Printer Talk (laser/inkjet) [Split thread]

This made me laugh.

PRINTER (for 30 minutes): veep veep veep veepveep vaveeeeep veeeeeeeeeeep veeeepveep veeeeeeeeeeeeep…

Then peeling the oily-moist black-MIDI rendering out of the printer tray and having to just gingerly hold it for a while cause you don’t want ink on your desk! :joy:


Believe me: That’s what happened. :joy:

My dad likes to print stuff out instead of seeing it on a phone screen, so I hear the printer dying in the next room over, and then he walks in holding a sopping wet sheet of paper with my game map printed on it.

This is what inspired the inclusion of a printer-friendly map.

Also, my dad searches this forum for my game’s title to snoop on comments people are writing about it. So if he’s reading this right now: Hi dad!

Sorry for derail, but this is one of my personal causes...

Peoples. Get a laser printer. Inkjet is a scam unless you’re occasionally wanting simple colored line art. If you’re mostly printing lots of text that’s still enormously expensive - and occasionally some printers if not set up right will also use the colored ink somehow to print black text. The ink smears if the condensation from your drinking glass drips on it, and if you print a dense page you get a soggy thing and paper wrinkled by the liquid and back and forth scraping. You can use photo paper for sturdier and better results that don’t smear, but in my experience most inkjets will still provide sub-par output with visible lines where the printhead rows mow across the page so you’re paying a lot for mediocre output. Even if you’re choosing to print the photo in monochrome to save color ink, those cartridges run out fast.

Laser printers may seem more expensive initially. Inkjets are like razors - cheap outlay, but they get you on the consumable refills. My current laser printer was had on clearance for $99, is also a photocopier (you can lift the lid and it scans and copies), and has WiFi so I can send documents to it from anywhere with no expensive cable (you can basically stash the printer in another room to keep it out of the way if it’s wireless) and in the 5-6 years I’ve had it I have never replaced the toner cartridge - I’m still using the “low capacity demo” they included with the machine.

Laser prints fast. I’m not printing screenplays anymore but the output is pages per minute instead of minutes per page, and never have I gone “Man, I want to print something in color” where it wasn’t just better to send it to Walgreens to be printed by their professional industrial photo printer.

If you must have color on demand for some applications it’s worth it to have the laser printer alongside the inkjet to offload most of your draft or daily printing jobs to for speed and efficiency and save the precious-$13-$75 per ounce cost of printer ink.

If you’re printing photos and art on a regular basis and you would rather do it yourself, you probably want to invest in an actual photo printer that uses dyes or that thermal wax stuff instead low-quality ink that’s ruined if you spill water on the printout. I believe there are color laser printers but I haven’t priced them and only see them used by large offices that do need to print color on demand.

Ages ago, I was tasked to replace my aunt’s ink cartridges in her slightly obscure printer. The color cart was $45, and the black ink was $25, so $70. A brand new printer that came with color and black and white cartridges was $39. I was like “Bev, you’d be better off buying a new printer when the ink runs out…” (Although the new printer I did get her was a little less obscure so her inks were then $12 and $27 and definitely a smart replacement.)

More printer talk

Well, there are some tank-based inkjet systems that have insanely cheap first-party inks (like 50€ for a complete set, and that would supposedly last about 5000 pages!) that works out way cheaper per page than most laser printers with first-party toners. Those printers also tend to cost upwards of 200€, though, and the points about soggy paper and slow prints still stand.

Usually, “black” ink isn’t really black, more like a dark grey. You don’t get true black until you mix in some of each color. (Anyone who has worked on designing stuff to be professionally printed probably knows that 100% K does not make black.)

There sure are – I have one on my desk that cost me about 360€ (as of a few weeks ago) – you can get even cheaper if you’re content with somewhat slower print speeds. But just like with cheaper inkjets, you’ll basically go bankrupt buying first-party toners. (A full set of cartridges would cost me about as much as the printer itself, and that’s not even the high-capacity ones.) Make sure you’re buying a model that has third-party reproduction toners available and won’t complain if you use them. (I’ve had decent experiences with Kyocera models, both in that regard and in terms of general print quality and available settings.)


That’s the other thing I told people: “When you buy a printer, verify the standard price and availability of consumables!” I know people who got a great deal on an inkjet thinking they’re saving money and the reason they got a great deal is the printer is not a common model in use and you can only get ink for it drop-shipped from another country and if you’re lucky in this one Radio Shack location 40 miles away…

I’ve even heard tales that some companies like HP had electronics in their cartridges that could communicate with the printer to tell if you refilled them or if they were not “authorized” and would refuse to print despite the unit being exactly the same form factor - which I think is what you mean by “complain if you use them”.


We have an HP and it certainly knows because it says it’s not a dealer-authorized ones, but it doesn’t stop you from using them. But…I had multiple cases of really bad luck with third-party toner cartridges (like getting streaky and failing less than a third of the way into its capacity, or spilling yellow toner all over the inside of the printer; that was a nightmare) so I’ve gone back to the “genuine HP” ones…


I suppose there are instances where their “use only genuine authorized products” is a valid warning, but it is much better that it is just a warning notification instead of locking up your hardware to force you to only use more expensive name brand product.

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Back when I was using a printer (~1997-2011) laser toners had another advantage if one used a printer only occasionally, they had much longer shelf life. If unused for extended period of time, ink in the cartridges tended to dry up and clogged the nozzles. Toners didn’t have that problem. Of course since then ink technologies might have caught up with them, I wouldn’t know.


I do remember at work one of the troubleshooting steps was “shaking” the toner cartridge/drum. Sometimes if printouts were pale on one side but dark on the other, it was because as the toner powder decreased it would sort of pile to one side as the drum turned if the printer wasn’t mostly level. We’d give the drum a couple of end-over-end turns to redistribute it…and it usually meant it’d have to be replaced soon. But this was in an office that was printing thousands of sheets per day.