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 user 2009-11-06 at 11:46:20 am Views: 41
  • #22890


    Hewlett Packard the world’s
    largest maker of printer and printer inks is charging Australian
    consumers more than double, what US consumers pay for a Hewlett Packard
    (HP) 02 Ink Cartridge Value 6 Pack.Back in January 2008 when the
    Australian dollar was hovering around the $0.85 cents to the US dollar,
    Officeworks was selling a Hewlett Packard (HP) 02 Ink Cartridge Value 6
    Pack for $49.95.That same HP Value Pack is now $89.96 despite the dollar
    rising to $0.93 last week.

    In the USA Best Buy is selling the
    same Hewlett Packard 02 Ink Cartridge Value 6 Pack for US$39.99 or
    A$43.00.Last week Hewlett Packard Australia launched a major radio and
    print advertising campaign in Australia, warning consumers of the perils
    of buying non HP ink. They have also invested millions into
    establishing their own ink police force in Asia in an effort to catch
    organisations that are manufacturing counterfeit HP ink which is selling
    in some Australian stores for half the price of the genuine HP inks
    sold at Officeworks.

    HP are claiming that to avoid excess costs,
    spillage and waste consumers should purchase, high quality, reliable HP
    Original Ink & Toner Cartridges that work every time to provide the
    “best quality and value”.What they don’t tell consumers is that they can
    buy the same ink from US web sites for half the price.Recently Best Buy
    in the US said that they will now start shipping to International
    consumers via a US address. This allows freight Companies and third
    party organisations to take delivery of the Best Buy products and then
    on ship it to Australia.Research done by SmartHouse reveals that the
    cost of freight to Australia adds approximately $10 to the US cost of
    the advertised HP Ink which combined with a purchase price of $43 makes
    the US purchase $36 cheaper than the advertised price for HP Inks in
    Officeworks.At the time of writing this story Hewlett Packard had not
    responded to our request for an explanation of their Australian pricing.

    UK:Why is printing so bloody expensive?
    According to HP Media Test Expert, Thom Brown, the cost of
    printing has come down 30% in the last three years. The average user
    will get through 3.8 ink cartridges each year which works out as a cost
    of $6 per month. It’s a good way of rationalising it but 30% or no 30%
    it still feels like bill shock every time we have to we have to play the
    replacement game.  The real trouble is that few of us ever thinks of
    the purchase of a printer as a subscription or a model with significant
    running costs. So, for those who can’t take the pain at the checkout,
    Pocket-lint went over to HP’s ink factory in Dublin to find out exactly
    where all that money goes.

    The process of printing is like
    dropping grapes into a bucket from the top of a 30 story building at
    speeds of 50km/h and at intervals of 30,000 times a second. We’re asking
    those cartridges to make single dots on a page from 32 separate
    super-heated vapour explosions but yet be cool enough by the time they
    arrive to be dried and in good condition. And all of that through a
    nozzle just one third the breadth of a human hair. If the droplets are
    not the exact right shape, the lines on the documents on the photographs
    will become blurred and raggedy, the contrast poor and the images far
    from sharp. And if the results aren’t good, then the consumer will blame
    the printer manufacturer, so it’s small wonder that they put so much
    into the production of the cartridges.

    There’s a holy trinity of
    printing between the machine, the paper and the ink cartridge but out of
    them all it’s arguably the cartridge that’s the hardest working of them
    all. The ink comes into contact with both the machine side of things as
    well as the paper too. The paper itself is specialised to some degree
    with a choice between porous and swellable technologies – you can ask us
    about that one another time – but the cartridge has become such a piece
    of work that more often than not these days, it’s even the place where
    you’ll find the actually printing head which was previously always found
    in the machine.

    The engineering and assembly that goes into each
    cartridge is certainly more than you’d expect especially when standing
    there with your bill shock face. As well as the tiny nozzle, each one
    contains a sponge and a filter as well as the ink. The sponge is there
    to ensure that every last drop of ink is soaked up from the cartridge
    container but is not so greedy that it starves the nozzle. The filter is
    7 microns in size and is designed to block whatever impurities that may
    have got in there that could clog up the nozzle and ruin the drop flow.

    cartridges are filled in a vacuum to make sure they’re up to the brim
    and, once done, the lids are placed on top and ultra-sonically vibrated
    against the main body until the two heat up and fuse together. The heads
    themselves are made from an incredibly thin film and held down by the
    inert and rather pricey metal Palladium to make sure that they’re
    perfectly in place. Each cartridge also has its own unique ID chip to
    make sure it’s gone through all the quality control and, if there is a
    problem, it can be traced back to a particular batch.

    But of
    course, it’s not just the plastics where all the money goes. A huge
    amount of the expense is concerned with the ink itself. Each new ink
    takes around 3-5 years to develop. The fluid dynamics are selecting for
    viscosity, anti-smudge factors, quick drying and colour permanence to
    last years of exposure to light. The droplets are examined under
    electron microscopy for size, shape and speed to make sure they’ll give
    that perfect image reproduction when required.

    It’s small wonder
    that manufacturers like HP recommend using their ink cartridges and no
    one else’s when it’s time to change them over. Sure, a significant part
    of their business is the ink cartridge money spinner but it’s easy to
    see how a refill of their specially engineered hardware could produce
    some very patchy results. The new ink is not going to have the same
    viscosity which will give a dramatically different performance but, more
    than anything else, the cartridges simply aren’t designed to last for a
    second life cycle. Many of the parts such as the delicate filters and
    nozzles might well have worn out. HP describes refills like second hand
    cars. There’s just no guarantee that they’ll run properly.

    you can buy into a printer type and system where new cartridges cost
    less. You can make the choice whether you’d rather spend more on the
    outlay or pay higher running costs but, for now at least, shelling out
    for new cartridges is a part of life. From an eco point of view,
    companies like HP are crying out for us to send back the empties so that
    they can recycle them. 70% of the new ones are made from the plastic of
    the old. But, until they run a decent incentive schemes to help with
    further ink purchases, it seems unlikely that many people will
    bother.So, until then, you’ll just have to remember these facts the next
    time your printer runs dry and it’s time to stump up the cash again.
    You won’t like it and it’s still not cheap but at least you’ll have a
    better idea of where the money is going.