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 user 2007-07-31 at 1:09:00 pm Views: 65
  • #18492

    Rise up against ink waste
    Printer manufacturers must be held accountable for ink replacement policies that are far from green
    When it comes to high tech, rarely is anything repaired. The same goes for consumer electronics, as both industries have been componentized at nearly every level of manufacturing. When something breaks, just throw it away and plug in another component.

    A nice little revenue model for manufacturers — one that, if you are not paying close enough attention, could end up costing you more.
    For example, when my first VHS player broke down after the warranty period, I was told by the manufacturer that it didn’t pay to fix the device. However, a friend who put a scope over the ICs found the dead chip, bought a new one in Radio Shack for under $1, and put my tape player back in business.My guess, and my electronically inclined friend’s guess, was that this chip didn’t just accidentally burn out. It was manufactured for a certain number of hours of use and then, Good bye, Charlie.We are now seeing variations on this theme, especially in the highly competitive printer industry. So componentized is this industry, that you can buy an ink-jet printer for less than $50 or a laser printer for less than $75. I paid $40 for my latest Samsung laser printer, an energy-efficient model to boot.As for ink-jet printers, my latest model signals when ink is low and stops working altogether when out of ink. How does it know when this happens? A small sensor in the cartridge monitors the ink levels.

    The question is, How much ink remains in the cartridge when the sensor decides it is empty?
    Is it like when a laser printer tells you your toner is low? Most people know that when you get this message all you have to do is remove the toner cartridge, shake it back and forth a bunch of times, and put it back in the laser printer. Lo and behold, you get another hundred pages out of that cartridge, if not more.But it is even worse with ink-jets. My printer manufacturer does not allow me to buy ink refills; so I can’t just open up the cartridge and refill the ink. Even if I could, the sensor indicator cannot be reset to indicate a full cartridge, so refilling it would be pointless. If I could refill the cartridge and reset the sensor, I could save a lot of money, meaning the manufacturer would make less, of course.Instead I have to spend about $28 for a new color cartridge. Worse, the latest ink-jet models don’t have separate cartridges. I suppose high tech, the industry that invented componentization, feels it has the right to take it back when it suits them. So now most of the latest ink cartridges are all-in-one affairs. If one color runs out, you need to replace the entire cartridge.This is most “ungreen.” Manufacturers might say they are producing energy-efficient products, but they are also quite wasteful. Instead of letting you use the same nonbiodegradable plastic container, most would rather have you toss it out and buy a new one. It is time for printer manufacturers to stop this practice — even if we have to force their hand a bit.

    In the spirit of revolution, I recommend that consumers of the world rise up and unite against printer cartridge waste.
    Here’s how. I am asking everyone with an ink-jet printer to conduct an experiment and report back to the manufacturers . When your printer signals that your cartridge is out of ink, open up the cartridge and see what’s left. Send the manufacturer the printer model number, as well as the ink status.