Printer Ink Rant

On the subject of inkjet printers (probably definitely your printer) this guy has made a decent video about problems with ink and reliability.

Canon Pixma TS5050

I usually America to have greater issues with planned obsolescence than Europe but the idea is sound. I’ve been banging this drum since probably before you heard of inkjet printers (remember the dot-matrix printer age? I was in tech before even they existed – let’s not go into IBM golfball printers.)

Now, before I go off on one – there ARE reasons printer manufacturers install chips on printer cartridges (they didn’t in the early days of ink-jets) – one good reason is to stop you using the last drop of ink – this can lead to dried up heads – which are a pain or impossible to replace (if they are part of the printer and not the cartridge). Another good reason is that very old ink can (but not necessarily will) change consistency and cause the same problem. A third reason is that some unscrupulous rip-off-ink manufacturers use an inadequate ink which again could lead back to head problems. There was a time when many of us bought BOTTLES of ink (you still can get them) and not all of the ink was/is good.

Canon Pixma MG2950

Taking all of that into account, the BAD uses of chip protection include ensuring you use original ink only because many inkjet printers are sold at a loss on the assumption that the manufacturer will make their money back on the obscenely expensive cartridges you’ll buy from them over the months and years.

As the guy in the video above points out, you could, in the USA be looking at near $60 for a set of cartridges that cost around $0.23 to produce – and he’s NOT talking complete nonsense – maybe a tad exxagerated? The printers often cost no more than a full set of original brand cartridges.

There was a time when rip-off cartridges might be miles out on actual colour accuracy but I’ve not noticed much of that in recent years.

So, with countless years and dozens of printers behind me I’m going to stick my neck out and say that SOME (for example) Canon printers are cheap and at the same time will work with cheap replacement cartridges – but not all. I’ve had MANY HP printers and ultimately the heads went on all of them… not worth replacing – ul;timately I gave up on HP.

We bought a Canon MG2950 here in Spain a couple of years ago – and took it to the UK in one of our 6 months here, 6 months there trips before Brexit. On another trip I brought a Canon TS5050 in Spain. Both were at the time maybe €60 Euros each – so both cheap. The JG2950 came from a local store in southern Spain – the TS5050 from

TS5050 cartridges from "The Supply Guy" via
TS5050 cartridges from “The Supply Guy” via

So here’s the story: The printers (both are also scanners) perform similarly (and well, I may add). Genuine MG2900 cartridges are expensive as are the genuine TS5050 cartridges – working cheap replacements for the MG2900 are hard to come by and are not cheap. The TS5050 cheap replacement cartridges are DIRT cheap and readily available from Amazon – see the photo – €15 Euros for a 10-pack of cartridges – is that amazing or what (and I’ve seen cheaper)?

I bought this set from back in 2019 and due to an order screw-up ended up with three packages – i.e. 6 full sets of CMY (Cyan, majenta and yellow and twin black inks. and I’m maybe half way through or less. With luck they’ll be good for another couple of years.

So while the MG2900 needs originals – costing an arm and a leg, I’m onto the second set of inexpensive cartridges for the TS5050 – and the cirsumstances could not be more testing, last year pre-Covid, we left Spain for months and the TS5050 sat and did nothing but the odd remote test in an unheated cave-home for all of that time.

Both printers continue to run perfectly and I expect at least the TS5050 to run for years without issue. We print pages maybe once every few weeks – mainly to keep the stone age public sector and banks happy. My access to the UK-based MJ2900 has been intermittent thanks to Covid and I’ve not tested it for months – Maureen is in the UK right now so I’ll find out if it’s OK tomorrow and if need be (unlikely) get the ink replaced.

I’ve set up the printers (and recently checked the TS5050) to be able to print remotely – I can print to the TS5050 from my phone anywhere in the world – not via the crappy Canon APP which assumes you’re on the same WiFi access point (and the point of that is??? It meant until recently I had to VPN into the PC which can be woken remotely) but now using the “Print from Anywhere” Android App. SO, I print a sample page at least once every couple of months if I am away from the printer and that stops the heads from drying out.

If remote printing interests you – there’s a setting to remember – ensure you disable the paper-size check on the printer – you don’t want to know that it is waiting for a manual OK button-press when you are thousands of miles away.

Oh, one more thing, when I am not at either home, I run dehumidifiers on timers to ensure the air is always between 40% and 60% humidity – that is also good for preventing general damp-related issues of the kind that lead to furniture damage and the rusting/blunting of all manner of tools etc., so I’d be doing that anyway. It’s a subject all on it’s own so I won’t go further into that here.

End of rant.


6 thoughts on “Printer Ink Rant

  1. Epson Eco Tank printers aren’t that expensive if you calculate the upcoming costs in. Here in Germany you can get the entry level Epson ET Models sometimes for less than 200€ and they come already with a lot of ink that will last you for a very long time.

    Very cheap printers are sold at a loss because the companies know that they’ll make much more money with the ink cartridges after they sold the printer. With printers it makes sense to calculate the total costs over the next 3-4 years.

    1. Hi

      Well, if you’re happy spending that on a printer, fine – I paid €55 for the Canon TS5050 printer/scanner and I’ve spend less than €30 in ink in the last 2 years (and I have lots left). If I were still running companies I might not not think twice about it of course.

  2. Epson ET printers – one bottle of ink per year and costs little.

    Canon can eat the dust, never buying them again.

    1. Except for one fatal problem – the cost of the printer (I checked – they have to be kidding? Cheapest I saw was 4+ times the cost of the Canon I referred to – most expensive was something like 12 times more expensive – I’d want it to do 3D printing and laser engraving on top of inkjet for that price….

  3. I gave up on my Canon pixma (3950?) because it is no longer supported on macOS big sur. It did allow 3rd parky ink. I replaced it with an Epson et-2750 which uses ink tanks…. it is brilliant

  4. Pete, couldn’t agree more. Which magazine looked at third party ink for printers in July issue and showed that some major printer manufacturer’s ink is up to £2 per ml, nearly 2x Chanel No 5 and 32yr malt whisky. I have in the past bought a new printer because it was almost as cheap as buying replacement ink cartridges.

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