Interesting question, isn’t it? We know the most expensive car in the world, or most expensive house in the world, or even the richest man. What do you think the most expensive liquid is on earth? What was your first guess? Oil? Water? Human Blood? The answer might shock you. The answer is fairly surprising. Take a look:
HP black ink! Shocking isn’t it? Crude oil (the liquid we go to war for) costs less than bottled water, red bull and vodka. What’s even more surprising is that human blood is less expensive when compared to HP black ink! You might be thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, alcohol is way more expensive!” Well it is to you, but not to bartenders and the manufactures of alcohol. What you think is so expensive is the brand you pay for.
What makes ink so expensive no matter how you slice it up? Well according to an HP employee, “There’s a lot of technology in ink,” says Thom Brown, a supplies technology specialist at HP. “It’s more than colored water; there are more than a dozen different ingredients.”
Aside from leaving a mark on paper, the ink has to remain unchanged in the cartridge for two years or more, and endure the heat and pressure of being shot through a microscopic hole in the print head after being heated suddenly to 300 degrees Celsius, he explains. The ink must then travel the equivalent of a quarter falling 30 stories, hit the paper and not bounce, dry instantly and not fade for decades.
“It takes three to five years to develop one new ink formulation and a thousand prototype printers, since there are so many iterations in the process,” Brown adds.
Most would take that statement as truth and just accept it, but some are not that willing to budge. Veneeta Eason, Kodak’s director of future product marketing, thinks that it’s just a way to justify their large profit margins. Eason believes that it is possible to market to a large group of employers and personal users that are tired of spending so much on ink. Kodak then released printers that cost more with cartridges that cost less, largely thanks to the print head being in the printer rather than on the cartridge. “The model works,” Eason says, and Kodak has seen its inkjet revenue grow 39% year over year, according to its latest quarterly figures.
There has even been an opening in a market for refilling cartridges due to the high cost of ink. Companies have been known to capitalize on this and end up damaging printers with these cartridges that have been refilled over and over again. A cartridge can be easily refilled 2-3 times but once you start hitting the 5th time, it can get dangerous to keep using cartridges at that point.
There isn’t much more that can be said about why ink is so expensive. Specifically from HP, they claim that there is quite a bit of technology that goes into creating the ink, but who’s to say that isn’t just justifying a large profit margin?
When starting a business based on something that is vital to everyday functionality, you can either charge a ton of money for your product, or make a product that doesn’t last, so the consumer keeps coming back.
…or in this case, do both.