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Q: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W ( No Answer,   5 Comments )
Subject: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W
Category: Computers
Asked by: moneymgr-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 16 Dec 2005 10:20 PST
Expires: 15 Jan 2006 10:20 PST
Question ID: 606545
A fellow employee and "paperclip counter" at my company makes a big
deal of how many color printouts employees make on our laser printer
(model hp 4600 hdn).  For years he has repeatedly urged everyone to
use the black and white laser printer (hp 4200) and says that we make
too many color copies.  

My question is two-parts.
Is color toner really more expensive than black toner? And if so
question #2 is Why? Hasn't the initial higher margin of color toner
equalized as color laser copiers have become commonplace?

Basically I am just looking to be more informed about the cost of
color versus black and white laser prints.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W
From: vballguy-ga on 16 Dec 2005 11:36 PST
There is no exact science, it depends on what is being printed.  I.e.
a solid page of colors would be more expesive than a page of text with
a small image.

Some estimates i have found
"As for the three printers you asked about, the OKI 7300 and Xerox
6200dp are both just under 10 cents per color page @ 20% coverage
(using high-capacity toners). The HP 4600 is more complicated due to
the imaging drum and toner being in the same cartridge. This leads to
the waste of unused toner or OPC life if one or the other runs out
first. In some real life applications the 4600 is as much as 400%
higher per page than most color laser printers. If you could somehow
use all of the supplies evenly and completely, the cost per page @ 20%
coverage would be about 11 cents."

so depeding on when the drum, and toner wear out, it could be anywhere
from 11 cents up to maybe 36 cents a page.... (400% of 9 cents a

HP claims that the cost per page for the 4200 is 1.27 cents.. 
(note two sources and two methods so we are comparing apples to oranges)

Actually I found HPs cost for color at:

Black - US$ .016 (1.6 cents) (five percent coverage) 
Color - US$ .089 (8.9 cents) (20 percent coverage-five percent per cartridge) 

The reason's behind the cost (among others):
1) A black cartridge is dead when all the ink is gone
   A color cartridge is dead when one of the inks is gone

2) To make colors, multiple inks are used vs one ink for black.

3) Depending on the printer, it can be mechanically more difficult to
place three different colors vs one color- possibly three passes vs 1.

there are numerous other reasons and variables, it is not an exact science...
Subject: Re: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W
From: bschonec-ga on 18 Dec 2005 09:59 PST
As far as my hardware is concerned, Xerox charges me 9.3 cents per
color copy on a Xerox Docucolor 1632 and less than 2 cents per BW.  I
get killed on color charges each month because people love to print
their lottery numbers in color every day.
Subject: Re: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W
From: superiormp-ga on 19 Dec 2005 10:42 PST
The reason color toner is more expensive has to do with the technology
used to produce color toner.  In the past, black toner is manufactured
using a 'pulverization' of the toner to break it up into small enough
particles, but most color toner is now made using a more complex
process that results in spherical particles of toner.

Also, a great deal of savings can be realized by buying remanufactured
toner cartridges whereby a remanufactured color cartridge can cost
much less than a new, name brand OEM black toner.  It depends where
you shop.

For the best deals I've found on toner cartridges (both black and
color) check out
Subject: Re: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W
From: helplady-ga on 19 Dec 2005 13:00 PST
Just two quick clarifications - vballguy-ga noted:

"The reason's behind the cost (among others):
"1) A black cartridge is dead when all the ink is gone
   A color cartridge is dead when one of the inks is gone"

However, moneymgr-ga was asking about the HP 4600 HDN, which is a
networked color *laser* printer.

So, it actually uses toner, not ink cartridges. 

And, for that model of printer, there are separate color cartridges
for each of the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow toners. (In my experience,
this is typical of color laser printers.)

So, to directly answer:
Pt 1: Yes, color toner really is more expensive than black toner.
Pt 2: The higher cost to purchasers/users is partly because of the
technical reasons superiormp-ga has explained, and also because of
that cardinal rule of sales: "charge what the public will bear" -
meaning that they charge more because they can.

I would add to superiormp-ga's note about remanufactured cartridges,
that using those cartridges may have an impact on a printer's warranty
(check the fine print) and may not provide the exact same color
balance as a new manufacturer's cartridge. (Your results may vary.)
Subject: Re: Cost of Color Laser Prints versus B&W
From: moneymgr-ga on 20 Dec 2005 13:19 PST
Thanks everyone for these great answers. I think the bottom line is
that my "paper clipp counter" frined has a valid point and that
regardless of how you look at it color toner and color prints are more

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