Single-Ink or Multi-Ink Cartridges? Inkjet Printers Explained
October 14, 2021
Whether you print full-color sales proposals or color-coded meeting agendas, quality matters. You might be wondering what printer is best suited to fit your needs. Should you buy a color inkjet printer that uses several single-color ink cartridges or one that works with a multi-color ink cartridge?
Your choice of printer can be based on your printing habits. Here’s what you need to know about inkjet printers and ink cartridges that can help you decide.
How Inkjet Printers Work
Inkjet printers use ink cartridges that contain color ink — typically cyan (blue), magenta (a red hue), yellow, and black. These inks can be combined in different proportions to create a wide range of colors. Tiny nozzles, called jets, spray ink droplets from the cartridges to create text and images on mediums, such as paper, labels, transparencies, and more. (Specialty printers are best if you’re printing on photo paper.)
Different printer models work with different types of cartridges. Some printers use separate cartridges for each ink color; other models use one cartridge containing cyan, magenta, and yellow with another cartridge containing just black ink; and a few use one cartridge that holds all four. Some models may even use additional colors, such as light cyan and light magenta — these differentiations are especially important if you’re printing photos.
Now, let’s look more closely at the different cartridge types.
Single-Ink Printer Cartridges Explained
Ink cartridges that contain just one color are known as single-ink cartridges or single-color cartridges. If your printer uses this type of cartridge, you’ll typically need four separate cartridges, one each for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (or six cartridges if light cyan and light magenta are also used).
Multi-Ink Printer Cartridges Explained
Multi-ink cartridges, also known as multi-color or tri-color cartridges, have separate reservoirs for each color, all housed within a single unit. Multi-ink cartridges usually contain cyan, magenta, and yellow inks. If your printer works with multi-ink cartridges, you’ll typically need to purchase two cartridges, one for the three colors and a separate cartridge for black, or one cartridge containing all four inks.
Which Type of Ink Cartridge Is More Economical?
Here’s where your printing habits come into play:
If you tend to use a lot of one color — such as for a blue logo — a printer that uses single-ink cartridges can be more economical. That’s because if one color runs out, you can just replace that one instead of having to replace them all and wasting perfectly good ink.
If you print a lot of text documents in black and use the other colors in equal amounts, a printer that uses separate black and multi-color cartridges may offer greater savings. You can replace the black one as often as necessary while keeping your color one going strong.
To figure out the cost of your ink, take the cartridge’s “page yield” and divide it by the cost of the ink cartridge. So, if your cartridge costs $40 and your page yield is 400 pages, each page costs roughly $0.10.
Whichever cartridge you use, you should try to recycle them. Office Depot makes it easy with its Ink & Toner Recycling program. Customers in the Rewards Program, who make a qualifying $10 purchase the same month, can bring in up to 10 cartridges per month to an Office Depot store and get $2 back in rewards for each cartridge. To go even greener (a combo of cyan and yellow!), you can choose Office Depot® Brand remanufactured ink cartridges that both help prevent waste in landfills and save money.
And to avoid ever running out of ink, you can join Office Depot’s subscription service that delivers it right to your door.
Ultimately, your printer will determine whether you use single-ink or multi-ink cartridges, so it’s good to consider your printing habits before choosing a new or replacement model. Then, try to get the right kind of replacement cartridge with Office Depot’s Ink & Toner Finder; just enter your printer model or brand to search for the right cartridge, and you’re on your way to high-quality, vividly colored documents.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared in LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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