SFGate: “It’s one of the great ironies of the digital age. Ink, a substance that has been around some 5,000 years, has become an enormous cash cow for computer companies. They sell the printers dirt cheap and, just like razor manufacturers, rake in the big bucks on the disposable component. ”
The article gives some scale to the numbers:
That same color inkjet printer that sets you back a mere $50 at Costco or comes free with a PC at CompUSA can guzzle $35 every time you replace the tri- color ink cartridge and an additional $30 for the black cartridge. With a scant 17 milliliters of ink in some cartridges, you end up paying about $2 for a few dribbles. Do the math the other way, and you’re paying about $8,000 per gallon.
“If you were to fill up the tank of your car with Hewlett-Packard or Lexmark ink, it would cost $100,000,” said Gerald Chamales, chairman of Rhinotek Computer Products, a Carson (Los Angeles County) manufacturer of ink and toner cartridges that are compatible with name-brand printers. “If you filled an Olympic-size swimming pool with ink from HP or Lexmark inkjet cartridges, it would cost $5.9 billion with a B.”