It's a nuisance having to change cartridges frequently. Epson is tackling this with the new WorkForce Pro RIPS range.
Modern business inkjet printers can be cheap to run, contrary to received wisdom based on low-end consumer models. But some business models can get through a 'high capacity' ink cartridge for every ream of paper printed.
It's a nuisance having to change cartridges frequently, and as a general rule the smaller the amount of liquid you buy at a time, the more it costs per litre - you might be able to get two litres of milk for $2 from the big supermarket chains, but you normally pay more than $1 for one litre.
To get round that, some heavy users install continuous ink systems that provide relatively massive refillable reservoirs. One downside is that they don't use genuine ink - the printer manufacturers say that's a problem (clogging, a lack of colourfastness, poor colour reproduction, and poor compatibility with the manufacturer's specialist papers are among the issues cited), but at least some third-party ink vendors dismiss those concerns and say their product is as good and a lot cheaper.
Epson has found a way of combining genuine ink with infrequent cartridge changes. It's latest WorkForce Pro models feature the company's new RIPS (Replaceable Ink Pack System), which can print up to 75,000 pages without replacement.
RIPS uses Epson's DURABrite four-colour water and smudge resistant inks.
The first three WorkForce Pro RIPS models are the WF-R5190 printer and the WF-R8590TC and WF-R5690 multifunctions.
They all feature USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi interfaces, provide PCL and PostScript compatibility, and support AirPrint (for printing from iPhones and iPads) and Google Cloud Print (for printing from Android devices, Chromebooks, Google Apps, etc).
The A4 WF-R5190 is rated at 20 ppm single sided, or 11 ppm two sided. A maximum of 2,500 pages per month is recommended, and the ink packs are good for around 50,000 pages under test conditions. In practice, you'll likely see a lower figure as some ink is wasted when an inkjet printer is not used continuously.
The A3+ WF-R5690 adds a 1200 dpi scanner with automatic document feed for scanning, copying and faxing capabilities.
The top of the range is the free-standing WF-R8590TC that prints up to 75,000 pages from its multiple paper trays without an ink change. A maximum of 5,000 pages per month is recommended.
The company claims consumable costs for these models are up to 80 percent lower than equivalent laser printers. Additionally, power consumption is up to 70 percent lower.
If WorkForce Pro RIPS printers are not available at your usual retailer, you'll need to seek out an Epson commercial dealer or managed print services partner. If you do, please leave a comment with the price you're quoted - Epson didn't tell us the list price of the devices or ink packs, and the information is also omitted from the company's web site.