Are all ink jet printers destined for the garbage?

I just bought my 4th printer in 10 years. I have had cheap printers, expensive printers, and now a mid priced printer.
They all last about 2 years or so, then go completely to shit. Are these things supposed to be “disposable”? It’s not just my printers for home either, at work all the ink jets go kaploey after a while too (the laser printers seem to do ok). And yes, I did the maintainance and cleaning on them.
What is a good life span to expect from a printer? Consider moderate to heavy use.

Yeah, the inkjet theory was like laser printers, the hardest working parts were replaceable, (toner cart w/imaging drum, inkjet heads). So you replaced the worn components with new ones as part of the consumables. But inkjets require precision mechanics, and its damn hard to keep an inkjet in good alignment and good performance when it’s banging out hundreds of pages.
I used to work with Iris inkjets, I did lots of service that was normally done by their techs, I was pretty good at it, and it was absolutely a full time job keeping the printer up and running. Every component was replaceable, it was a constant battle to keep all the pieces working at the same time and keep optimum image quality. We kept that printer running 24 hours a day and it usually took me a couple full days a week maintaining it. So console yourself that you’re just replacing inexpensive inkjets and don’t have to deal with the really heavy duty inkjets like the Iris, they are a big pain in the butt.

My printers average about ten years old. Except the inkjets, which are all being replaced by decade-old 24-pin dot matrixes. The price of their consumables has gotten completely insane. Especially those of Epsons, which don’t even have the excuse of replacing the printhead. I have difficulty believing some dye–especially lampblack–dissolved in water with some binder should cost more per ounce than silver. Resolution is as good or better than a cheap inkjet, too.

My Panasonic dot matrix, which is unlike the old Epsons in that I actually had to PAY for it ($15US at a resale shop), is nearly as quiet as an inkjet, though not as fast. However, if it has sat for a few days without being used I don’t have to print twice with a head cleaning in between. This saves time. It has nice built-in fonts that print quickly and a quiet mode that is slower but even quieter.

My suggestion is to keep an eye on the curbs on Garbage Eve. If it’s been rained on, leave it to dry for a few days and it’ll be as good as new.

I have two inkjet printers. One gave up (after about two years) by refusing to print black (these printers have a cartridge for each color). I tried buying new cartridges and doing a through cleaning to no avail. I bought a second one of the same brand and it gave up after just under a year. Fortunately, I bought an extended warranty with this one and was able to get it fixed. The other one is now a door stop (I would throw it away but that seems a waste).

I much prefer the inkjets to any other just because it does print in color (color lasers are too expensive, still, and who knows whether they are better or not).

They do seem to be disposable.

Oh, I forgot to mention… I have an Epson 1520, a big 14in wide printer, it works great but I have had it in for service once and it required a total refurb of the printheads. Fortunately it had a 2 year warranty and it clogged up in the last month so maybe it will be good for another 2 years. But if it needs another repair, that will pretty much be the end. I paid $750 for this printer but newer similar models are around $250 to $300 and surely a repair to the old model would be aobut $150. It doesn’t make much sense to repair stuff at these prices.

I don’t know…my inkjet, we’ve had about, oh, three years? And the ink cartridges are the only things that need replaced.

Plus, I think the Inkjet prints better pictures.

Gee, I have an inkjet that’s over 10 years old. A monochrome HP “deskjet plus”. Granted, I don’t print much on my home machine, and am not that worried about per-page cost. One of these days, it will die, I suppose, and I’ll have to do some research on printers.

Or maybe I’ll decide I want to print pictures and have to get a color printer.

I have an original Epson Stylus Color (no number, that’s how old it is) that I got in 1994. My roommate had an identical printer last year, same age. They’re both going strong, after years and years of regular use. I may well be the exception, however.

Inkjet printers do seem to be rather short lived. As was previously mentioned, though, there is good reason for this. Printing photos without streaks or skips requires very high precision. That the manufacturers manage this for the price of a typical inkjet printer is a tribute to their manufacturing and engineering skills. Given the price limits that they have to meet, though, they have to save money where they can. One of the places they save money is in the quality of the materials used. It would be possible to build an inkjet that wouldn’t croak every couple of years. You just couldn’t sell them because they would be too expensive.
Look at the market segment that you are trying to reach: home users and small businesses. A home user prints out a few letters and a picture every now and again. Small businesses rather more letters, but probably fewer photos. Neither can justify shelling out a few thousand dollars for a laser printer that can match the print quality of a good inkjet.
I have a Lexmark Z52 inkjet at home. It prints at 2400x1200dpi and makes incredible photos on glossy paper. It also prints a good five or six pages per minute of plain text. It cost me around $175. At work, we have Tektronix Phaser 740. It cost around $3500. It prints at 1200x1200dpi, but photos are inferior to my inkjet because laser printers have trouble with large areas with one color (they turn out patchy and the color is uneven) and because the transport mechanism tends to press tracks into the fused toner on the paper. It prints plain text so fast I can’t estimate the pages per minute. It saves us loads of time over the Epson 980 we used to have (which also did great photos.) Individual pages printed at work are dirt cheap. Individual pages printed on my inkjet can be as expensive as a couple of bucks a page for a large photo. I could not have purchased a color laser printer for home use. I could purchase the Lexmark. The Lexmark gets me on the recurring costs (which I can spread over the lifetime of the printer) instead of taking one big bite up front like the laser would.

It is a shame that the inkjet printers croak so quickly, but I am glad that I can afford to have good printouts. Also, my old Epson here at home only printed at 720x360 dpi. It was only about three years old when it quit and I picked up the Lexmark, but look at the difference in print quality that came about in those few years. I wouldn’t have owned a printer if they were all as expensive as laser printers, and I had one then I wouldn’t have been very inclined to replace it despite the print quality improvements.

One other reason that inkjet printers can be bought so cheaply is that the manufacturers recoup part of the costs of making the printers by selling ink cartridges at high prices. The manufacturers don’t make much on each printer, but the profit margin on the cartridges is high enough to keep the companies going. Remember that the next time you are tempted to complain about the high cost of running an inkjet printer.

I don’t particularly like things being the way I have described them. I find it wasteful to design throw-away machines. It is, however, an unfortunate fact that a better machine would not be marketable. As much as I might prefer to, I could not and would not purchase a really well made printer. It would simply be too expensive for the use I would get out of it.

My old HP DeskJet 500 is more than a decade old and still working fine. I just passed it on to my brother. On the other hand at work we used to have a DeskJet 1200C that cost over a grand and was trash within a few months. It was serviced several times under warranty but always crapped out after a few months (and we couldn’t get authorization to replace it for 4 years). It was OK for text but colors were printed in the wrong shades and always left large streaks in the printout. I hope my new HP DeskJet 970 will last, but it seams to be luck of the draw. Either it’s going to last 8+ years or under 2.

my experience for what it’s worth:

I have an Okidata OL400 laser printer that’s more than 10 years old. Even so, a friend had told me that it should have been able to print thousands of pages without problems.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience, because all I’d printed was hundreds of pages, when the pages started getting very dirty (looking sort of like optical-scan bars at the top of printed pages, and becoming ever dirtier the longer the printer stays on).

At the time this started happening I phoned the guys at Okidata, and they said the symptoms point to needing a new drum. However, that costs over $200. For that money I can get a new inkjet.

Quoting Mort Furd:

**Inkjet printers do seem to be rather short lived. As was previously mentioned, though, there is good reason for this. Printing photos without streaks or skips requires very high precision. **

I wouldn’t even mind if the market would offer a not-so-accurate printer, even with not-such-high precision printing, as long as it would be longer-lived and not require many replacement parts.

That, in effect, might offer a high-speed, cheap, alternative to a dot matrix, wouldn’t it?

Modern inkjet printers are generally crap. They are built as cheaply as possible since price is the driving factor above all else in the computer industry. Older inkjets, like the HP 500/600 series and earlier, are a bit sturdier and tend to last longer. My sister is still printing away on an old HP LJ500C with no porblems. My HP LJ692 is also going strong, although I don’t use it much. OTOH, my Okidata 590 is over 10 years old and shows no sign of letting up at all. I had to replace the printhead right after I bought it (used, very used), probably because the previous user didn’t keep the gap set properly. Nothing beats a good old 24-pin dot matrix printer for economy or longevity (assuming it can do single-sheet feed; tractor paper isn’t easy to find anymore). If you look around, ribbons are pretty easy to find. Most business supply stores (Staples, Office Depot, etc) still carry them. Many businesses still use them because there is no way to do multi-part forms on laser or inkjet printers.

I agree that anything HP produced in the way of inkjets past the 500 and some 600s was total garbage. One year max life, and could go through maybe three reams of paper before the patented Racheting Sound of Death set in.

I threw out two in one day. Then desperately needed another one, fast, and I was broke. I found a Canon BJC1000 for $60, with a $20 rebate. Total price, $40.

That thing has cranked through over a dozen reams of paper easily in the past two years. Canon has my loyalty, at least until they start manufacturing junk like HP. But I remember buying BJ200e’s for an old job I had maybe six years ago, and showing up three years later: one printer had broken. And this was at a publishing house, where they’d push 500 page books through them in draft form at a time.

So, if you’re in the market for a new one… Canons rock. HPs are a waste of money, no matter what CNet says. Epsons have great quality, but like Jaguars, seem to spend a good deal of time in the shop.

And any laserjet without a flatbed paper feeder will develop problems within an astonishingly short period of time.

All of this, of course, is drawn from my experience. YMMV.