Cyan > (Magenta + Yellow)

I have noticed that my Lexmark printer consistently uses 2 1/2 times the Cyan ink cartridges as the other colors (magenta and yellow), which ruins my plans to buy the bulk pack of all three. The consumption is not quite as much as the black cartridge, which I expect, and can forgive as it’s one quarter the price.

When I asked, Lexmark support offered:

Most cartridge nozzles are drilled with a stamp technology that punches small holes into the printhead. While cheap and fast for the manufacturer, this process creates uneven, misshapen holes that can adversely effect ink flow and print quality.

Lexmark cartridge nozzles are drilled using a special process called EX2, or laser-excimer drilling. The holes are individually drilled with laser precision in order to ensure the most accurate ink distribution to produce the sharpest, high-quality images from your printer. This process takes a little more time and money, which impacts the final cost of the cartridge.

Um, okay. But then they added the Scooby-Doo-equivalent to “rirontrow.” I am not printing photos of blueberries on Blue’s Clues across a blue-sky backdrop – just normal stuff like letters, homeworks, an occasional geocache page.

Theories? (Absurd or serious)

Cyan nom nom nom

4 thoughts on “Cyan > (Magenta + Yellow)”

  1. This is fact, not theory. Lexmark printers suck. I have one. The main print mechanism had to be replaced (under warranty) after printing 6 pages on the first day. The only predictability on ink usage is that it goes fast.

  2. My HP deskjet always reports the same flat level for all 3 colors, which seems just as unlikely as your hyper-cyan consumption, but might be a deliberate design choice since you’re forced to change the whole color cartridge at once anyway. (Probably the reported level is the minimum of all 3, or heck, maybe they’re only measuring one of the three anyway.)

    I don’t have a good theory for you, but this site sells DIY ink refill kits:

    … but doesn’t sell cyan separately.

  3. Many years ago we had a HP Paintjet XL300 that the GIS students used to print out their finished maps. It went through yellow ink at about 6 times the rate of the other three colours. The ink cartridges were tiny and expensive, and it was hard to keep enough yellow cartridges on hand when assignments were due.

    We replaced it with a HP 2500CM, which was so much cheaper to run that it paid for itself within a year. It also went through yellow at a greater rate than the other colours, although it was only 2.5 times.

    And then… the Sun workstations were replaced by Windows workstations, and the default colour maps in ArcGIS on Windows were quite different from those on Solaris. The ink usage rates changed immediately; yellow dropped quite remarkably, and magenta use went through the roof.

    So maybe your colour maps are off? What’s doing the radiometric colour balance calculations for you? The default printer driver? Is it set to some bizarre default that’s not applicable for general use?

  4. John – What brand of printers do you favor? I used to be die-hard HP, but my last two have been disappointing. The one virtue of the Lexmark is the cheap black ink. (Cyan.. not so.)

    Kiri – I suppose I should be happy I can just swap out the single color. The Epson I had was really bad about that and its cartridges would cease working when down to 25% left. (This was the subject of a class-action lawsuit which paid out … enough for a single cartridge.) There was a little dongle on eBay that would reset the cartridge’s electronics, allowing one to squeeze out the remaining 25% – it paid for itself on the first set.

    Steve – you may be onto something. I noticed that Outlook uses a blue font – maybe there are other apps applying enough blue to suck up a cartridge but not enough to notice. Or maybe that’s just the way it works. I had been giving serious consideration to just getting a black and white laser printer.

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