Inside Epson's factory: Channel 4 investigates the cost of ink

A look at ink manufactured by suppliers vs ink from cartridge remanufacturers
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Epson opened up its ink factory's doors in a new Channel 4 programme investigating why ink costs the price is does.

The documentary compared the cost of ink manufactured by suppliers, such as Epson, with that from cartridge remanufacturers, and took an exclusive look at Epson’s ink factory in Telford, which had never before been captured by a broadcast crew.

The programme showcased the cleanroom environment and the advanced manufacturing and technology that goes into producing an Epson ink cartridge.

Epson’s VP of marketing, EMEA, Rob Clark, also answered many of the common questions as to why ink cartridges cost what they do and explains some of the key reasons behind this.

Clark discussed the improved accuracy and efficiency of printing technology, comparing printing with ‘hitting a football field with a contact lens in a precise location 43,000 times a second’.

He also spoke about the low cost of printer hardware and how ink costs are a way for manufacturers to recoup their costs over time.

Epson also highlighted how customers now have a ‘choice for the first time in the UK’ thanks to the firm’s EcoTank refillable printer, which has no need for cartridges. The EcoTank allows a saving of up to 70 per cent to be made on printing costs, and provides un-interrupted printing for up to two years

When it came to remanufactured cartridges, the programme’s first attempt to restore some cartridges didn’t work, highlighting some of the risks that can occur when using remanufactured cartridges.

“Channel 4 has done a great job in explaining the complexities of the printing market for consumers. We worked closely with the producers to share the process behind our ink manufacturing and the programme demonstrated the great lengths we go to, to ensure we produce high quality products which deliver the excellent results our customers expect from us,” said Leonie Toal, spokesperson for Epson UK.

“It gave us a platform to explain how we make our ink, our traditional printer/cartridge business model, and the important fact that with the introduction of our refillable ink printers – EcoTank - we can now offer customers a real choice in how they print.”

Epson has recently announced that it will invest approximately 3.4 billion yen on the construction of a new factory to increase production capacity of printheads for inkjet printers.

Construction will begin in November 2015 and the new factory, which will begin operations in the autumn of 2016, will triple the firm's current printhead production capacity.

You can watch Channel 4’s cost of ink investigation here – the segment on ink starts around the 14 minute mark.

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