LX400 Ink Trick

LX400 Label Printer
I’ve mentioned before that we use a Primera LX400 to print the labels for our products. It’s a great little printer, and no, unfortunately they aren’t paying me to say that. Still, it is a great little printer. Ours has printed tens of thousands of labels. The cost is lower than getting the labels made at a commercial printing company and the quality is higher. It also gives us more control so we can do nano-scopically short runs, printing labels on-demand as we need them each week. That saves additional money by not having inventory.

There is a catch: the printer tells you when it runs out of ink. Unfortunately, it lies. I find that there is still about 40% more ink in the cartridge at the point it starts complaining. Push it. Don’t switch cartridges just because the machine tells you to switch cartridges.

Before, Cleaning Cycle, After, Much Later…

Even when the ink starts to look washed out there is another trick – print a cleaning cycle. I get hundreds more labels by doing that. During this last bit I do have to babysit the printer, sticking around to check it every half hour or so for when it really does run out – not a big deal if I have something else to do nearby. Once it really runs out the change in color becomes very dramatic. Then change the cartridge.

Doing this I am getting an average of 1,724 labels per cartridge over the last 8 cartridges. That comes out to be 2¢ per label for the cost of the ink. The label stock itself costs me another 2.5¢ on average depending on what vendor I get it from and if it is perfed or not (1.75¢ to 3.5¢ range). This puts my cost per label at about 4.5¢ which is excellent.

Because the cost is so low I haven’t tried the refills, yet. I would be interested in hearing from anyone with this printer or the LX800 who has used third party refills on it.

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About Walter Jeffries

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15 Responses to LX400 Ink Trick

  1. Anon says:

    I can’t speak to that particular printer, but in my experience over a few years of office tech support work I haven’t had good luck with third party refills. They produce fine prints, but they usually give you about half the number of prints that a regular cartridge would. That’s more often due to breakage than actually being out of ink.

    Your mileage may vary.

  2. Bill Harshaw says:

    Walt: please check your “Terracing” post. It doesn’t open for me. Thanks

    • Aye, my fingers got ahead of me and pushed publish when I meant to save draft. The perils of push button publishing! Look for a post by that title someday in the future when it is more polished. I’ve got about 550 posts that are aging until they’re just right… Charcuterie of the word.

  3. Janis Scott says:

    I’ve been looking to find out more about this printer. I need to print labels for our farm. Thanks for the sort of review. The printer is expensive but I think it will be worth it. We do grass fed beef and I want a better presence in the stores than the butcher’s generic one color label. I really love your label. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow the design. Not the artwork but the way you laid everything out. Do you have a sorce of clipart for like your pig?

    • Feel free to base your label on our design, with your own artwork and information, of course. It has worked very well for us and we’ve gotten many great complements on it. That label got us into two stores – the meat manager had seen the label at competitor’s stores. My talented wife Holly drew the pig from a photograph I took of “Big Pig”, one of our original sows. In addition to doing line art drawings like the pig on our label she also does highly realistic pencil portraits. Check out this one of our daughter Hope and notice the incredible detail. If you would like to email her a photo she may be able to draw you a line art of your animal in a similar style of drawing for your label for $25.

  4. Janis Scott says:

    Oh my gosh! Your wife is incredibly talented! I would have thought that drawing of your little girl was a photograph. It pops off the page and is so incredibly realistic! I would love to have Holly draw a clipart for our farm’s meat label. I will work on getting some good pictures of our cattle.

  5. Johan van der Merwe says:

    The laserjet also goes further when taken out and you hit or shake it a few times.

  6. Farmerbob1 says:

    If you haven’t already discovered this, Walter, I’ll just say that third party refills are questionable at best – especially on cartridges with moving parts.

    The manufacturer creates the cartridges as cheaply as they can to perform to a ‘reasonable’ standard. By the time the cartridge is expended, there has typically been fairly extensive wear and tear on the parts which move. Cartridges without moving parts can also experience wear issues during their lifetime, which aren’t a serious issue during the time it takes to use the original ink loaded into the cartridges.

    However, when the refiller drills a hole into the cartridge, loads it with an ink or toner which is probably not exactly what the original manufacturer used, and then sells it back to you, that wear and tear accumulates. If you’ve gotten a third-or-fourth hand cartridge, you can end up with a real stinker.

    Every manufacturer uses different technologies. Over time those technologies change. If you want to use refilled cartridges, I would never pay more than half-price for them.

    That being said, some cartridge technologies are better suited to re-use than others. Some research on exact models, and physically inspecting the cartridge / looking at exploded diagrams of inner working if possible would be in order if you really want to make an informed decision.

    Some manufacturers sell refurbished cartridges (typically toner cartridges because they are expensive enough to be worth putting a little labor into them to refurbish them), which have had the components which develop wear replaced as well as being refilled. These are far more reliable as a general rule, but will cost you more then third-party refillers will charge.

    • Ah, Bob, you just stepped into my ken – my deep knowledge base. It just so happens that I invented a variety of laser printer and copier toners back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, literally wrote the manual on this topic and created and operated a very successful business that manufactured new and refillable cartridges for laser printers. Not drill and fill.

      That is all very different than the LX400 ink which is much simpler. For my purposes with label printing I’ve stuck with the OEM LX400 ink cartridges.

      And here you thought I was just a simple pig farmer. Secret Agent X to you. :)

  7. Jon Tobey says:

    First, to be clear, the print clean cycle lives in Nicelabel not the printer. That took me a minute. Second, this has never worked for me. ;-(

    • I don’t have “NiceLabel” which is extra software. We just print directly using our Mac’s. It may be that on the Windows computer what you’re saying is true or it could be that the cleaning cycle you’re seeing with NiceLabel, be it on Windows or otherwise, is something different than we’re getting on the Mac since it does work for us and has with two printers across a span of many years and multiple MacOSX updates. Thinking more I suspect that is the case – the NiceLabel may just not support the full printer cleaning cycle. Best thing to do is contact Primera Support for details as they’ll know more…

  8. I too discovered that you do gain more mileage by running the ink cartridge to “run out” of ink. I have been able to print over 400 additional labels, when the software tells me to change the cartridge due to ink running low. Question — How do you run a cleaning cycle on the LX400?? There is no “cleaning cycle” button as described in the manual. Much appreciation towards any assistance, I am experiencing smearing on labels. Thanks!

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