Franking Machine Ink Cartridges

By Dan Barraclough

How To Change Ink on a Franking Machine

The way you change the ink on a franking machine may depend on your model number and manufacturer, but it normally follows the steps outlined in the above video where we change the ink on a Pitney Bowes franking machine.

Franking Machine Ink

Franking machine ink is used to print the red indicia necessary to prove that your mailing items have valid paid postage and it has to meet certain Royal Mail requirements as the Royal Mail is responsible for delivering all UK mail. These requirements are to prevent fraud and also to make sure that specialized machines can read them for faster processing.

These requirements include the spacing of the postage mark from the edge of the envelope and the presence of specific machine information such as the franking machine serial number. Modern day franking machines also use the ink for the printing of promotional messages on envelopes and many now print full colour marketing material and logos on their franked mail.

Choosing a good quality franking machine cartridge is more of an issue since the Office of Fair Trading ruled in 2005 that franking machine manufacturers cannot invalidate warranties on the basis of compatible cartridges being used. This has led to the rapid increase of cut price franking machine ink of all standards, good and bad. In addition to this, replacing franking machine cartridges must be done with care for the machine and the cartridge.

There are a huge range of ink cartridges to choose from, some of which come with more benefits than others. Initially, you should decided if you are happy to use a black or red mono ink cartridge or would like to go for the more modern colour cartridge. Colour cartridges for franking machines are becoming increasingly popular, due to companies wishing to display their logo or some clever marketing slogan within the franking impression.

Re-manufactured ink cartridges are also popular at the moment as suppliers are able to keep costs at a minimum when supplying these. You can pick up a good quality, re-manufactured ink cartridge for around £15, depending on type and output requirements. Some ink cartridges are better than others mainly due to quality of ink, value for money and impressions per cartridge.

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Pitney Bowes provide a good range of guaranteed, Royal Mail approved, ink cartridges ranging in price from around £30 for the Personal Post model (roughly 5000 impressions per cartridge), up to around £130 for the high tech Genuine Original models for larger machines (over 1,100 impressions per cartridge this varies), which are often provided with free labels.

There are some excellent deals on the Ink Toner UK website, suitable for Pitney Bowes and Francotyp Postalia franking machines. They offer discounted ink cartridges (up to 50% off) for various models and also supply T1000 ribbons for FP and Optimail 30 franking machines.

Whatever your requirements, shop around for the best prices. There are lots of amazing deals around if you look in the right places.

How Long Does Franking Machine Ink Last?

Ink cartridges for any product can be costly and franking is no exception to the rule. Genuine inks are Royal Mail approved and reliable. Compatible inks are available but are known to cause problems with franking machines and the definition of print can be unrecognisable to Royal Mail sorting offices. However, some compatible inks are Royal Mail approved and guaranteed.

Prices for genuine inks are dependent on which product you own but, on average, cartridges costing around £60 – £100 will allow you 15,000 – 40,000 impressions (between 3p and 6p per print). The amount of time your ink will last will depend on your mail output.

Remember, if you are using a smart franking machine, this will need to be blue ink.

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Replacing Franking Machine Ink Cartridges

If you have any experience of replacing ink jet printer cartridges you will probably not be surprised by or have any difficulty in replacing a franking machine cartridge. However, each machine is different and it is essential that you follow handbook or display panel instructions on how to physically replace the cartridges. Many machines will require a sequence to be followed on screen first so that the print cartridge will be properly aligned for removal. Ignoring these instructions or not checking the instructions could lead to you forcing open the printer door and damaging the machine. Such damage caused by user error could be considered as machine abuse and consequently not be covered by your service contract or warranty.

Franking Machine Ink Cost

Franking machine ink cost can vary considerably between suppliers even for the same brand of cartridge and thorough research should be carried out into the supplying company. Franking machine ink prices can start from as cheap as £34 in the UK such as the cartridge for the entry level 20 pages per minute Pitney Bowes DM50. The 66 LPM (letters per minute) Frama Mail Max l franking machine uses cartridges that can cost around £89.95.

This may seem very expensive compared to the DM50 cartridge but the yield for the Frama cartridge is significantly higher than the DM50 making the cost per impression much cheaper. The Frama Mail Max l ink cartridge can last for 20,000 impressions or prints while the DM50 ink cartridge lasts for around 800. This means that the cost per impression for the DM50 cartridge is around 4.4p while the Frama Mail Max l ink cartridge cost is less than 0.5p per impression.

Compatible or Original, Which Type of Cartridge is Best?

In theory there is nothing wrong with compatible franking machine cartridges apart from the existence of very bad ones as they may not be as thoroughly tested as original cartridges. You can save a lot of money using good quality compatible cartridges which can save well over 50% of the cost of a new cartridge.

Some large corporate and not so large companies will only buy original supplies due to their own analysis into performance. If you are a small business or are the one who makes the buying decisions in your company then using compatible cartridges may be the only way to reduce costs and keep your profits at sustainable levels. Compatible ink cartridges for the DM50 can cost as little as £11.25.

Dan Barraclough

Dan’s a writer for Expert Market, specialising in a range of cool topics. He loves web design and all things UX, but also the hardware stuff like postage metres and photocopiers.

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