Printer Shortages in 2020

The great printer shortage of 2020

Last Updated on December 5, 2020 by Christopher G Mendla

In addition to all the other insanity 2020 has brought, there is a bit of a printer shortage as well as an ink shortage. 

Empty printer shelves and low ink stocks.

A client was having problems with his home printer. When I checked it out I found that it was about 10 years old and the wifi wasn’t working. The simple solution would be to replace it. 

We took a quick drive over to Staples an found that the printer shelves were bare with the exception of about 3 higher end models. We were looking for something in the under $150 range. The manager was very helpful and explained what they were seeing as far as incoming stock. The same problem applied to webcams as well as ink and toner.  

No printers in stock – September 2020

Printers are available they are just difficult to locate. My client was able to pick up a printer that met his needs later that day at a local Best Buy. 

Think Ahead

Hoarding is not necessary – but-

You should be proactive in purchasing printers and supplies.

The reason for printer and ink shortages

The reasons for the shortages should be obvious. People working at home no longer have access to the large office copiers and printers. The same applies to students studying in a virtual environment. 

The situation is similar to the great Covid toilet paper shortage. When people were locked down, they used household toilet paper instead of the institutional toilet paper found in homes and offices. 

The supply chain was disrupted when people stopped using the large office printers and copiers and switched to smaller home multifunction machines. Even as lockdowns are eased, many people will still be working from home. It will take a while for the supply chain to readjust from office centered printing to home printing. 

Mitigation and solutions

Go Paperless

Do you REALLY need to print that document? I have been trying to move to a paperless environment employing a scan and shred policy for most documents. This has helped reduce the need for printing and making copies. 

Research capacities and alternatives

While printer selections are limited and you might have to ‘get what you can get’, do a little research. Ink cartridges are not known for printing a lot of pages per cartridge. Check the estimated pages. There are printers today that will allow you to use bulk ink or easily refill the cartridges. These are known as “Continuous Ink Systems“.   NOTE – you might void your printer’s warranty by converting to one of these systems

Limit usage

If locating ink for your printer is difficult, make sure that your household is aware of the need to conserve ink.

Switch to a laser printer

Consider switching to a laser printer. They are more expensive but have a much greater capacity per cartridge in general. 

Use a printing service

If you need a lot of copies of the same document, it might pay to use a printing service from a local office supply store or printer instead of using your ink or toner and putting wear and tear on your printer.


Assess your printing needs for the foreseeable future. If you think you will need a replacement or additional printer, give yourself plenty of time. Research the most efficient way to deliver the printed pages you need.

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