A group of major printer manufacturers have put their weight behind a new standard that helps customers figure out how much they'll get from their print cartridges.

Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark are working together to build a standard for measuring toner print cartridge yield, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard ISO/IEC 19752.

The new standard for monochrome toner cartridge yield aims to define the key attributes that affect yield. It applies statistical analysis so manufacturers can use the same method when measuring yield.

"For instance, instead of testing a couple of cartridges on a single printer, this standard requires that at least nine cartridges be tested on a minimum of three separate printers. Rather than taking the average of the yield of the nine cartridges, a robust statistical method is used to calculate the lower 95 per cent confidence bound. This more accurately represents the potential customer experience by taking into account manufacturing variations in the performance of the cartridges and the printers."

Printer manufacturers have used diverse methods in the past to assess this yield, which has made it hard for customers to assess differences between products.

Executive VP Canon Europe and head of consumer imaging for Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa Mogens Molgaard Jensen said: "The new ISO standard for determining monochrome toner yield puts a solid foundation in place to evolve standards for colour laser and inkjet technology."

Seiko CEO imaging and information products Seiichi Hirano called the standard "a call to action for the printing industry", and said the industry should establish standards for colour cartridges, too.