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How To Extend the Life of Your Cartridge

A cartridge contains a print head (the metallic-looking portion of the cartridge), nozzles and circuitry. All are housed within the cartridge itself. The print head, nozzles and circuitry perform most of the work when printing.

Nozzles (where the ink comes out): Cartridges can contain between 48 and 320 nozzles (and more), are smaller than a human hair and connect to a heater or resistor which heats and cools the ink inside the cartridge. When the ink is heated, a bubble forms. When the heat is removed, the bubble bursts, sending dots of ink through the nozzles and onto the page. The dots form the characters on the page at a rate of 6,000 drops per second.

When your cartridge wears out, it is actually the heaters that are "burning" out. This will happen, on average, every 3-5 times you refill or recycle.

The only reason cartridges have a limited refill life is the resistors that control the current to each outlet jet. When a cartridge runs out of ink, the resistors can overheat and burn out. Most printers will warn you of a low cartridge before it completely runs out of ink. At the first sign of low ink, refill or top off your ink cartridge to ensure a long refillable life!

Prevent Print Head Burnout: (Lexmark cartridge types)

Did you know that one of the most common causes of printer cartridge failure is print head burnout?

When the printer gives the command for an inkjet nozzle to print, many things happen. A certain quantity of ink is already in the firing chamber, having been pulled there by capillary, gravity or vacuum action after the last firing. The electronics package (the copper circuitry on the side of the cartridge) instructs the heating resistor to heat the ink in the chamber, causing it to expand. This very quick expansion forces ink to shoot through the print head nozzle onto the paper.

The actual structures that make up the print head are quite small. Each print head nozzle assembly consists of the nozzle plate with hole, a chamber to contain the ink, the resistor plate in the chamber and walls to guide the incoming ink to the correct position. These microscopic structures are very sensitive and delicate, and there are over 300 on the end of a typical printer cartridge.

The ink that flows through this assembly is to the print head what water is to the engine of an automobile. With no water in your car radiator, your engine will soon burn up. The same is true for your printer cartridges. The resistor that heats the ink quickly achieves a temperature of hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit! Without the cooling action of the ink, the microscopic print head substructures crack and begin to break apart, and the nozzle plate begins to warp and pull away from the cartridge.

Once print head burnout has begun, the cartridge can no longer be expected to perform as well as it did. The cartridge may leak, print with streaks of ink on the paper, or may just print poorly -- resulting in banding, poor color definition, bad coloration, missing characters and light / dark text. Printing even part of a page with no ink in the cartridge can damage your print head.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to refill your cartridges before they run dry. Print head burnout is one reason this is so important.

Late model printers may offer an "ink level gauge" letting you know when to replace your cartridge. Unfortunately these software gauges are "guesstimates" of the actual ink level in the cartridges and are based on pages printed, not on any physical measurement of ink levels.

For this reason we suggest that you top off your cartridges on a regular basis. If you know that you use a cartridge every two months, refill every month. Place a sticky note on your printer to remind you when to refill next. If you rely on your printer ink level gauge, be sure to refill before the "out of ink" indicator pops up. Note: If you have ink left over, don't worry, it'll keep!

Lexmark Printers Troubleshooting | Lexmark Printers | Printer Problems

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
winfieldzenith
Nov. 20th, 2012 10:55 am (UTC)
Printer Cartridges
You have provided great tips to extend the life of cartridges. Ink Cartridges should be reliable and give excellent print quality. Thanks for sharing.
Printer Cartridges
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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