Your ink cartridges can make or break your printer

In Printing Tips |

On January 30, 2017

You know that ink cartridges are an integral part of a printer. After all, if you don’t have ink in there, you simply can’t print. But did you know that those ink cartridges can also help you keep your printer in good working order?

It’s true!

Ink cartridges can have a huge impact on two main areas in your printer: the print heads and the moving parts near the cartridges. Essentially, ink cartridges can either block or unblock the printer heads, and they can either be in the way of the nearby moving parts or not.

Let’s look at how ink cartridges can affect your printer, from beginning to end.

Buying the wrong cartridges can do damage.

Obviously, buying the wrong model of cartridge can do lots of damage, but if you buy a cheaply made compatible cartridge, it can do some serious damage, too. Not all compatible cartridges are made equal – especially if they are manufactured in a part of the world that doesn’t have to meet particularly stringent manufacturing standards – and this could cause all sorts of trouble. At best, you could be looking at leaking ink cartridges. At worst, poorly designed cartridges could hurt the internal mechanics of your printer.

Storing your cartridges properly can improve printer performance.

The way you store your cartridges can have a big impact on your printer. This seems like a strange claim, but it makes sense when you think about it. Proper ink cartridge storage means keeping your cartridges completely sealed, upright (like they would be in the printer), and out of direct sunlight.

This is how it works:

  • Unsealed cartridge packaging can lead to dried out ink, which can block the printer head and ruin the image quality.
  • Storing cartridges upright, in the same position they’d be in the printer, gives the ink a chance to settle down into the cartridge. This pushes any air bubbles up and out of the way, so they don’t mess up the flow of ink out of the cartridge and onto the page.
  • Keeping ink out of direct sunlight keeps the ink from being faded by the sun, which keeps colours as sharp as the day the cartridges were built.

Installing ink cartridges correctly is key.

This point probably needs the least explanation. If you install your cartridges incorrectly, either they simply won’t work or, worse, they will get in the way of the delicate internal moving parts, causing severe damage.

Make sure you know what you’re doing when you install your ink cartridges. Manufacturers do try to make this as easy as possible, but that’s no reason to get complacent. Always check the user manual before you start. Then, once you’re ready to install the cartridge, turn off the printer to keep things from moving unexpectedly. Open the cartridge packaging the very moment you’re ready to put the new cartridges in, to keep the ink as fresh as possible. Never touch any parts of the printer that move, and take care not to touch the cartridge chip, especially when removing any protective clips or print head tape that may be on the cartridge.

Using your printer regularly will keep it in tip-top shape.

Use your printer at least once a week. This keeps the printer head from blocking, which in turn prevents streaks and blobs appearing on your print outs.

You got a printer because you needed to print stuff off, right? So just go ahead and use it. Do some printable crafts. Keep your kids entertained with printable games. Print off recipes or photos or whatever you like. Just make sure you’re using your printer regularly.

As a bonus, regular use of your printer will also let you know quickly if something has gone a bit wrong, so you can fix it before it becomes a huge problem.

Replacing your cartridges before the ink runs out could save your print head.

We all know that printer ink isn’t cheap, but replacing print heads is way more expensive. Print heads can be easily damaged, especially by dried-out ink. If you don’t use your printer every day, consider replacing the ink cartridges right when you get an alert that the ink is running low, instead of when it runs out completely. That way, you’re not forcing your print heads to try to use increasingly dry, solidifying ink, and you save it from being placed under some pretty severe strain.

There you have it. From beginning to end, from the initial purchase to the day they need to be replaced, your ink cartridges have a massive impact on your printer’s performance. And if you follow the tips we’ve shared, you’ll not only get the most out of each and every print job, you’ll also keep your printer doing its job for far longer than you otherwise would.

 

 

Last modified: March 6, 2017

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