How an Inkjet Cartridge Works

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How Inkjet Cartridges Work

The print head and the circuitry perform most of the work on an inkjet printer. And, in most cases, these are not permanently installed in the printer – they are contained on the small inkjet cartridge itself. Today, there can be anywhere from 48 to 320 nozzles or “jets” on a print head located at the bottom of your discount inkjet cartridge.  That's why a non-name brand or compatible inkjet cartridge won't ruin your printer!

Each of these nozzles is smaller than a human hair and each is connected electronically to a heater (or resistor) that actually heats and cools the ink inside the cartridge. When the ink is heated, a bubble forms. When the heat source is removed, the bubble bursts and sends dots of ink through the nozzles and onto the paper in the printer. This heating and cooling process happens at very high rates of speed, creating dots that form print characters on the page at rates of up to 6,000 drops per second.

It was previously believed that the heaters in ink jet cartridges would only last for one use. Now manufacturers realize that the heaters continue to do their work and the nozzles continue to fire beyond one use on most inkjet cartridges. In fact, the heaters on most cartridges will continue to fire until they burn out completely or weaken significantly. On the average, that happens somewhere between the third and fifth time the cartridge is used.

For consumers, this information is useful in three ways. One, remanufacturing services or refill kits can extend the life of a cartridge without fear that the inkjet printer itself will be ruined. If the “workhorse” of the printer is the print head and circuitry contained on the printer cartridge itself, then the most a consumer would risk is the minimal fee involved in remanufacturing the cartridge or purchasing a refill kit. Secondly, purchasing a compatible inkjet cartridge instead of a brand name cartridge cannot ruin a printer that does not contain a print head. The print head and circuitry is on the cartridge, not in the printer. Therefore, the consumer would again be risking only the amount one paid for a generic inkjet cartridge – not the cost of replacing an inkjet printer. And lastly, it emphasizes the importance of purchasing compatibles from a manufacturer that produces inkjet cartridges to the same specs (ISO standards) as brand name manufacturers, and backs that up with a strong guarantee.

Eventually, all inkjet cartridges will wear out. And, if you are refilling your cartridges, you should know that this does not always coincide with when your cartridge runs out of ink. If you start seeing horizontal bands, white streaks, or incomplete areas with no ink – that could be a sign that your inkjet cartridge is nearing the end. There are some common inkjet cartridge problems that can cause these same conditions. Check our list of common fixes and if these don’t correct your print problem, it is time to replace your inkjet cartridge.

Although ink jet cartridges won’t last forever, purchasing economical compatibles and using remanufacturing services and refill kits will extend the life of most inkjet cartridges without harming the inkjet printer itself.

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