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Ink cartridge - Thermal Inkjets, Pricing and Options

cartridges printer head consumers

The majority of inkjet printers made by companies like Lexmark, HP, and Canon use thermal inkjets. Inside of each compartment of the reservoir of ink is a heating apparatus accompanied by a small metal plate that acts as a resistor. Responding to a signal put out by the printer, a small current flows through the resistor, causing it to warm up. The ink closest to the heated plate is made into an air bubble within the dispenser. A result of this is that the total volume of the ink far exceeds that required by the nozzle. A drop of ink is squeezed from the cartridge opening onto the paper in a process that takes less than a second. The quality of the printing depends on the ink flowing smoothly, a process that can be stalled if the ink begins to clog at the print head. The clogging can occur when the ink level becomes very low. Clogged ink can be removed from the head of a cartridge by carefully rubbing it with isopropyl alcohol with a swab or paper towel. The ink can also act as a coolant that protects the heating elements of the metal plates. If the supply of ink is depleted, and printing is attempted, the heating elements can burn out. This can permanently damage the print head. The cartridge should be replaced when the ink starts running thin to avoid damaging the print head.

Ink Cartridge Pricing and Options

Ink cartridges are known to be very expensive. Many consumers use compatible ink cartridges made by a company other than the printer’s manufacturer. An alternative to this is to use ink reservoirs located externally to provide ink to the cartridges with a continuous flow. Consumers may also use inexpensive ink even though it will eventually damage the printer. This is because the cost savings of several refilled cartridges can usually pay for the cost of a brand new printer. If the printer is able to last even longer than that, then the consumer will have been able to obtain the same result at a much lower cost than using original supplies. Major printer manufacturers such as Brother, Lexmark, Epson, Hewlett Packard, Dell, and Canon often lose money by selling printers at a low price. They expect to recoup any monetary losses by selling overpriced cartridges. Because the printer manufacturers’ profits are made up mostly of ink and toner cartridge sales, big companies have taken a number of actions to limit the ability of consumers to use cheaper, but comparable cartridges. One way to get around this is for consumers to have their cartridges refilled with ink rather than purchase new cartridges. This is the least-costly option.

[back] Ingram, Rex (1895–1969)

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