An ink cartridge is a major constituent of an inkjet printer, the main function of which is to store and distribute ink. It works by sprouting ink on the document while it is being printed. In some models the actual print head may also be integrated in the design of the cartridge. The cartridge in these models will be made up of ink reservoirs and may also include a chip that communicates with the printer and electronic contacts in more advanced models.
How an Ink Cartridge Works
The majority of cartridges use thermal technology. Each partition of the ink reservoir contains a small metal plate or resistor that will conduct heat. An electrical current will be passed over the thermal device causing it to become hot. Instantly the ink will form a minuscule air bubble within the nozzle. This causes the ink to increase in volume thereby being forced out of the nozzle and unto the paper that is being printed. It should be noted that the ink in the cartridge will act as a cooling mechanism for the heated thermal device. Once the ink runs low, the printer head is at risk of being permanently damaged if the metal plates or resistors are allowed to overheat and then melt.
Key Information about Ink Cartridges
- In most cases the printer will use two cartridges one that contains black ink and another that contains colored ink consisting of all the primary colors. There are other printers that may further separate the cartridges into specific primary colors that are purchased individually. Other manufacturers may also develop ink directly for digital photographic printing.
- Ink cartridges made for one brand are incompatible with another brand. Hence you would not expect to use an Epson cartridge with a Canon printer.
- There are some cartridges that are designed with the print head within the cartridge itself. HP, Dell and Lenmark are a few that offer this type of technology. This ensures that the printer may be sold at a more reasonable price. However, the replacement cartridges are, as expected, more expensive because of this. Other manufacturers may produce cartridges that lack the print head making the actual printer more expensive to purchase. The main advantage of using a printer cartridge that contains the print head is that you will only need to change the ink cartridge should the print head become damaged at some point.
Ways to Save Money on Replacement Ink Cartridges
Ink cartridges are generally expensive once produced by the manufacturer. In many cases the price of both a colored and black cartridge may be equal to or more than the cost of an entirely new printer. Some of the larger companies including Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Dell and Canon sell their printers for drastically reduced cost to the point where each sale may be recorded as a loss. In spite of this, these companies more than make up for this initial loss by selling high-costing ink cartridges and toners.
Essentially printer users can expect to spend more than 10 times the printer’s value in the long run simply by replacing the ink cartridges. It is therefore understandable why consumers search for more affordable ways to operate their printers via inexpensive ink cartridge alternatives.
A few ways that consumers may avoid the exceedingly high prices involved is by: purchasing in bulk, buying refill kits and or purchasing generic cartridges, i.e. those sold by other manufacturers for a specific brand of printer.
Since the price of the ink cartridge is profoundly significant, when buying a printer be sure that you find out the cost of the manufacturer’s standard ink cartridges. In addition you should determine if the cartridges will be easily refilled if that option is also being considered.