Can Printer Cartridges Dry Out? Everything You Need to Know

Inkjet printing is a major technological feat and was first created in the 1950s. It allows us to recreate images from our computer screens by propelling dye-based ink onto the page through a small nozzle. It is a widely utilised process and has helped many of us in work, leisure, and study throughout the years. The need for printing has been around for hundreds and thousands of years and as technology has advanced, so have our methods. We have come a long way from the woodblock printing that was popular in East Asia before 200 AD or the lithography that dominated the scene in the 1700s. Now we can conveniently pop our ink cartridge into our printer and in a matter of moments, we have an incredibly accurate digital rendering of what was on our screen.

Nonetheless, with all innovation come inevitable struggles, and when it comes to ink cartridges, their propensity to dry out can always be a cause of concern. Being in the know about why this happens and opting for reputable sellers can enable you to care for your cartridges in the best way possible, and this is where we come in. We are passionate about reliability, customer service, and offering high-quality products that are built to last. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of why cartridges might dry out, it’s important to look at what materials they’re made from. Most inkjet printer cartridges are made from plastic and contain dye ink. They are created with dissolved colourant that is carefully suspended in a water-based liquid. Dye ink is praised for its colour vibrancy and was the original ink used in inkjet printing. Another popular one is pigment-based ink. This ink is made up of solid pigment particles and is said to be more durable than its dye-based counterpart.
Many printers today opt to use a combination of the two inks. Dye ink, since it is known for its vivid colour, might be used in colour printing, and pigment ink (since it is more durable), might be used for documents that require black ink. Whatever type of ink you opt for, it is best to choose the ink cartridge that is best suited to your particular print. Nonetheless, even the best cartridges can dry out sometimes, and we all know how frustrating that can be when we have an urgent printing task at hand. So, why does this happen and can we prevent it?

Why Do Ink Cartridges Dry Out?

Ink cartridges can dry out for a number of reasons and most of these can be prevented with the correct knowledge and care. Some of the key reasons why your ink cartridge might run out of ink include:
  • Not being used enough. We have all been there. You have not used our printer in weeks and suddenly you have an urgent document that needs printing. You have left it till the last minute and then that foreboding message pops up on our screen. Your printer is unable to print. “Why?”, you lament, cursing your printer for its audacity when you have never asked much of it before. You hardly use it and in your time of need, it lets you down. When cartridges are not used regularly, they might end up drying up and become clogged. When they are clogged, they are not able to deposit their ink on your page. There is a fine line between sparing your ink and neglecting it to the extent that it completely dries up. As a rule, you should print out one or two documents a week to ensure that the cartridge is constantly in use. This will prevent any clogging and ultimately prolong the life of your ink cartridge.
  • It is not being stored at room temperature. Another reason for ink cartridges drying is incorrect storage. Ideally, ink cartridges should be kept at room temperature, as an extreme temperature that is either too cold or too hot can wreak havoc on them. Keep your office temperature at around 25 °C. Instead of cranking up that heater, wrap up in some extra layers during those cold winter months and try to keep the room temperature as neutral as possible when you can.
  • Not cleaning older cartridge heads. While most modern-style printers have specialised cartridge-head cleaning abilities, some old printers rely on manual cleaning. If you are using an older printer with older cartridges, you might need to clean them regularly. To clean an ink-cartridge head manually, you will need to soak it in warm water and carefully wipe away any dried ink that is clogging the nozzle. Be sure to wear gloves and old clothes for this process; otherwise, you could stain your hands or ruin your clothes. It is also imperative that you allow the cartridge to thoroughly dry before re-inserting it into your printer, as this could cause severe water damage. Although most modern printers have self-cleaning cartridge systems, it is important that you check out your printer model before purchasing ink cartridges.

How To Expand the Lifespan of Your Ink Cartridge

Many ink cartridges come with an expiration date and this should give you an idea of how long they are supposed to last. These times can vary from a few months to a few years if they are stored well. There have even been instances of them lasting beyond this date when cared for properly. Nonetheless, sometimes they dry out quicker than expected, and it is thus useful to take heed of these tricks to expand their lifespan.
  • Store your cartridges correctly. When your cartridges are not in use, they need to be stored correctly to avoid them drying out. If you are buying cartridges in bulk, ensure they are sealed until you decide to use them. Always store them in an upright position and keep them in a cool space. Remember, extreme temperatures can cause them to dry prematurely and this could be disastrous if you are buying a large quantity for your company.
  • Purchase cartridges from reputable brands and stores. This might seem like an obvious one but purchasing your ink cartridges from a reputable store who can guarantee you a legitimate cartridge shelf-life is essential. When buying in bulk, it is especially important to opt for high-quality products that are made to last. Printing is such a fundamental part of the corporate and educational world and you need to opt for a brand who care. Buying ink cartridges on the cheap might seem like a money saver initially but if they all run out of ink or destroy your printer due to incompatibility, it might cost you more in the end.
  • Cleaning them regularly if they need a clean. If you are using an older printer and are utilising older cartridges that need cleaning manually, do not skip this task. While it might seem a little boring and unnecessary, it can be the difference between a printer that works and a printer that does not.
  • Printing weekly to avoid clogging. Even if you do not need to print every week, it is essential to print a page or two.

Buying Your Ink Cartridges From A Reputable Source

Cartridges can thus dry out for an array of reasons, from extreme room temperatures to a lack of regular use. While there are a number of precautions you can take to prolong the life of your ink cartridges, it is also important to purchase your ink cartridges from a reputable source who pride themselves on quality checks and user satisfaction. Opt for brands that have stood the test of time (here at CH Africa, our range includes HP, Samsung, Lexmark, OKI, Epson, and more) and choose a company who cares.

At CH Africa we have over 25 years of experience in the printing industry and our expert team is always on call to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction when it comes to all things printing. We will offer you a custom quote for your unique tasks and find an ink cartridge that is best suited to your individual needs and printer specifications. We can offer you high-quality products that are bound to thrive in the right environment.

Give us a call today and we will happily assist you in finding the perfect cartridge for all your printing endeavours. While we are injecting reliability into your office space, you can focus on getting the important work done.
Return to blog