Can Printer Ink Cartridges Dry Out?
- Yes, printer ink cartridges can dry out over an extended period of time. If the cartridges are left sitting idle in the printer machine, then there is likely the chance of the cartridge becoming dry.
Printer cartridges, especially the ink cartridges, do not last for long. There are various reasons as to why the cartridges have such a short life.
In this article, let’s take a look at the multiple factors that cause the ink to dry out, affect the output and life of the printer ink cartridge.
Therefore, having an idea of the elements will help you in obtaining the best results from the printer. The aspects that influence ink may be shelf life, expiration dates and the maintenance of the printer ink cartridge.
So, why does the printer ink dry out?
There are numerous reasons as to why the ink cartridges dry out so quickly. Some of the reasons may be trivial but can present as the reason for your dried-out cartridge.
So, if your ink cartridges are drying out faster than they are supposed to, here’s a list of the issues related to it.
- Temperature matters
Storing your ink cartridges at the wrong temperature is one of the most common reasons for it to dry out. Keeping the ink cartridge at extremely low or high temperature will make the ink cartridge to dry out fast.
As the printer ink cartridge is in the liquid form, temperature acts upon it easily. The liquid ink tends to vaporize faster depending on the degree of the temperature.
Therefore, to make the most out of a cartridge, ensure that it is kept at room temperature.
- Seldom use of the printer
Printer ink cartridges are expensive. So, if you are planning to get one of the best in the market, give consideration to how often you are planning to use the printer.
The reason is the cartridges will dry up due to insufficient use. Due to the seldom usage, the nozzle and the printer head of the cartridge will become clogged.
So clogged cartridge means it’s going to be a tough job to get printing with the cartridge again.
Hence, to see that the issue does not arise, you can do a few print jobs every week. This will help in keeping the cartridge from drying up.
Check out my article on how to clean printer heads
- Choosing the refillable option
Now, the refilling of a printer cartridge yourself is not a Herculean task but can be quite a tricky one. A small mistake and the whole cartridge is wasted.
Refilling yourself may be a cheaper option than buying a new one, but it requires skill to make the refilling of the used cartridge to get a good result.
The main issue while refilling is that there should be no air pockets in the cartridge. If there is, it can lead to the clogged nozzle and further drying up of the ink.
Therefore, refilling at home is often not recommended as it is tricky as well as risky. Search the internet for a local store that can do it for you.
- Unclean cartridge heads
To guarantee that your printer works smoothly with no hitch, make sure that your printer head is cleaned regularly.
If the printer head is not cleaned regularly, the printing will be streaky and mottled. If you have a printer with an automatic built-in printer head cleaning utility, then you have not much to worry about.
But for those who do not have the build-in module, timely cleaning of the printer head manually is recommended. Cleaning the printer head does not require much effort.
So frequent cleanup of the printer head using a soft cloth is advised. This will ensure the optimum working of your printer.
- Composition of the ink cartridge
Most of the ink cartridges are liquid-based. The ink cartridges that are made today contain a base of soybean or linseed oil. It may also contain a product of petroleum which is used as a solvent. This is combined with color pigments.
The ink is created and designed in such a way that it must dry as fast as possible when printed. This property of quick-drying is another reason for the cartridges getting dried out.
How long does it take for a printer ink cartridge to dry out?
After the installation of the ink cartridge in the printer, it takes around 3-4 weeks to dry out. The estimated duration is based on the amount of use of the printer.
So, to make the cartridge lasts longer, printing documents every other week will help. This will not only allow you to get the most from the ink cartridge but also save the cartridge from drying out.
The shelf life of an ink cartridge
A printer ink cartridge’s shelf life is affected by the amount of time the cartridge remains sealed in its package.
For a store-bought cartridge, the shelf life is about 36 months. While for an original cartridge that comes with the printer, the shelf life is around 24 months.
Why expiration date matters
Yes! Even printer ink cartridges have expiration dates. Expiration dates are stated on the cartridges to encourage the users to use the cartridge before the ink becomes vulnerable to issues such as clogging or drying out, leading to inferior printing quality.
Therefore, using the cartridges well before the expiration date matters. Using the cartridge before the expiration date will ensure that the cartridge retains its intended quality printing property.
Is the cartridge useable after the expiration date?
The maintenance and storage play a significant role in the usability of the ink cartridge. The cartridges can last longer if it is stored properly in the right environment.
Most cartridges last for a minimum of two years if the seal remains unopened even after the date of purchase.
If you are lucky, the cartridge might still work even after the lapse of two years. However, a word of caution – an expired printer ink cartridge could possibly clog your nozzle or the printer head.
Now, this will turn out to be more expensive for you due to the use of the expired cartridge.
Tips to keep the ink cartridge from going dry
A printer ink cartridge is expensive. So, to make the maximal use for the amount that you paid for, here are some tips to save the cartridge from going dry.
- If the cartridge is placed in the printer, make sure to print your documents every week. This must be done to keep the cartridge from drying out.
- Another way is to take out the cartridge from the printer when not in use and keep it sealed. Some pointers on how to keep the cartridge from getting dry are –
- After taking out the cartridge from the printer, clean the printer head and the nozzle with a soft cloth. See that there are no specks of ink on the printer head.
- Next, take a small paper towel or a piece of cloth and dampen it with water. It must only be slightly damp so that no water will drip inside the nozzle.
- Then place the damp towel or cloth over the nozzle and cover it. Next, place the covered cartridge into a plastic bag.
- Place the cartridge in a cool and dry place. Never keep the cartridge under direct sunlight. Make sure that the cartridge is placed with the nozzle side up. This will prevent the water from getting inside the cartridge and getting mixed with the color.
- You might have to check the cartridge every week. If the cloth or towel is too dry, dampen it a little. But if you don’t want too much trouble, what you can do is place the covered cartridge in an air-tight plastic bag. This will help in retaining the moisture in the towel and save you the trouble of checking it frequently.
- Now, when you have to use the cartridge, take it out from the plastic casing and let the cartridge get to the room temperature if it was placed in the refrigerator. Then, you can take off the towel or cloth and wipe the nozzle with a dry cloth. Make sure that the contact terminals are clean before placing it inside the printer.
Printer ink cartridges can dry out quickly if it is not used frequently. Proper storage and usage are also necessary to prevent the cartridge from drying out.
Today, even the companies that manufacture the printer inks are charging high rates for noticeably less quantity of ink. So, to prevent from making a dent in your pocketbook by buying new cartridges to replace the dried out one, make sure that you use it properly.
In order to extract the maximum out of the ink cartridge, ensure that it remains sealed and stored right. Keep the cartridge upright in a cool place away from direct sunlight. For example, a drawer or a cupboard will also work.
After installation, make sure to do a print job at least once every week. This will help maintain the cartridge’s printing quality and also keep the ink from drying out. Or else you can also opt to take out the cartridge and keep it covered in an air-tight sealed package.