Can Empty Ink Cartridges Damage Print Heads?

Can Empty Ink Cartridges Damage Print Heads?

07/12/2022 Information 0

Keeping your printer in good working order can help your company avoid productivity losses and unnecessary repair costs. One of the most damaging things you can do to your printer is to leave an empty ink cartridge in it, or to let a cartridge run dry while you’re printing. An empty cartridge can damage and clog the print heads of a printer. At best, you’ll have to replace the cartridge and perform some maintenance, but you could end up damaging the print head to the point where it needs to be replaced.

Heat Damage
The ink in the cartridge serves two purposes in thermal inkjet printers. It first and foremost provides pigmentation for printed imagery. Second, it serves as a cooling agent for the printer head. Thermal inkjet printer heads include a small heating element that vaporises a small amount of ink to create a steam bubble inside the nozzle and generate the force needed to push a droplet through the nozzle onto the paper. Without ink to act as a coolant, the element in the print head can begin to burn out and cause permanent damage, necessitating the replacement of the entire print head.

Vacuum Seal Damage
A piezoelectric vacuum system is used in Epson printers. The piezoelectric crystal is located in the nozzle rather than a heating element. When a current is applied to the crystal, it vibrates, allowing ink to drip into the nozzle before the seal is closed again. When the cartridge is empty and the printer is turned on, air is drawn past the crystal, causing the vacuum seal to break. As a result, even replacing the cartridge will yield poor results – or none at all – until the vacuum is restored by forcing air out of the head.

Clogged Print Head
Leaving an empty cartridge in the printer can cause clogs, which can impede performance and potentially damage the print heads over time. However, if the printer is not used for an extended period of time or with an empty cartridge, the ink residue on the head can dry out. This causes ink clots on the head, which can clog the system and cause poor performance. Many printers have a head-cleaning mode that can clear clogs at the cost of wasted ink. However, if these modes are insufficient to clear the clogs, all you do is waste ink and risk causing long-term damage to the heads by forcing more ink through them than during normal operation.

Preventative Measures
It is fairly simple to avoid damage caused by empty cartridges. The simplest method is to not let the cartridges run dry; your computer will usually notify you when your ink cartridge is low. If not, you can usually tell by the appearance of white streaks, faded colours, or other signs of poor print quality. You reduce the risk of print head damage by replacing cartridges when they are low rather than empty. If you’re not going to use your printer for a long time or it will be a long time before you replace an empty cartridge, you should save the print head. Remove the printer head and place it in a plastic bag with little air and a few drops of water to keep moisture in the bag. This prevents the head from drying out and clogging during extended periods of inactivity.

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