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How Long Do Inkjet Cartridges Last?

Jan 14th 2020

We’ve all been there: it's a Monday morning and you’re printing out your resume in advance of an interview when, suddenly, you realize your printer is out of ink. You’ve written a 10 page paper, and you’re just about to hand it in when you notice that the first eight pages look perfect, but the last two are faded. Or you’re printing family photos and they look almost right—but for some reason, the pinks overpower the blues.

Most households use inkjet cartridges, which aren’t expensive and easy-to-replace, yet we’ve all encountered some of the scenarios listed above. To avoid them and make sure you’re stocked with adequate ink, it’s important to answer a simple question: how long do inkjet cartridges last?

The answer is surprisingly a little complicated: it depends.

Printer Factors | What You Need To Know

Inkjet printer cartridges contain liquid ink that your printer heats or pressurizes to force out onto paper. Because these cartridges are full of liquid that can dry out over time, there are several factors that influence the lifespan of each cartridge:

  • The page yield of the ink cartridge itself
  • The age of the ink cartridge
  • The age of your printer

When you understand these three factors, you can take steps to prolong the life of your inkjet cartridges so you never have a printing snafu again.

Estimating Page Yield

When you shop at Supplies Outlet, you’ll see an estimated Page Yield for each printer ink. The Page Yield is the maximum number of pages a cartridge can print. For example, when shopping for ink for a Brothers LC103BK printer, you’ll see one option with a 600 Page Yield, and another ”super high yield“ cartridge with a 1200 Page Yield.

On both options, you’ll still want to read the fine print: these are approximate page yields based on the size of the paper you use and the amount of ink used per page. Manufacturers’ estimated page yields are based on an International Organization for Standardization method that assumes each letter-sized page you print is only 5% covered in ink.

  • Note: If you’re printing high quality photographs, you’ll use more ink than you would printing an excel spreadsheet, and your pages will definitely be more than 5% covered in ink!

Therefore, when choosing whether to purchase a regular, high-yield, or super-high-yield inkjet cartridge, consider your average printer use in a month or year.

Expiration Dates

It’s also important to note that inkjet cartridges are clearly marked with an expiration date. If you’ve bought a high yield inkjet cartridge with a page yield of 1200 pages and printed 200 pages in a year, that doesn’t mean your cartridge will last you five more years.

The liquid in these cartridges dries out over time, and most cartridges have a two year expiration date.

Just as with food, expiration can depend on environmental factors like exposure to heat and cold. Not every cartridge will stop working right at the twenty-four month mark: they might keep printing, but with less optimal results. However, some might dry out even faster.

The Age of your Printer

The age of your inkjet cartridge affects your page yield, and so does the age of your printer. Now, it’s easy to buy 3rd-party cartridges that are compatible with a variety of printers. If you’re using an older, inefficient printer, it will likely be able to print fewer pages than would a newer, more efficient model.

Improving Your Ink’s Lifespan

Now, you’ve learned that an inkjet catridge’s lifespan depends on the kinds of print jobs you do, the model of your printer, and the age of the cartridge itself. In order to get the most out of each cartridge, there are several steps you can take to extend its shelf life.

  • Store your ink properly – manufacturers suggest storing unused cartridges in their original packaging, standing upright. Avoid exposing your ink to extreme hot and cold temperatures, and keep it in a dark, dry place out of direct sunlight.
  • Don’t unseal your ink cartridge before use – a cartridge mayget dried out if left unsealed. If you have unsealed your cartridge from the original packaging by accident, store it upright in a sealed container with a piece of moist cloth at the bottom to discourage evaporation.
  • Print frequently – you might assume that printing less often will help extend your cartridge’s life. However, when printers stand unused for long periods of time, their nozzles can become clogged. For best results, try to print something once a month.
  • Run a printhead cleaning – most quality printers have a built-in printhead cleaning function to prevent clogs. You can also try turning your printer off and on at least once a month, as many will clean after they power up.
  • Preview your printing– before printing, use the “preview” function to see if there are any unnecessary pages in your document.

Make Sure You Never Run Out of Ink When You Need It

Supplies Outlet offers a full line of high quality printer ink cartridges backed by an industry best, lifetime warranty. For inquiries please feel free to chat with any of our experts today.

With Supplies Outlet on speed dial, never again fall for another printing fiasco.


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