Ink Cartridges and how they work
With so many different printers on the market these days the average
home user has become a little perplexed in regards to which printer
to buy. Unfortunately the modern printers are becoming more cleverly
out their hard earned cash on hugely over inflated print consumables.
I will endeavour to explain some intersting facts about printer
ink cartridges which I hope will help those who are looking to
purchase a printer to make a more imformed decision !
The Basic Ink Cartridges
The basic ink cartridge
consists of simply the plastic moulding also known as the tank.
Inside of the tank are generally 2 compartments. One contains the
actual ink while the other houses the sponge. The sponge absorbs
ink from the main tank via a small opening at the base between
the two tanks. The sponge allows ink to flow through to the opening
at the bottom of the
printer ink cartridge. This is where the ink leaves the cartridge
and flows into the printer and eventually passes out of the printhead.
Before installing the cartridge most have a small piece of plastic
tape (usually at the top) which is removed. This is a breather
vent which allows air to flow in and stops a vacuum effect happenning
as the ink flows from the bottom hole to the printhead. All of
the ink levels etc are detected by the printer itself. This is
done in numerous ways depending on the brand and age of the printer
used. Examples of this type of cartridge include ALL of the Brother
inkjet cartridges and some of the older canon cartridges.
Ink Cartridges with a micro-chip
The micro-chipped printer ink cartridges are the same as
the basic Ink
Cartridges, the difference being is that the ink
level detection and/or cartridge recognition is done by using a
micro-chip mounted on the cartridge itself. This makes an electrical
connection when inserted in the printer and tells the printer several
pieces of imformation depending on the particular cartridge model.
Some of the newer Canon cartridges use what is known as an "Opto-elctrical
chip" This provides a complex "opto technical signal
between the ink tank and the actual printer. This enables the printer
to detect ink levels and also wether the correct cartridge colour
has been inserted as each cartridge colour has its own unique chip.
Epson cartridges are also micro-chipped and operate in a similar
way. One of the unscrupulous tactics which Epson now use is that
they are continuously changing and updating the "Firmware" in
their printers in an attempt to slow down the sale of compatible
ink cartridges. Basically this means that when Epson bring
out new printers even though they may use the same cartridges as
a previous model they change the "Firmware" so that the
printer will NOT detect a compatible cartridge. Usually however
cartridge with a NEW updated Micro-chip hits the market within
a few months and Epson are back working on plans to change the
firmware again in their next printer model.
Ink Cartridges with
The most complex type of printer ink cartridge of all are the ones
with built in printheads. These are typically HP, DELL and some
(eg. PG-40,CL-41 etc) The printhead is the part of the printer
which "spits" the ink onto the paper. These cartridges
contain complex circuitry which detect ink levels, compatibility
a myriad of small resistors inside which heat up and spit the
ink out of hundreds of tiny holes onto the paper. These are also
most expensive of all cartridges to buy. If you are
to avoid these
printers have the printhead built into the printer itself! Why
on earth would anyone buy a printer that uses this technology.
Its kind of like replacing your engine in your car whenever you
decide to do an oil change.
Ink Cartridge Resources
Ink Cartridges - this is a great site which helps answer
many of the basic Inkjet Cartridges questions.
we have a problem - Anger over the new Epson 'Intellidge' micro-chip.
Do Ink Cartridges Cost so much ? - an insight into the way
the major printer manufacturers operate.
Article by Dean Michael.
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