We break down five reasons why your printer cartridge may be running out of ink, and what you can do to prevent it...
Page yield determines the approximate number of prints you can get out of a given cartridge. You can find the page yield for your printer cartridges on the side of the cartridge box or the printer manufacturer’s website. Yield can be very different from cartridge to cartridge, which is important to keep in mind when you are shopping for a printer. If you recently purchased a new printer and you are not getting as many prints as your old printer, it is likely because the page yield of your new cartridges is considerably different. Even two printers with a comparable price point can have drastically different page yields. For example, the HP® Officejet 8710 is $119.99* and is compatible with the HP 952 cartridge series. The high yield black cartridge prints 2,000 pages and the color cartridges print 1,600 pages. A similar model, the Canon® PIXMA TS8220, is just a few more dollars at $126.77 and uses the PGI-280/CLI-281 ink cartridges. The high yield PGI-280XL cartridge only prints 400 pages and the CLI-281XL color cartridges print 515 pages. As you can see, page yield has a major effect on your printing efficiency, making it a very important printing factor.
Infrequent Printer Use
A seldom-used printer can quickly dry out your ink cartridges. Running a printer cleaning will often get your cartridges going again, but if you repeatedly leave your cartridges sitting idle in your machine, you will eventually need to get a new set of ink. We recommend removing the ink cartridges from your printer if you don’t plan to use the printer for an extended period of time. Reapply the protective tape and cartridge clip that came with the cartridges and place them in an airtight plastic tub. Keep a damp paper towel in the tub with the cartridge and store it in a cool dark place. Alternatively, you could invest in a laser printer or ink tank printer if you are tired of dealing with dried out printer cartridges. Laser printers use toner cartridges, which won’t dry out like an ink cartridge since the toner is made of a dry, powdery material. Ink tank printers like the Epson® Ecotank or Canon® Megatank rely on a refillable tank system and ink bottles to print, preserving the ink in a sealed tank until it is ready to be used. These are both solid printing options and worth looking into if you are considering a new printer and only print occasionally.
Type of Documents Printed
The type of documents you print can also influence your cartridge life. If you print in mostly black, your black cartridge will run out faster than the color cartridges. However, some printers will pull a bit of ink from the color cartridges when you are printing solely in black, just to keep them primed for future use. Color photos can also deplete your cartridges relatively quickly. Understanding your cartridge’s page yield can give you a better estimate of just how many prints you can expect to get out of a cartridge. Page yield is based on 5% page coverage, or pages in which 5% of page is covered with ink. This is roughly the same as printing out a short email or paragraph. If you are printing something that uses more ink, like a photo or business proposal, your page coverage will be much larger and your page yield will drop considerably. Since everyone has different printing needs, the actual number of prints you get from a cartridge changes from user to user.
Constant Printer Cleanings
If you run a cleaning on your machine regularly, you may notice your cartridge ink levels slowly depleting. This is because the printer uses a small amount of ink every time you clean it, priming the cartridges for your next print in the process. Printer cleanings are a great way to help fix print quality, but if you’ve run a couple of cleanings without any improvement, it may be time to invest in a printer cartridge.
Inefficient Printer Settings
To get the most from your printer cartridges, you will want to make sure you are using the right printer setting for your print job. If you are printing strictly text, print in gray scale, the setting that only draws ink from your black printer cartridge. If you are printing out less important documents like a quick email or directions, print in draft mode, an economical printer setting that uses less ink to print out documents. For optimal color photos, switch your printer to the photo setting. Additional settings may be available depending on what printer you own.