Inkjet Printer Information (6)
Ink and Ink Cartridges

When choosing ink for refilling an inkjet printer the very first question people will ask is if the ink will work and if it will be safe for the printer. Unfortunately the answer most likely will only be answered by using the ink and find out about it later. When a bad ink is chosen and if it results in troubles down the road for the printer it is almost always too late. Damage to the print head is often irreversible. So let's see why some ink doesn't work and why some others do.

Formulation of Ink

As explained previously the formulation of the ink plays a very critical role in determining if it will work or not. Remember ink is super heated instantly by Thermo Bubble-Jet printers when they print. The heat is so high that it can vaporize some of the the water content of the ink. This has the effect as if the printer is printing with an ink that is partially dried up. This can cuase the print head to clog. The boiling point of the ink must be high enough to be not affected by the high heat of the print head. This depends a lot on the ingredients of the ink. This is where a lot of the R&D effort goes into.

So for an ink for Thermo Bubble-Jet printers to really work it must be formulated to have a high boiling point and its ingredients must not be broken down or deteriorated by the heat from the heater in the nozzle.

The ink's viscosity, surface tension and unit weight are also critical for the ink to work. These physical properties affect how the ink will flow through the print head to print. For Thermo Bubble-Jet printers the correct ink flow is critical for cooling the print head too. If the ink flow is too low the print head will overheat. If the ink flow is too high the ink may bleed out from the print head slowly. The bled ink has nowhere to go before dripping off from the print head. Before it drips off it may form a small pool on the print head surface covering up some nozzles. This causes the printer to exhibit a clogging symptom. Clogging can be caused by the ink blocking the nozzles from outside. This happens when ink leaks out of the nozzles. A cleaning cycle sometimes will fix it but the bleeding of ink will continue slowly and the problem will repeat.

The bled ink could be siphoned up by cartridges of other colors above the print head. This is known to be a common cause of ink contamination. This phenomenon is often not easily understood how ink from cartridge A is found in another cartridge B. This happens frequently on Canon printers to people who use incorrectly formulated ink or use compatible ink cartridges that result in the ink flow being too high. Some call it leaking of ink from cartridges although these cartridges do not leak before they are installed.

On the other hand if the ink flow is too low the print head will overheat. The ink in the nozzles will be overheated as well. The heat is supposed to expel the ink bubble out of the nozzles to print. But instead the ink is partially vaprized and partially charred to cause the print head to clog subsequently.

Quality of ink Cartridges
It is quite common that the importance of the quality of ink cartridges is overlooked. Quality of ink cartridges is extrememly critical. There is really no room for error. The internal structure/material of OEM ink cartridges is designed to ensure to supply an apropriate ink flow to the print head. Only OEM ink cartridges have the correct properties for supplying correct ink flows. For this reason OEM ink cartridges are strongly recommended for refilling. People who used 3rd party compatible cartridges often experienced print head clogging troubles.
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