The structure of a printer cartridge

Cartridges for inkjet printers have a plastic casing with a chip. They serve as a container for the ink. They are available with or without a print head. What happens inside and how the printer cartridge works is hidden from the user. In this article you will learn more about the structure of printer cartridges.

You will find out what the chip is for and how the ink gets onto the paper. In addition, there are facts worth knowing about recycled and compatible printer cartridges that are easy on the wallet and the environment.

What parts does an ink cartridge consist of?

The structure of printer cartridges varies between manufacturers. Besides functional reasons, this brings a decisive advantage for the supplier. Through the sophisticated construction of printer cartridges, the producers try to prevent replication. In addition, they make refilling more difficult. Resourceful third-party suppliers quickly find out the ins and outs of the technology. They quickly have a compatible solution ready.

What they all have in common is the plastic casing, which is essential for the construction of printer cartridges. Its shape and composition are perfectly suited to the inkjet printer in question.

The decisive factor is whether the product comes with or without a print head. Variants that integrate the printhead are widespread. These models can be found at Lexmark or HP. Here, the ink is located directly in the housing. The printer cartridges serve purely as fluid containers.

To prevent the ink from escaping, there is a vacuum inside. Optionally, there are ink tanks without a print head from Canon, Epson or Brother. With these, the ink reaches the print head of the inkjet printer via one or more sponges.

Many printer cartridges of newer models have a labyrinth of passages and chambers inside. Air outlet and inlet holes connect these with each other. This creates a complex pressure equalisation system. The interplay of positive and negative pressure prevents the ink from leaking.

Another component in the construction of printer cartridges is the chip on the outside. It contains information about the filling level. The cartridges contain the liquid ink for use in an inkjet printer. In contrast, toner cartridges work exclusively with colour powder.

What requirements does the printer ink meet?

The ink in the printer cartridge is different from conventional ink you use in a fountain pen, for example. The dyes do not dry out in the container or on the print head. In the best case, they bond quickly with the paper. Depending on the quality of the print cartridge, they are smudge-proof.

Manufacturers match the ink cartridges with the ink they contain to the printer nozzles of the machine. This ensures optimal printing results. The basic components are the same. The ink contains 2.5 to five percent dyes or pigments. The largest proportion is water. Glycerine, ethylene glycols or polyethylene glycols prevent the ink from drying out.

The additives differ depending on the supplier. Acetylene glycols or sodium lauryl sulphate increase the surface tension. Preventol and Proxel GXL prevent infestation by fungi and bacteria. Corrosion inhibitors reduce wear on metal parts that are part of the construction of printer cartridges.

The colours available are magenta, yellow, cyan and black. These are either together in one cartridge (compact cartridge) or in separate printer cartridges (single-ink cartridges).

How does a printer cartridge work?

Besides the design of printer cartridges, smooth functioning is essential. In the printer there is a guide rod on which the print head rests. It is driven by toothed belts. The movement of the rod ensures that ink is applied to the paper in the appropriate places. During printing, the print head moves over the guide rod. Line by line, finished texts, images or graphics are produced in a flash.

The print head shoots the ink onto the paper via a multitude of tiny nozzles to assemble a printed image. Each drop is the size of a pico-litre. This is not visible to the human eye. The design parts screen fine gradations from the four basic colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Brand new printers with HP PageWide technology have a print head with numerous nozzles that covers the entire width of the page. There is no need to move from left to right. This creates print jobs at a rapid pace.

How does the ink get into the printhead?

The nozzles in the print head are controlled electronically. This enables the droplets to be applied quickly and in a controlled manner. In printer cartridges without their own print head, the highly absorbent, durable sponge prevents the ink from leaking. Here, the ink reaches the print head via lines.

In models with a print head, there is a direct connection to the printing fluid. Due to the negative pressure, the ink does not leak out unintentionally.

What can happen to a printer cartridge?

Most ink cartridges are pure ink tanks. The construction of these printer cartridges means that they have no wearing parts. A common cause of problems is the print head drying out. This happens when you use the printer too seldom.

In many cases, cleaning the print head will save clogged nozzles. It is recommended to use the printer once a week. This prevents the cartridges from drying out.

Another cause is blocked ventilation. Dust, packaging residues or a protective film block the air holes, which prevents pressure equalisation. A negative pressure builds up, interrupting the pumping action of the cartridges.

What is the chip on a print cartridge for and how does it work?

The chip on the printer cartridges tells the machine their fill level, colour, cartridge type and the number of pages to be printed. It prevents the inkjet printer from trying to print with an empty cartridge. In the worst case, an empty cartridge will damage the print heads.

In addition, manufacturers use the component to make it more difficult to use compatible printer cartridges. The computer's software uses the chip to register that there is a foreign printer cartridge in the system. It displays an error message on the desktop.

Why should empty printer cartridges be sent back to the manufacturer?

It is advisable not to throw empty printer cartridges into the household waste, but to recycle them. By doing so, you are returning them to the materials cycle and giving the product another life. By returning the ink cartridges to the manufacturer, you help to conserve resources.

A free recycling service arranges the professional reprocessing of empty inkjet cartridges at no additional cost. In the best case, a closed material cycle is created that enables the direct reuse of the printer cartridges.

Ink cartridges with integrated print heads are particularly popular with manufacturers. By recycling them, they make a valuable contribution to protecting the environment. Reuse saves resources such as petroleum, plastic and aluminium that manufacturers need for new production. At the same time, you reduce the amount of CO2 generated during production. This reduces your ecological footprint.

Order printer cartridges online

At Prindo you will find a wide range of printer cartridges from original accessories to recycled cartridges as rebuilt or refill variants. Use the search mask to get an overview of the available products suitable for your printer model. Low-priced multipacks and compatible printer cartridges reduce your printer costs.