What is an ink cartridge?

Ink cartridges are printer cartridges that contain ink and are used by inkjet printers. Your printer needs ink cartridges to print.

What type of printer do ink cartridges work with?

Ink cartridges work with inkjet printers. Inkjet printers usually use more than one printer cartridge to print. Most inkjet printers will use a combination of either two or four cartridges, but more specialized ones like photo printers might require 6 to as many as 12 ink cartridges.

Most common inkjet printers use either:

  • Two cartridges: a black and tri-color cartridge; or
  • Four cartridges: black, cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges

More advanced photo printers like the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 uses 8 ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, yellow, photo cyan, photo magenta, gray, and light gray ink cartridges) to be able to produce images with a wider gamut of colors.

What is inside an ink cartridge?

Ink is the liquid inside the cartridge that creates a print. This ink can be either pigment-based or dye-based, depending on the cartridge series. Dye-based ink is more common and is great for producing vibrant color prints and photos. One drawback is that the ink is not waterproof and can be susceptible to smudging. Pigment-based ink lacks the brightness of dye-based ink but offers a crisper finish and dry time. Appreciated for its ability to print archival quality images, pigment ink can resist fading for up to 200 years.

How does an ink cartridge work?

Inkjet printers spray tiny drops of ink through the nozzles of ink cartridges and onto paper to create a print.

What is the difference between a toner cartridge and an ink cartridge?

Some of the stark differences between ink cartridges and toner cartridges are:

  • Ink is liquid, toner is powder
  • Ink cartridges are used by inkjet printers, laser toner is used by laser printers
  • Toner cartridges print significantly more pages than ink cartridges
  • Images printed with ink are more vibrant than those printed with toner power
  • Since toner is powder, it doesn't dry up and can withstand periods of inactivity. On the other hand, when you leave ink unused inside a cartridge for prolonged periods of time, it tends to dry up.

This nature of ink is the most common culprit for most inkjet printer clogging and printing problems.

If you want to learn more about the differences between inkjet and laser printers, check out this article.

How much ink is in a cartridge?

The amount of ink in a cartridge varies from 8 ml to 127 ml depending on your inkjet printer. Regular HP or Epson inkjet cartridges hold only a small volume of ink while ink tanks for CISS printers hold a higher capacity of ink.

Is it worth buying XL ink cartridges?

It depends. If you print often, yes, high yield cartridges can provide better value. But if you don't print a lot often, standard cartridges should be enough. Ink that sits unused for extended periods of time will eventually dry up and possibly clog the nozzles of your cartridges. For the occasional printer, standard cartridges are more recommended.

Who uses ink cartridges?

Casual home users, small business and photographers.

How many pages does an ink cartridge print?

Look for the page yield! A cartridge's page yield is the estimated number of pages you can print. Page yield is based on 5% page coverage. This means that the quoted page yield is based upon printed pages where only 5% of the page has been imprinted with toner. For example, a short memo has approximately 5% coverage. If you have a cartridge that has a yield of 500 pages, it can print 500 pages of that short memo. If you are printing letters, photos or graphics, your coverage will vary greatly and your page yield will drop significantly.

What is the shelf life of ink cartridges?

Most cartridges include a warranty or "best by" date on their box. Ink cartridges can last up to 2 years in the box, unopened.

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