How Does Expired Printer Ink Affect Color?


When it comes to expired products in your home, you wouldn’t drink expired milk or trust your health to expired medications. You also don’t want to impact the quality of your printed products by using expired printer ink. Printer ink cartridges have expiration dates on them to give consumers an idea of the time frame of use. An expired ink cartridge does not always mean the cartridge is empty. The cartridge might not be properly sealed, and the ink is exposed to air. The printer might not be used that often so the ink could have dried out. If the cartridge is clogged, the color capabilities are severely limited because the ink will not flow properly from the cartridge through the nozzles.

Expired Ink Cartridges and Your Projects

  • Impact on Color Accuracy – This is certainly the easiest (and most visible) way to tell if your ink is expired. The lack of color accuracy is quite evident on particular print projects. Expired ink cartridges do not produce vibrant colors on fine art prints, proofs, and inkjet prints when the ink has “gone bad”. 
  • Damage to the Printer – Expired print ink can do more than create a less than desired final product. The printer can suffer expensive damage like clogged printer heads and even sludge and mold inside the printer. All of these issues can lead to replacing the printer heads or even the printer itself. Printer damage can lead to a backlog of projects and less profits thanks to the lost projects and printer repair costs. 
  • Pay Attention to the Printer – Most printers will let you know when it is time to replace your printer ink cartridges. They are able to scan the cartridges and let you know when they will expire. When you go to replace, take that as an opportunity to clean the printhead to ensure the nozzles are able to deliver the ink properly. 

Get the Most From Your Printer Ink Cartridges

There are storage steps you can take to extend the life of your printer ink, too. If you won’t be printing for an extended period of time, take the ink out of the printer. Once you remove the ink cartridge, store the ink in a sealed bag and, if you saved it, the bag that came with the original packaging. Store your printer ink cartridges in a location with a relatively stable temperature. If your storage place has extreme heat or cold temperatures, it will negatively impact the quality of the ink. You can also remove any dried ink on the printhead by taking a warm, damp paper towel and blot the cartridge (with the printhead facing down onto the paper towel). Then, take a dry paper towel and hold the cartridge down for a minute (or so) in order to wick out any dry ink clogging the head. 

Contact us today to restock your printer ink cartridges and avoid issues that arise from expired ink.

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