PDA

View Full Version : Can I *really* damage my printer by printing on low ink?


FlyingRamenMonster
04-11-2009, 06:48 AM
After struggling for several years with a 1990s-vintage inkjet (2 pages a minute! Dots the size of a house!) I finally got myself a nice Pixma, and all was well until the ink started running low. When the magenta ink "ran out" I listened to my printer and replaced my cartridge like a sucker. When the yellow ink ran out I was in the middle of printing and decided to finish the job before replacing it. Laziness ensued, and now I estimate I've printed 20+ colour pages with no sign that the yellow is in need of replacing, so clearly the ink level indicator is a lie. But now the cyan has also starting to run dry and my printer is not only bugging me to replace both cartridges, but warning me I could damage my printer if I didn't. Printer damage? I thought. How? I mean, I don't really have much reason to trust the thing. On the other hand, it wasn't cheap and it's quite a nice piece of equipment, bald-faced lies notwithstanding, so I'd rather not wreck it.

Khadaji
04-11-2009, 08:22 AM
I'm not an expert, but I've run my printer dry more than once. It doesn't appear to be damaged in any way. Also, with the price of printers and ink, you can almost go and get a new one when the ink runs out.

sailor
04-11-2009, 10:14 AM
I have been told that letting it run dry will clog the nozzles and the explanation makes sense. I have had many printer heads with clogged nozzles.

Tamex
04-11-2009, 12:34 PM
I have a Pixma as well, and I've wondered the same thing. I let the black run pretty dry this last time (to where it actually did affect print quality) and when I replaced it, no harm seems to have been done.

HongKongFooey
04-11-2009, 12:49 PM
In industrial printers the nozzles definitely clog when run with the ink too low. You can get away with it at times depending on the various factors such as the quality of the ink but eventually you will have problems if you keep doing it. I'm not knowledgeable on the printers that a typical home user has but they seem to work in much the same way, the ink is different though.

FORTRAN forever
04-11-2009, 01:09 PM
You didn't mention which model PIXMA you're using, so I don't know if my response is relevant, but....

I use a Canon PIXMA iP3000 inkjet printer at home (which cost me about $100 a couple of years ago). It warns me when an ink cartridge is low, and stops printing (with a pop-up box saying why) when a cartridge runs out. I don't believe I can get it to continue printing at that point without popping in a new cartridge. I have run it to that point a couple of times; if I then put in a new cartridge at that point it calmly resumes printing. I have never had a problem with it.

Of course, given the above I don't really know if the ink cartridge has actually run out when the printer says it has or if the cartridge has simply gotten low enough that the printer decides to get belligerent about it.

Of course, given that a new print cartridge costs about one-fourth of an entirely new printer of that model, I'm not all that concerned about the consequences.

FlyingRamenMonster
04-11-2009, 01:17 PM
I've got an MP610. I bought it partly because of the cheap cartridges, which were $x. Some months later, when I actually needed to replace said cartridges, they suddenly cost $2x. Whuh. I managed to find a single online store that sold them for the old price but who knows how long that'll last. When the ink runs out it pops up a box telling me to replace the cartridge, but I can override it by pressing the ok button on the printer itself.

The prospect of clogged nozzles is troubling, since on this printer the nozzles are on the printer rather than the cartridges. Guess I'll replace that yellow. The blue can probably still last a while, though.

dracoi
04-11-2009, 04:33 PM
Of course, given the above I don't really know if the ink cartridge has actually run out when the printer says it has or if the cartridge has simply gotten low enough that the printer decides to get belligerent about it.

For virtually all printers, it's a matter of the printer deciding to get belligerent; there is still some ink in there and you can usually keep going without ill effects. If you're the printer company, you say that the replacement warning happens at an ink level at which quality might begin to degrade. (It's like an expiration date on prescription meds - it's not going to turn poisonous the very next day, but you can't be confident that it's safe/effective anymore). If you're the consumer, you tend to suspect that it's motivated by the printer company wanting to get another $40 out of you that much sooner.

postcards
04-11-2009, 07:38 PM
I use the Canon i9900 which uses the BCI-6 carts. This is a two part cartridge, two-thirds of which is saturated cotton padding, the other third liquid ink. The printer determines the level of ink by shining a tiny light into the carts; if the light shines through you get a 'low ink' warning.

Usually I can push the 'resume' button on the printer and finish my work. Since 99% of my printing is high-resolution photographs, I am both concerned about quality and annoyed at the cost.

What I have taken to doing is squeezing my cartridges for more ink; i.e., I remove the cartridge and hold it with the bottom facing up, cover the large hole under the cotton padding section with my thumb, then with a pair of pliers squeeze the center of the padded part with the pliers. This causes liquid ink to transfer from the padded section to the liquid section.

With this move I am able to extend the life of my ink cartridges by about 25%. Your mileage may vary, and I don't recommend doing this to any cartridge more than once.

You may also want to remove the print head and clean that with a damp paper towel now and then.

x-ray vision
04-11-2009, 07:59 PM
At least one expert says "yes."

There are valid reasons for not draining an ink cartridge completely, printing experts say. "Many inks, if they run dry, can cause significant damage to the printer," says Brian Hilton, a senior staff engineer at the Rochester Institute of Technology who holds 29 inkjet patents. "You always want to leave a buffer in the tank so that the printer never runs dry. There should always be a factor of safety included."
http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/266942/how_much_ink_left_dead_cartridge?fp=4&fpid=776389

SeanArenas
04-11-2009, 08:05 PM
My printer is giving me a warning every time I turn it on about an expired ink cartridge. It says they won't be held liable for damages that occur to the printer due to printing on an expired ink cartridge!

njtt
04-11-2009, 10:29 PM
I was under the impression that, at least in most home inkjets, the nozzles are actually part of the cartridge (isn't that how they try to justify the outrageous price charged for a couple of cents worth of ink?), so even if it does get damaged, when you put in a new cartridge you get a new nozzle anyway.

Be that as it may, the printer I currently use (Epson Stylus Color 670) is old but still going strong, and I routinely ignore its out of ink warnings and carry on (usually for quite some time) until I start getting blank or faint areas within documents. Then I refill the relevant cartridge from a refill kit I bought online, run two or three head cleaning sessions, and carry right on. Clearly the nozzles, even if they are on the cartridges and meant to be disposable, have not been damaged by running it dry.

I don't imagine you can keep refilling cartridges indefinitely (if only because the sponge inside is getting damaged by the refill syringe's needle), and I do replace them every so often, but they can certainly survive 3 or 4 rounds of running dry and refilling without trouble. Refilling is a bit of a hassle, but waaaay cheaper than replacing cartridges, even if, like me, you don't use manufacturer's original cartridges but the generic knock-offs you can get online for half the price.

uniomni
06-01-2013, 08:31 PM
As many have said, the printer won't be damaged if run dry. In fact, the CANON PIXMA (and I assume many other printers) have the option of disabling the ink monitor. I just hold down the STOP button (the one with a red triangle) for 6 to 7 seconds. Then the printer will happily continue printing of the smell of an oily rag. I find I get much more out of the cartridges that way.

See e.g. http://www.inkbank.com.au/webcontent28.htm for more details.

uniomni
06-01-2013, 08:37 PM
At least one expert says "yes."


http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/266942/how_much_ink_left_dead_cartridge?fp=4&fpid=776389

That is not what I read from the article. In fact the conclusion says:

Page yields aside, we have yet to hear a satisfactory and persuasive explanation from a vendor as to why so many printer cartridges leave so much ink behind. Even if the waste amount is only a few milliliters, that unused liquid could have printed a lot of pages.


The real reason, I think, comes down to the desire to sell more cartridges.

uniomni
06-01-2013, 08:39 PM
For virtually all printers, it's a matter of the printer deciding to get belligerent; there is still some ink in there and you can usually keep going without ill effects. If you're the printer company, you say that the replacement warning happens at an ink level at which quality might begin to degrade. (It's like an expiration date on prescription meds - it's not going to turn poisonous the very next day, but you can't be confident that it's safe/effective anymore). If you're the consumer, you tend to suspect that it's motivated by the printer company wanting to get another $40 out of you that much sooner.

Indeed :)

x-ray vision
06-02-2013, 10:41 AM
That is not what I read from the article.
Then look again. I quoted exactly what I claimed was in the article.

thicksantorum
06-02-2013, 08:48 PM
I stopped bothering with color ink when I realized that the local print-shop is actually cheaper than buying replacement cartridges.

CookingWithGas
06-03-2013, 11:34 AM
The real reason, I think, comes down to the desire to sell more cartridges.I doubt the rampant conspiracy theories about printer companies. After all, wouldn't it be easier to just put less ink in the cartridge in the first place? It's not like you buy ink by volume, like a gallon of gas.