How long do printer cartridges last?

Ink cartridges are anything but cheap. Quite the contrary. This valuable commodity ranks as one of the most expensive liquids in the world. The reason for this is not least the complex composition of the special ink. As an end customer, you notice this at the latest when you have to buy a new cartridge. This makes it all the more tempting to buy several printer cartridges at once when special offers are available. We can only advise against exaggerated hoarding purchases. After all, printer cartridges also have an expiration date that you should not overuse. In the following, we would like to show you how long the expensive cartridges last.

Durability is subject to several factors

Printer cartridges that have already expired for a long time, you should in the best case no longer use. Otherwise, you may run into problems. You can read about the consequences that outdated cartridges can have for your printer here. Accordingly, you should not store printer cartridges for too long. But when do we talk about too long storage? Here, some manufacturers give only cryptic information. Some manufacturers conveniently specify an expiration date for their printer cartridges. Others rely on the specification of a production date. These then often provide information in the operating instructions about the period of use from the production date. But you shouldn’t just stick to the different dates. You can also influence the shelf life of your printer cartridge yourself. The be-all and end-all is correct storage.

Watch the expiration date

Before you buy a large quantity of printer cartridges, you should check their shelf life. The manufacturers do not have an obligation to indicate an expiration date. But you can use other information to help you. For example, the operating instructions often contain information on the recommended service life. As a rule, this is around 24 months from the production date. However, some manufacturers also specify an explicit expiration date. This is the case, for example, when it comes to special ink that becomes unusable faster than others.

Printer cartridges cannot be used forever. 

The reason for the limited useful life is the special chemical composition of printer ink. Here, the most diverse organic and inorganic substances are combined into a complex liquid. You can read about the components that make up printer ink here. Over time, the bond between the ink particles and the binding carrier liquid loosens. In the course of this, clumps form that can cause serious problems in the print head. Not only can the nozzles of the print head become clogged. The entire printhead can also suffer damage.

How you can influence the shelf life

Apart from the expiration date, there are a few things you should keep in mind when storing the printer cartridge. This way you can get the maximum shelf life out of it. The most important thing is to store your printer cartridge at room temperature. In the best case, you should leave it in its original packaging. This effectively prevents evaporation. The printer cartridge feels most comfortable in a dark and dry cupboard. The refrigerator is the best place to store it. If the cartridge is stored well, it can be used long after its expiration date. It is not uncommon for print head cartridges to be used as if they were brand new, even two years after their expiration date. However, if you have a printer with a stand-alone print head, things are a little different. Here, you shouldn’t push the expiration date too far, as the risk of damage is too high.

Toner lasts forever

Those who do not rely on an inkjet printer, but on a laser printer, enjoy some decisive advantages. Among them is the durability of toner. Unlike ink, toner is not a liquid. Accordingly, the formation of lumps is not even possible. Instead, toner is a type of powder that is made up of components such as synthetic resin, pigments, magnetizable metal oxides and various auxiliary materials. This means that toner can still be used as on the first day, even after decades, if it is stored properly.

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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Berlin.

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