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How Printers Determine Ink Cartridge Level?

Having a printer is certainly beneficial in terms of saving the time and effort it takes to get things printed outside. However, one major flip side of printers is that printer ink is quite costly. This is especially true for inkjet printers that come with separate ink cartridges. Inkjet printers are notorious for showing the ‘ink cartridge low’ notification on your computer. Most inkjet printer users will agree with this phenomenon.

How inkjet printers determine cartridge ink level?

So how do printers calculate how much ink is left in the cartridge? Well, that’s another complexity of printers that many of us are not aware of. The mechanism used to determine ink level is usually different for every printer manufacturer. For example, Epson cartridges come with an integrated circuit chip that constantly monitors the amount of ink flowing out. It also remembers the time when a new cartridge was installed. Using this data and with the use of pre-programmed algorithms, Epson printers are able to determine the ink level of the cartridge. This information is then displayed on your computer screen.

Canon printers use a different technique, wherein an optical sensor is used to determine ink level of the cartridge. A beam of light passes inside the cartridge through a prism, which is then detected by an optical sensor. Based on the level of light refraction, the printer is able to determine the ink level of the cartridge.

Based on approximations

Calculating cartridge ink level may have scientific basis, but it is not perfect. There are a lot of approximations used by inkjet printers when calculating cartridge ink level. Moreover, there are also claims that printers purposefully show the ink cartridge level as low or empty to force you to buy a new one. It is generally believed that cheaper the printer the higher will be its printing cost. The logic is that printer manufacturing companies actually sell affordable printers at a loss and make profits through ink cartridge refills.

In a recent study, it was found that almost 60 percent of the ink in a cartridge is never utilized and is thrown away. This appears to be in line with customer experiences, wherein ink cartridges often go dry a lot earlier than expected. It’s almost impossible to get anywhere close to the number of prints mentioned on the ink cartridge.

Before buying a printer, always consider the cost of ink cartridge refills. Read customer reviews to better understand the actual number of prints possible with an ink cartridge. Don’t go with what’s written on the packaging. It’s just an approximation and unlikely to come true in real life conditions.

About Satya Singh

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