Sure, I know what you’re thinking: “Of course I don’t want my ink to run dry. It’s horrendously inconvenient!”
That’s very true. But did you know that dry ink can also harm your printer? Find out what happens when ink runs dry and how to avoid ruining your machine.
Dry Is Not the Same as Empty
To be clear, there is a difference between ink drying out and ink running out. If you run out of ink, it means that your ink cartridge is totally empty. Your printer probably won’t even let you print anything when this happens, but if it does, you’ll just get reams of blank (or worse, faded and incomprehensible) paper shuffling out into the tray.
If your ink dries out, it means that the liquid ink inside the cartridge is, well, dry. Or rather, the ink closest to the print head will dry out. The printer might not realize that all is not well with the ink and will therefore fail to warn you, and attempting to print with dry ink can cause some damage.
Why Ink Dries Out
So why does this happen in the first place? In a word: evaporation. You might think that the ink is safe and snug inside its cartridge, but the fact is that it is still exposed to air. The pores through which the ink exits the cartridge may be tiny, but that makes no difference. The liquid will slowly evaporate, leaving behind solids that you simply do not want to contend with.
How to Stop Your Ink From Drying
The best way to avoid having your ink dry out is to simply use your printer on a semi-regular basis. You don’t need to print pages and pages every day, but printing a page or two every couple of weeks is a good idea in order to clear away the drying ink and bring fresh, totally liquid ink down into the pores.
Much like your car battery will go kaput if you don’t start up the engine for weeks or months, your ink cartridges need to be used in order to remain useful. It may seem silly or downright impractical to print things that you don’t need, but you’ll end up spending more money in the long run if you are constantly having to replace your ink or repair your print head.
Be sure to occasionally print something in color if you have color inks—each individual ink cartridge is at risk of drying out. And if you’re not sure what to print that could be of any use to you, try printing some coupons or perhaps a crossword puzzle!