The Decline of Inkjet Printer Life Expectancy

The average life of inkjet printers has been gradually declining over time. Although current print quality and retail price for new machines have never been better, don’t get your heart set on growing old with your new printer.

Everyday, we receive orders from customers, new and old, ordering cartridges for their “vintage” HP Deskjet or Officejet printers from the early 1990’s. There are a good number of people ordering for their 10-year-old Epson and Canon printers too, but I am really starting to see a dropoff in life cycle of printers made in the last 3 or 4 years.

I was digging around trying to find any official written estimation on printer life but was largely fruitless in my efforts. One single reliable estimation I found from 2006, estimated a 4-year life cycle for a new HP inkjet printer at that time.

The average new inkjet printer you can buy off the shelf will likely have a shorter life span due to a few factors�in my estimation.

First, the DPI (dots per inch) of a modern inkjet printer are pretty small, in some cases 1 pico liter droplets are being produced. Not long ago, pico liter drops of ink were in double digits (12 – 16). Therefore, a set of nozzles on a new printer will have to fire more than 10 x as often to attain the same coverage. Increased use per nozzle, coupled with the tighter tolerances may be contributing to a shorter life of the printhead; usually the first part to fail on a printer.

To be fair, many printheads have multiple nozzle sizes that each produce different size droplet depending on what is being printed. Also, there are more nozzles per printhead in comparison to older units, so maybe the increased usage per nozzle is not a profound as I may lead on.

Another culprit may be due to the materials used in new printers. Inkjet printers from 10 years ago, weigh twice as much compared to the new ones. True, the footprint of the printer has decreased significantly, but that still does not explain why my new Epson NX105 weighs less than 10 lbs but the Epson Stylus 1520 right next to it is closer to 30 lbs.

I was shaking my head while at Target last week, as I walked down the isle, picking up each printer- they all felt hollow!

The dreaded “expected printer life cycle has been reached” error message may also play into the shorter printer life that has been observed with contemporary machines.

Many printers are programmed to produce a service needed message of some sort, after a set number of pages have been printed. At this point, you must know a secret code to reset the counter in your printer, replace the printer or take it in to a service center to be repaired. Most people elect to discard the printer at this point. Some will search on the Internet and then perform a reset coding procedure to get past the error message and a small number of people will get their printer repaired.

Canon printers traditionally have the lowest statistical data on repairs, but that too may be changing with their transition into new cartridges with Microchip interface. Many old HP printers are still performing today as well as they did 15 years ago. Epson printers from 10 years ago are still chugging right along.

Canon printers traditionally have the lowest statistical data on repairs, but that too may be changing with their transition into new cartridges with Microchip interface. Many old HP printers are still performing today as well as they did 15 years ago. Epson printers from 10 years ago are still chugging right along.

However, new printers from every manufacturer today, for whatever reason, don’t seam to last as they have in the past. Perhaps this is just another case of “designed obsolescence”?

If you own an old printer, fight the urge to “upgrade” to something new unless you have to. If you own an old printer that uses high volume cartridges, you may want to consider getting your printer repaired if it breaks down.

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