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Everything you need to know about ink expiration and warranty dates

Everything you need to know about ink cartridge expiration dates and warranties
(Image credit: Getty)

If you need to buy some ink for your printer, there are a few things to consider, especially if you're thinking of buying in bulk. In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about ink cartridge expiry and warranty dates. 

If you're thinking of stocking up on ink, check out our guide to online discount ink cartridges stores, or take a look at the best compact printers

How long do printer ink cartridges last for?

Every ink cartridge has a toner or shelf life. Typically, it is one and a half to two years from the date of purchase. The product's manufacturer and how you store your cartridges can also affect the toner's lifespan. Ink expiration dates are built-in, established dates, after which ink cartridges might no longer work properly. If there is still ink left in the cartridge on that date, it will cause your printer to shut down. The expiration date is based on the fact that the ink's composition transforms over time. Air can work its way inside the cartridge and dissolve the ink carrier. As a result, the ink becomes sludge rather than liquid. That sludge can clog up your printer s ink-delivery system and the ink cartridge's print head. The ink expiration date is designed to keep this from occurring.

What is a print head? 

Most ink cartridges sold at discount ink cartridges stores are self-contained, meaning that they have ink and a print head. The print head is the chip that puts the ink on the paper. Print heads can be part of a printer or an ink cartridge. A print head for home use or small-business printers is not expensive. On the other hand, the print heads for office and professional printers are of higher quality in order to generate higher-quality images. This makes them more expensive to replace. In some cases, the print head is separate and the ink cartridge serves as a reservoir.

Why is an ink cartridge warranty date important?

Many manufacturers also include a warranty date with their ink cartridges. This means that they will not guarantee their ink beyond that date. It is important not to confuse the warranty date with the product's expiration date. Generally, the expiration date is between one and two years after the established warranty date. In some cases, an expiration message will appear on your printer 18 to 30 months after you install a new ink cartridge.

There are ink cartridges that allow you to override this message. Instructions for doing so might appear on your printer's screen, or you can find them in your printer's user manual. The override option is not usually available for high-end printer models.

It is important to note that expiration dates are not exact. In fact, many ink cartridges can function perfectly well long past their expiration date.

Knowing about expiration and warranty dates when buying ink cartridges, whether you buy single cartridges or buy cartridges in bulk quantities, will help you make an informed decision and keep your printer functioning well for years to come.