An Interesting Peek Inside an Inkjet Cartridge

An Interesting Peek Inside an Inkjet Cartridge

Gregory Han
May 11, 2012

Besides public restroom toilet paper, is there anything that disappears as quickly, at the most inopportune times, than inkjet printer ink? I don't know how many times I've had the printer sputter to Jackson Pollock-style output due to an unexpected drain in the cartridge reservoirs when I most need the rare paper printout. Then it's off to the home office supply store to pay Beluga caviar-like prices for what amounts to a chipmunk's mouthful of colored water...

UK blog, HP Ink Cartridges, a site dedicated to reporting "about getting less ink for your money in your ink cartridge" took a peek inside one of those mini-money blackholes packaged in plastic, comparing a HP 350 ink cartridge from 2010 to a same model offering now in 2012. What he found inside is a drastic change with the hydrophobic sponge inside.

"I then removed the top of the cartridge with a handsaw and as you can see from the picture below the hydrophobic sponge fills the cartridge totally, just as I would have expected for the best part of fifteen quid, I then took another HP 350, the same cartridge but this time the manufacturers date was 2012 on the cartridge, I removed the top in the same way as before and to be totally honest I could not believe what I was looking at, the hydrophobic sponge inside the 2012 cartridge is only half the size!!"

But hold on, corporate conspiracy theorists. As much as I feel like inkjet cartridges are a horribly overpriced supply, many of the commenters point out valid counter-arguments negating concern, like this one made by "Tommy":

What people fail to understand about printer catridges [sic] is that they aren't selling you the "ink". They are selling you the number of "prints". The ink cartridges for older HP printers (2003-2005) contained more ink but cost more. The newer printer cartidges [sic] (2005-current) contain less ink but usually cost less. Now, even if the cartridges contain the same amount on ink, the newer, smaller cartridges will produce as much as, or often times, up to 50% more printed pages.

The biggest reason, in my opinion, is that printers are being designed to utilize ink much more effeficiently [sic] and effectively. If you ever get a chance to compare a current printer, and a printer from pre 2005 and print the exact same picture or txt document, use the same paper, and you will see that older printer lays down significantly more ink on the paper than the newer ones."

Is this just a case where HP has maximized capacity and reduced material use effectively, or is there something worth investigating here in regards to consumer interest? Was the cartridge chamber designed to have one smaller ink compartment, where the sponge and plastic elements replace usable ink capacity? And does it even matter if the pages printed cartridge remains the same as before?

(Images: HP Ink Cartridges)

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