Do printer cartridges expire?

A well-informed printer user gets the maximum benefit possible from their investment in a printer and printer cartridges.  One of the key pieces of knowledge that are truly beneficial to a printer user are the facts surrounding the expiry of a printer cartridge. 

Yes, manufacturers set a date for expiry for a printer cartridge.  This is done because the printer ink (or toner powder for a laser printer) composition transforms after manufacture until it loses the ideal consistency required for sharp and high-quality prints.  After enough time has elapsed, there is a potential for the ink (and toner powder to a lesser extent) transforming to sludge and damaging the printer components. 

To avoid this happening, manufacturers set a date of expiry for the printer cartridge from the date of manufacturer.  This date is normally imprinted on the side of the printer cartridge.  And is typically one and a half years to two years from the production date. Some manufacturers also embed this date within a chip in the printer cartridge so the printer prompts with a message that the cartridge needs to be replaced when the expiry date is reached. 

Some printers allow printing to continue after this warning message is displayed, but only after a user activates the override command and accepts the terms, conditions, and risk associated with using a printer cartridge in the expired state.  This option is ordinarily only available on lower end printers because higher end precision printers have more expensive components that can get damaged due to expired ink clogging the system. 

An expiry date should not be confused with the warranty date. They are different.  The warranty date which always comes earlier than the expiry date is the maximum date to which the printer cartridge manufacturer certifies the printer will perform optimally and for which the printer cartridge manufacturer will bear liability. Armed with this information set, a knowledgeable printer user plans ahead. They estimate their printing needs and use this information to know how long they might need to store their replacement cartridges and identify the expiry date that should not be exceeded for purchased printer cartridges to achieve optimal use of the printer.    

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