Printer Life Expectancy

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, printers are not being engineered or expected to last as long as older models.

HP printers that are 10 years old and older are still being used today.  These robust and well-engineered printers were built to last, using brass gears and steel parts.   This is also partially why printers used to cost so much and last so long.

By 2006, printers started to take on an estimated 4-year life cycle for new machines released at this time.

By 2010, it is estimated that new inkjet printers you can buy off the shelf will likely have a shorter life span (3 – 4 years) due to a few factors.

While most HP inkjet printers use integrated printhead cartridges (printhead is built into the ink cartridge), there are some models that have the printhead built into the machine (fixed printheads).

The DPI (dots per inch) of a modern inkjet printer are very small, in some cases 1 pico liter droplets are being produced.  Ten years 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 on fixed printhead printer models (like the office jet pro series for example).

To be fair, many printheads have multiple nozzle sizes that each produce different size droplets depending on what is being printed.  Also, there are more nozzles per printhead in comparison to older units, so perhaps the increased complexity and smaller component size may also contribute to the premature demise of machines.

Another culprit may be due to the materials used in new printers.  Inkjet printers from 10 years ago, weigh much more compared to the new models.  The foot print of the printer has decreased significantly but that still does not explain why a new Deskjet printer weighs less than 10lbs but the old Deskjet weighs closer to 30lbs.

The “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. 

Could this be just another case of designed obsolescence?

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