How to Test Printer Ink

When your business printer’s ink runs out, document flow can come to a halt. Even in offices with multiple printers, productivity can be hampered if a printer runs out of ink, as time is required to reroute prints as well as physically pick them up. Periodic testing of your printer’s ink can alert you when it’s time to replace the cartridge, and there are several methods for doing so.

Test Page
Printing a test page is one of the best ways to directly test the ink. Test page printing can be accessed from the computer’s “Control Panel” menu, where the “Printer and Fax” menu provides the option to print a test page. You may also be able to print a test page from the printer’s included software, depending on the printer and accompanying manufacturer software. The test page can be used to evaluate the ink; if it is thin or streaked, it may be time to replace the ink, or there may be a clog in the nozzle of the printer head.

Alternative Test Page
If the standard test page isn’t suitable for your testing needs, or if you want to test specific ink colours, you can use a variety of alternative test pages to assess ink levels or print quality. Finding an alternative test online is one of the simplest methods. Choose with caution, however: Some tests may use more ink than others, resulting in waste greater than the diagnostic value of the test. You can also test the ink levels by printing small document files or images from your office computers.

Manufacturer Software Test
You may be able to check ink levels without printing a test page using the manufacturer’s software. While not all software supports the feature, some software, such as HP’s “Solution Center,” provides an on-screen visual representation of current printer ink levels. Please keep in mind that this visualisation is only an estimate and may differ slightly from actual ink levels. However, it can provide a rough estimate of how much ink you have. Printing a test page, which simply indicates whether you have enough ink to print the test page at that time, may be more useful.

Care Considerations
Not all printing errors are caused by a lack of ink. Streaks in a print may be the result of a clogged printing head, which occurs when the printer is left unused for an extended period of time or with an empty cartridge installed. Print faults can also occur as a result of print head damage, which can occur if the machine is used with an empty cartridge installed. Never let the cartridge run completely dry to extend the life of your printer heads.Replace it instead when prints begin to show unacceptable fading or quality loss. If the printer will not be used for a while, remove the printer head and store it in a Ziploc bag with a few drops of water, as directed by the manufacturer. The water keeps the air in the bag moist, which keeps the printer head from drying out and developing clogs or other faults.

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