About Lexmark Printer Cartridges

Lexmark International is one of the better known printer manufacturers, especially for affordable home computers. The company is a spin off from IBM and it went public in 1995. Their printers and inkjet print cartridges generally receive positive reviews.

Before Inkjet Printers

In the 1980s most computers used printers called dot matrix printers. These types of printers used replacement ink ribbons and created images and text through pin contact to paper. The process was slow and tended to provide a less clear picture so companies started researching ways to provide a better way to transfer ink to paper. By the early 1990s inkjet printers were widely popular and today they're a standard printer in most homes across North America.

What Are Inkjet Printers?

Inkjet printers create digital images by propelling different-sized droplets of ink to paper. There are two main technologies for inkjet printers: continuous (CIJ) and drop-on-demand (DOD). Lexmark manufactures mostly DOD printers.

Continuous ink printers tend to be used commercially and are used to mark and code products and packages. The process involves the creation of a continuous stream of ink droplets with a high pressure pump that moves the liquid ink from a reservoir through a microscopic nozzle. The droplets of ink then get an electrostatic charge which will vary depending on the size and drop deflection required. With continuous ink jet, the ink nozzle rarely clogs and the ink dries very quickly even with heavy applications.

Most consumer printers, including Lexmark, are drop-on-demand. They're made by photolithography which means a pulse of current is passed through the heating element which ejects a droplet of ink. The heating element causes the droplet of ink to vaporize and form a bubble. Pressure increases in the bubble until the bubble of ink is propelled forward onto the piece of paper.

Lexmark printer cartridges contain water-based (aqueous) ink. The ink needs to be water based for a vapor bubble to be created. The downside is that anything printed by a Lexmark inkjet printer, or any other inkjet printer, isn't waterproof. The ink will blur, smear or smudge if exposed to moisture.

The Connection to Lexmark

Lexmark's research into the advancement of inkjet printers and inkjet printer cartridge technology has made it easier for small businesses and home offices to afford printers that create high quality images and texts. Lexmark was a pioneer in creating the most affordable types of printers and was the first company to manufacture and sell an inkjet printer for under $100 while still providing reasonable quality for that price. The company cuts costs by creating their own ink cartridge technology and developing their own ink and they pass these savings on to the consumer.

Types of Cartridges and Features

There are three basic types of inkjet cartridges that Lexmark produces. There's black for basic text printing and color for graphics. The company has also manufactured a line of photo inkjet specifically created to make clear printing of high resolution images and photographs. Lexmark also has a line of laser printers and manufacturers laser cartridges specifically for their line of laser printers. Lexmark is also one of the few companies that still manufacturers dot matrix printers (although in low quantities) and they also manufacturer their own line of printer cartridges for the matrix printers.

With Lexmark's inkjet printers, it's the cartridge, and not the printer, that does the actual printing. Depending on the line of printer and quality of the cartridge, the cartridge can be capable of printing extremely fine detail. It is designed with a high resolution print head that has a silicon chip and a polymer nozzle plate attached. The print head holds up to 480 print nozzles on a color ink cartridge and up to 640 print nozzles on the black ink cartridge. The higher the number of nozzles the finer detail the cartridge will be capable of printing. Lexmark inkjet cartridges make it possible to print extremely clear photo reproductions and sharp text. Better quality prints can be achieved using better quality paper.