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A Look at the Common Types of Ink Jet Print Head Designs

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Inside your ink jet printer, a print head is the mechanism that applies the ink on to the paper, and is therefore an important part of the printer. There are 2 distinct designs of printer head- the fixed-head design and the disposable head design. Each of course has good points and bad points. Here we will highlight the main features and present as much information as possible so as to give you the choice when you come to buying your next inkjet printer.

Fixed Head Printer Design: The fixed head design involves the print head that is built in to the inkjet. The reasons for having a built in print head is that the print head can last for the lifetime of the printer, and when the ink runs out, the cost of the replacement is less because only the ink tank needs replaced. The downside of this design is that if the print head is damaged or becomes blocked- the entire printer is useless and will then need replaced. Fixed print heads are available in Epson, Canon, Brother, and a few HP printer models.

Disposable Head Design: The disposable print head design means that the print head forms part of the ink cartridge, which is replaced each time ink runs out. This clearly increases the cost of the ink jet cartridge and also makes it more difficult to manufacture a high quality print head cheaply, but it does mean that any issues with the print head mean that it can be replaced for the price of a new ink cartridge. HP uses this design in the majority of printer models, along with Lexmark, Dell, and some early Canon models.

As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to both designs, and interestingly an intermediate design methodology does exist the comprises of disposable ink tank AND a disposable head (replaced every tenth ink tank or so) This type of design is used in most high volume Hewlett Packard inkjet printers.

Which ever type of print head design you prefer it is worth bearing in mind the cost of running that printer over its lifetime will vary quite considerably depending on your choice of print head design, so choose carefully.
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