Most people probably never think much about the ink cartridges they use in their inkjet printers, but Hewlett Packard employs a small army of specialist ink-scientists who think about little else. The company this month announced the release of its second generation of ink cartridges featuring a range of improvements both to the cartridges and the inks to improve printer performance and the quality and longevity of colour prints. The new cartridges use improved print heads with a higher number of nozzles, allowing them to cover a greater page area in one pass and thereby increasing the speed of printing. HP also claims that the new shape of the cartridges allows them to position ink more accurately on the page, thereby improving image quality.

The new ink formulations provide brighter colours on both coated and plain paper types. In addition to this they offer improved fade resistance, according to Wilhelm Imaging Research, offering between 85 and 110 years resistance to light fade depending on the specific ink type used. The range also includes a new black ink cartridge which the company says provides laser quality text printing at higher speeds than the previous cartridge allowed.

The new cartridges contain microchips which store data unique to each cartridge, such as the precise ink drop weight, which is used by the printer to ensure colour printing consistency even when switching to different cartridges. HP now includes a postage paid envelope with each new cartridge which customers can use to return their old cartridges for recycling at no cost. Battling against a tide of cheap third party cartridges and ink refills, the company is keen to promote its own inks as being scientifically superior to cheap alternatives, offering better quality, longevity and consistency.

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