How Long Do Printers Last

by Anthony Clark

Are you buying a printing machine for the first time or already clinging onto one? Well, knowing about how long printers last will help you find out your machine’s value for money. Also, the information will place you in a better position to know when next to splurge.

On average, printers last around 3-5 years. Some last longer, while some last a few months–it all depends on the general level of upkeep you invest into yours.

Factors that determine printer’s shelf-life

Factors that determine printer’s shelf-life
Factors that determine printer’s shelf-life

Three main factors dictate how long you will use your printer before it dies or becomes obsolete. They include:

  • The specific hardware in your printer
  • The general bulkiness of your daily chores
  • How you maintain your printer

The specific hardware in your printer

A printing machine consists of certain replaceable parts that determine its general shelf-life—knowing about when to replace or fix each part can help you level-up your printer’s life.

The Cartridge

The ink cartridge is not any different from other parts. It has a shelf-life and an expiry date that is not inscribed anywhere. Generally, cartridges last between 1-2 years. But yours can exceed this period under proper care and maintenance.

If you abandon the machine in an isolated space, the ink cartridge will expire in less than two years. Using expired ink will lead to low prints. The text and graphics become invisible with charred marks. To fix that error, you can clean the cartridge off any lump of ink. You can as well replace it with a new one.

The printhead

 The printhead is the energy powerhouse of your machine. This part consists of nozzles that collect and show all graphics you want to feature in your print. Also, it is the most sensitive part that needs proper care and maintenance.

 The print head often clogs when the cartridge dries. For example, if you stop using your printer for weeks, the chances are that you are going to find this part clogged.

 Keeping the print head maintained can ladder-up your printers’ longevity a bunch. Lucky for you, the head is easy to fix off any clog with only a simple DIY hand-cleaning.

Ink supply system

The ink supply system is in-built and will last years until when the machine becomes unuseful. Depending on your type of printer, ink supply systems come in different designs and sizes.

Any malfunctioning in this system will prompt your computer to generate “ink system failure” on the screen. Luckily, you can open the system, unclog the channels, and keep the machine on its feet again.

Stabilizer bar

The stabilizer bar is the watch-dog that ensures your print head does not skip any line when printing.  This way, you can come up with a quality print-out that is accurate to the dot.

This part has a shelf-life of about 3-4 years. If you keep your printhead fit every time, the bar also keeps its longevity.

Stepper motor

 A stepper motor is a unit that moves the print head back-and-forth. It has a shelf life of more than a year under proper care. It will work well under ideal power output.


 In short, your printer will not work if any of these parts is not functioning well. To keep your machine fit, make sure to maintain all these components. This way, you will enhance your machine’s functionality and general shelf-life.

The Bulkiness of Task on your Desk

Ever wondered what will happen if you print for days uninterruptedly? Well, the machine will not only heat, but you risk damaging some of its components.

This is the logic behind bulky work. When you print frequently, you may get the error message “printer cooling.”

This message means your printing system is too hot to continue working. If you do not leave the system to cool, it will stop working. When doing bulk printing, you will naturally force the printer to work overboard. The cooling error message will appear frequently. This means you are straining the machine hence reducing its shelf life.

What to do when the cooling error message pops up?

If the error message pops up, do not turn the machine off. Instead, rest the machine for about 5-15 minutes. It will clear itself off any underlying printing work and cool. You can know when the cooling process is over when the red lights stop blinking. Once done, continue printing normally.

Further, consider opening the windows and aerating your working space. Make it ventilated as possible to allow an excellent flow of air in and outside the printer.

If you have to print bulky works, such as pamphlets, divide the chore into small chunks. Print each chunk in shifts, allowing the printer to cool when done with each chip.

Always make sure to keep the printing temperature at standard–between 5-35 degrees Celsius. If your environment is hot, invest in a powerful fan that can well aerate your surroundings.

What happens when the printer does not cool?

You are probably wondering what will happen if you continue working devoid of the error message!

Well, your printer should stop immediately whenever the error message pops. If it doesn’t, the chances are high that its fuse is faulty. If that is the case, continuing printing will melt the fuse regulating the temperature inside. Consequently, other sensitive parts inside become unmasked and vulnerable to an explosion.

How you Maintain your Printer

Your being on this page is a justification that you are looking to extend your printer’s shelf life. Congratulations!  You can now check and practice the hacks below for outstanding results.

Keep the printing head always clean

The printing head clogs most of the time. You can know when it has been blocked whenever you print papers or graphics with missing ink. Do not wait for this to happen, as clogging reduces your printer’s lifespan.

If you have an advanced printer, run the self-cleaning command from the computer if it supports it. The machine will unclog the printing head of any stray ink automatically. Or, you can open the printing head and clean it manually.

Keep the machine safe

Invest in an excellent fuse to protect the printer from power overload and short circuits. With this equipment, you won’t fret whenever the grid power becomes unstable. Neither will you worry whenever there is an upsurge.

Place the printer in an ideal space

Your printer can fit anywhere, but you need an ideal space that will promote longevity. Make sure space is aerated with a level surface. Avoid dusty places since specks of dust cover the air vents on the printer, leading to “suffocation.”

Install an Ideal Cartridge

Not so many times will you replace the cartridge. But if you have to, make sure to install the right cartridge that is compatible with your printer. This way, you will prevent damages to other secondary parts that result from malfunctioning cartridges.

Check and Fix Mechanical errors instantly

Mechanical errors such as paper jams frequently occur to the extent that you will work well with them. If it happens, configure the setting, making sure to fix it immediately. Until you find the solution to the errors, do not print.

Signs that it is Time to Replace Your Printer

Even with the maintenance and care we have shared above, it will reach a time to consign your printer to the bin. Below are a few signs that you need to extend your hands to your pockets again.

Abnormal behavior

If your printer is showing frequent error messages even after repairs, something is amiss. You need to toss or take it to the manufacturer for proper tossing.

When your printer experiences paper jams or produces poor-quality print, don’t wait for it to stop all your office chores. The chances are high that various hardware has worn out to an irreparable extent—plan on how you can secure a new printer before it is time.

A hike in printing cost

Are you incurring unimaginably higher printing costs than you use to? If yes, this might be a potential sign that the time has come.

First, if your machine is old-fashioned, it may print less while consuming a lot of power and ink. If this is your case, consider upgrading to a classic or modern machine that saves on inputs.

Your printer lacks current security features

Printers are one of the office equipment that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. They are potential gateways for identity theft and other malicious hacking.

 Hackers can also use your printer for DDO attacks and sending malicious print jobs. To some extent, they can use your printer to subscribe to YouTube channels.

 In case you are using a shared network, make sure that your machine is encrypted. If it lacks encryption features, you have no option other than upgrading. Also, you should be able to turn and disable your shared networks from your printer.

 If your printer doesn’t support current security software, consider buying an advanced one. Go for a model that installs and supports firmware and firewalls. The two software are fantastic for caulking passageways that hackers may use to infiltrate your network.

When your printing need has changed

Do you print more or less than you used to? And is your printer flexible enough to cater to your current needs?

 If you print less, then keeping a big machine is of no need. Sadly, with a big machine, the repair cost will hardly change, also is the power consumption when in use. All these come with extra expenses that you can cut by securing a small printer.

If you have more people using the printer, you may need a fast-paced model to minimize jam. Also, when you have a lot of printing work, going for a larger machine that produces multiple copies at once can help.

Lastly, the printing needs vary. You may need a scalable printer that you can use for graphics and design. In such a case, going for a new machine is your only solution.

 Also, you may need to print in formats and fonts that your current printer does not support. In this regard, you have no choice other than to go for a printer that is ideal for your hustle.


How long your printer should last mainly depends on how you maintain and care for it. Read the manual, keep the maintenance guidelines in your tips, and you will see your machine holding up for years. Otherwise, up to here, this article has shown you everything you need to know about printer longevity and how to maximize it. 

About Anthony Clark

Anthony Clark always had a passion for digital drawing and printing ever since he was young. He would wander around his parents' house in Phoenix, Arizona drawing various things with his older digital tablet. Be it just a memory collection or a portrayal of anything: objects, parents, school, events, etc. He received his BA in Graphic Design at San Jose State University - the heart of Silicon Valley. Now Mr. Clark is excited to present his experience coupled with some colorful dips to help shape the future of printing.

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