Many people who have just bought a printer are “pleasantly surprised” that their printer seems to have special ink level gauges, displaying the ink level in the cartridges. Indeed, today’s printers have systems called either “Ink Level Indicators”, or “Ink Status”, or simply “Printer Status”, which claim to show how much ink you have left in your cartridges.
It is however important to stress that all these systems do not actually measure the real volume of ink in the cartridge.
What the ink lever gauges really are?
The ink level gauges are in facts simple software counters that “detect” every new cartridge (by the serial number stored in its electronic circuit or chip). Then, they start to count the printed dropshots (dots printed) by the printer cartridge.
In this way, they just roughly calculate the amount of ink the cartridge should have. These “indicators” in facts never read the actual amount of ink in the cartridge. They just roughly make estimates.
Once the cartridge gets refilled, the ink level gauges have no way to “detect” that the cartridge is now full again and will keep on claiming that the cartridge is empty. Normally this should not be a problem, because most printers will continue printing, disregarding the gauges readings.
Unfortunately, this is not true for all brands of printers.
The bad news is that some types of printers rely solely on these “ink level gauges”, and no matter how much ink you may have in your cartridge, they refuse to print, once the ink gauge levels have reached zero …
The Good guys and Bad guys
As you guess, the only goal of these “level indicators” is to prevent you from refilling your cartridges. Manufacturers have no interest in allowing their cartridges to be refilled, because they earn their millions not from selling printers but from selling consumables.
Still, the different manufacturers have a different approaches. In most cases, the printers branded Hewlett Packard and Canon will only report that the cartridge is empty (according to the ink level gauges) but will still continue printing.
There are manufacturers however, whose “policy” is far more uncompromising towards their customers. The printers of these manufacturers will simply get stuck and refuse to print if, according to the level gauges, the ink in the cartridge have reached zero. Such companies are Epson and Lexmark, but some Samsung and Xerox printers also behave this way.
Make sure you have this in mind when buying a new inkjet printer.