7 Things That Cause Printhead Failure

Jan. 31, 2023

7 Things That Cause Printhead Failure


You rely on your printer for a variety of reasons. Whether you are in the printing business or you require regular printing for certain aspects of your business, you need your printer to work when you need it. Printhead failure is a common problem that occurs with printers. It can stall your progress or completely shut down your business. 

What causes printhead failure? There are a few potential reasons your printhead may fail to operate properly. Here are 7 things that can cause printhead failure and what to do about it. 

  • Ink clogs. Ink typically exists in liquid form. When all goes well it flows freely with the right consistency to be applied to the paper, garment, or other item according to the printing instructions from the computer. However, ink can thicken and become clogged in the printhead, causing printing to be inconsistent or even stop completely. 

  • Dried ink. Ink that remains in the printhead for too long can dry and cause a blockage. This can prevent ink from flowing freely and even lead to dried ink flakes that can ruin printing projects. 

  • Dust or lint buildup. Sometimes it's not the ink that causes a clog, but dust or lint that builds up on or in the printhead. Dust can collect from particles floating in the air. Lint can come from the material used in garment printing. 

  • Lack of airflow. Insufficient or lack of airflow can cause problems with your printhead from clogs to dried ink and more. The air nozzles can become blocked in the same way your printhead itself can, from dust, lint, or ink. 

  • Leaving the printer on all the time. Most printers have a self clean cycle that is triggered to run when the printer is turned off or when it is first turned on. If you leave your printer on constantly it won’t get a regular cleaning. 

  • Infrequent use. On the contrary, when your printer is rarely used it can cause your printhead to fail due to dust/lint buildup and dried ink. 

  • Mechanical malfunctions. Sometimes a printhead fails due to a mechanical malfunction of some kind. Your printer may simply need repair or a new printhead. 

How Can These Issues Be Corrected and Prevented?

You can often correct and prevent the above printhead issues with the following tips: 

  • Run the printer’s self clean cycle. If your printhead is malfunctioning, the first step should be to run the self clean cycle on your printer. You’ll have to tell the printer to run the cycle if it isn’t doing so automatically. 

  • Manually clean your printhead. Using mild cleaning products, preferably those designed for printhead cleaning, manually clean your printhead to remove dried ink, dust, and lint. 

  • Use your printer daily. If possible, print something each day, even if it is a small test sample, to keep your printer working efficiently and prevent your ink from drying up. 

  • Turn off the printer at the end of each work day. It is important to power down your printer daily at the end of the workday. This triggers the printer to perform its self cleaning process, which can help prevent clogs and dried ink from building up. 

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