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by Ray DeCosta

Q. A friend told me that I should turn off my printer by using only the printer's own power switch. What did he mean by that?

A. This is one of those questions that begs for a very simple answer but in reality is more complicated than you might expect. The following information applies to both bubble-jet and ink-jet printers with some qualifications but not to laser printers. On shutoff, most printers will move the ink cartridge(s) off to the side of the print carriage and park the heads into a cover mechanism which helps prevent them from drying out. However, this may only happen if you use the printer's own on-off switch and not just turn the power off at the surge protector or by unplugging the wall cord.

If the ink dries out in the cartridge, you will have to run the printer through one or several cleaning cycles or, in the worst case, have to replace the cartridge which contains the printing mechanism. In either event, you will be wasting ink - a small amount is used up each time a cleaning cycle occurs and if you have to replace a cartridge (or several) you'll be throwing away all the ink remaining in each one.

And note the use of the word "most." Some printers do not have this power switch feature. You should always read your owner's manual or check out the manufacturer's forums for a definitive answer regarding the shut-down procedure for your specific printer.

Published: Courier 1/2/12 - Page 5C