When the temperatures drop you might be concerned about your ink and toner cartridges. Left them in a freezing car overnight? Is your office unheated on weekends? Do you have a printer in an unheated cabin or trailer?
First, let’s talk about toner. Toner cartridges (the big expensive ones) are used in Laser printers. Toner is really very fine plastic flakes. So they cannot be harmed by freezing per se. However, if there is condensation in the cartridge itself, you can have clumping and the toner can cause problems for your printer. While it isn’t ideal to let your toner cartridges freeze, there is less product risk than with ink.
Ink cartridges (used in ink jet printers) are made of an emulsified mix of pigment and a liquid pigment carrier that is a proprietary mix of glycerine and other surfactants, a humectant like propenol and an aqueous carrier like water. Depending on the ratios, ink will freeze at a temperature near or below the freezing temperature for water. Once that happens, the pigment particles will start to settle or separate, the plastic cartridges can crack due to expansion and when the cartridge thaws the ink may not re-emulsify and will be de-stabilized. All in all, it means that you shouldn’t let your ink cartridges freeze.
So what if you need to print on a regular basis in freezing temperatures? You may want to consider a thermal printer which uses specially coated paper that changes color when exposed to heat as a long-term solution.
If you do have a printer or cartridges that have been below freezing, let them thaw and raise their temperatures to stabilize at 50° or higher before printing. Belts and electronic components inside printers need to become pliable to work well. If you are concerned that there may be permanent damage, contact your local Rapid Refill store for a service call.