Got ink? – ISO means different things to different people. Talk to a network engineer and he or she will discuss the 7 layers of network protocols.  Photographers – when film was the photographer’s medium – knew which film to purchase because it represented varying film speeds. Digital cameras still have ISO settings based on this standard.

Image Courtesy: Dell

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a set of rules that govern many industries. It can be created as a proprietary standard and then released by the manufacturer to an open, governed standard as in the case of Adobe’s PDF (portable document format). The U.S. courts have adopted a version of PDF-A to preserve court documents – instead of paper documents – for hundreds of years. Without a standard, a court clerk would have little chance of opening a PDF using future technology.

For printer manufacturers, ISO is a set of standards that they must adhere to when producing replaceable ink-jet cartridges. All ink-jet printer manufacturers must comply with these standards.

Testing the amount of pages that an ink cartridge produces is similar to testing the amount of miles a car will travel on a gallon of gas. It’s done through real-world testing. But unlike testing auto mileage, which is performed in a windless environment without passengers or cargo, printer manufacturers determine the number of pages per cartridge in a true real-world environment: by printing.

At minimum, three cartridge sets are tested on three different printers for a total of nine cartridges tested. The printer cartridges must have different manufacturing dates and locations. The manufacturer determines the average and that is the number it advertises.

The standard states:

These tests (ISO/IEC 24711 and 19798) use a standard set of five test pages — four typical customer pages and one diagnostic page-that are printed continuously until the cartridge is empty. The standard set contains a mixture of images and text in different quantities to achieve an average of 5 percent coverage per color per page (for an aggregate total of approximately 20 percent page coverage). Page yield tests are conducted in a controlled environment with a temperature of 23 ° C +/-2 ° C.

Your mileage may vary

In the case of that new automobile, your mileage will be lower because you’re carrying cargo, passengers and are travelling uphill half the time. But that is not the case with printer cartridges. Printer settings allow users to reduce or increase the amount of ink flow depending on the users needs.

So while an average is determined by the manufacturer, the user can game it to his or her advantage by reducing or increasing quality based on individual needs.

Dino Londis
Based in New York, Dino Londis is an IT veteran, an alum of The National Lampoon and a senior technologist at Contact him at [email protected]
Dino Londis
Dino Londis
Tags: Business,Productivity