What is a Printhead?
Inkjet printers that use ink cartridges have an electronic "printhead" located within the base of the carriage assembly. It's responsible for dispensing the ink from the cartridges and firing droplets onto the paper to create your text or images.
Can I Replace a Printhead?
Inevitably, with lots of use, the printhead will eventually fail. For some printer models, the printhead cannot be replaced by the printer owner. By checking the printer's user manual, you should know if your particular model will allow for easy printhead replacement. The Epson printhead, shown above, is one that may not be replaceable on your own and may require a professional.
To learn how to clean a printhead, click here.
What are Printhead Contacts?
Printheads have small dots on their surface called contacts. The cartridges you insert into the printhead will have similar contacts. When cartridges are inserted properly, the contacts will line up, and your printhead will recognize the cartridge as being compatible.
My Printer Doesn't Recognize My Cartridge
For issues such as "unrecognized cartridge" and "missing or damaged cartridge" are problems with the contacts either on the printhead or the cartridge. The first step to fixing this issue is to take out the cartridge and reinsert it. You can also try purchasing a new cartridge, in case it is a defect with that individual cartridge. This can be caused by ink residue covering the contacts, so you can also try cleaning the contacts. In the worst case, this can be an issue with the printhead itself that may only be resolved by replacing it entirely.
Read more here.