Archive for April, 2010
When it comes to printing with a laser printer, the choice of media types can be rather versatile, but there are some important limitations. Not every kind of printer paper is compatible with laser printers. Some inkjet paper, special-coated paper and certain types of envelopes and labels will be too heat-sensitive to be successfully used with a laser machine. Laser technology implements a fuser assembly into the printing process. The fuser uses heat to fuse the toner into the fibers of the paper. If the paper is not designed to handle this, problems can arise, so it is better to choose paper specifically designed for laser machines.
Can you buy laser paper from anywhere? Yes, you can. But the quality of paper you get from a manufacturer like HP is generally going to be far better than generic brand you get at the local super store. Sure, it will cost more, but the durability and quality of the document printed on the higher-end paper will be worth it.
Let’s review some characteristics to consider when purchasing laser printer paper:
Thickness: The thicker the paper is, the heavier and more durable it will be. Typically, thicker paper is used for things like report covers and dividers. Sometimes, the thickness makes fusing the toner to the paper more difficult. In this case, you may need to adjust the printer fuser temperature settings.
Brightness: Brightness measures the paper’s ability to reflect light. The brighter the paper is, the more the colors will pop. Think in terms of contrast – bright white paper makes colors look more vivid.
Finish: The most common special finish is glossy, though matte is also fairly common. Glossy paper tends to be more resistant to water and boasts sharper images. Matte, on the other hand, minimizes the reflectivity and comes across a bit duller and less reflective, and is preferable for black-and-white photographs.
Acidity: Laser paper is often acid-free because the more acidic paper is, the easier it will break down over time (i.e. newspaper).
What are the media types used with a laser printer? Here are the primary choices:
Plain laser paper: Standard laser printer paper has less moisture than regular paper. This will reduce the possibility of curling or wrinkling, which is especially essential due to the heat created by the fuser.
Card stock: Refer to your user’s guide to see if your machine is capable of printing on cards. Sometimes cards are too thick to pass through certain paper paths.
Labels/Envelopes: Labels and envelopes fall into the same category because only types that are specifically marked as supported by laser printers should be used. The reason for this is that labels and envelopes both have adhesive on them. If the wrong type of adhesive gets exposed to the heat of the fuser, the envelope or label will be ruined and could potentially damage the machine.
Transparencies: Transparency film is clear paper typically used for projection presentations. Be sure to purchase transparency film specifically designed for laser printers and also be sure to get either color or monochrome transparencies, depending on the machine you are using.
Laser printers are extremely popular and have become a standard piece of equipment in most offices around the world. In general, the paper selection is vast, though certain media types will produce a higher-quality document and some should not be used in a laser printer at all. Use this list to determine which option best meets your needs.
Pigment ink and dye ink are fairly similar in that they are both used in inkjet cartridges. The main difference between the two is that dye inks are designed to be absorbed into the paper when printing, whereas pigment inks are designed to rest on top of the paper in small particles, which are not absorbed into the page. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Let us look at a few of the main issues that highlight their differences.
One of the main advantages of dye-based inks is that they are generally less expensive to manufacture, and therefore, inexpensive to purchase. For everyday printing of non-essential materials, dye-based inks have an advantage, as the extra cost of pigment-based inks may not be worth the difference.
Resistance to Water
Dye-based inks can often start to run, smear, or fade when a page is exposed to water. Even a few drops on a page can make it very difficult to read. Since the ink has been absorbed into the page, it is easily spread when the paper is compromised. Pigment inks resist water quite well, and tend to bleed less around the edges of a color than dye-based inks, and they have a longer life cycle. Pigment inks rest on the page in microscopic “blobs” that can be very resistant to water once they have dried.
Resistance to Fading
Photos and other printed material left in the sun, or even just exposed to sunlight over a long period of time, may start to fade. Dye-based inks often experience quite a bit of fading in a fairly short amount of time, as they are not particularly designed to be long-lasting. Pigment-based inks, however, are sometimes rated to last up to 100 years in “museum conditions” with minimal fading. These are often referred to as “archival quality” inks. Light tends to reflect or bounce off of pigment-based inks instead of being absorbed. If you want your photos to last a long time, consider choosing a pigment-based printer.
In previous iterations, dye-based inks could often produce a much wider color gamut than pigment-based inks. This could result in more accurate colors in photos and other images. There have been many improvements to pigment inks in recent years, however, and there is generally very little difference when it comes to quality. If you are considering a pigment ink printer for the other advantages, such as resistance to water and fading, you should not be concerned about a reduction in quality if all other factors are similar. Factors such as printer resolution will affect the print quality more than the type of ink. For more information, see our article on Understanding Printer Resolution.
Which is Better?
So now you may be wondering: which type of ink is better? The answer is that neither is better for every circumstance. If you are a photographer planning to sell your prints, and want them to last as long as possible for your clients, pigment-based inks may be the best choice. If you are an enthusiast on a limited budget, and you have digital backups so that you can re-print in the case of problems like fading and smearing, you may like the lower cost of dye-based inks. It is also important to remember that as both technologies improve, their disadvantages become less pronounced. By weighing the pros and cons along with your budget and other needs, you can make a more informed decision about which type of printer is best for you.
If your printer is starting to distribute ink unevenly on your pages; the most obvious reason would be a low level of ink or toner. However, before replacing the cartridge or calling a repair person, there could be other reasons that are causing these problems. If you have an inkjet printer, see the first paragraph below for trouble shooting options. If you own a laser printer, see the second paragraph for troubleshooting.
· Ink cartridge low on ink -Your first step in troubleshooting this particular problem is to check the ink level in your ink cartridge. You may be tempted to skip this step if you think you have not used the ink cartridge enough for it to be low on ink; however, check it anyway. If it is low and you know you have not come close to using the total yield page for the cartridge, the cartridge itself may be faulty. Replacing it will certainly fix your problem.
· Improper installation of ink cartridge – Another cause of uneven printing on a page could be that the ink cartridge is not properly installed. If it was not properly inserted and “locked” into place, and is in fact “lopsided”, it will produce uneven printing results on your page. To fix simply take the cartridge out, insert it again and make sure it snaps into place. Then try printing a test page.
· Paper – Check your paper to make sure it is loaded properly and it is not wet, dirty or crumpled. You may want to put fresh sheets of paper into the printer and run a few test pages in order to determine whether the paper is the source of the problem.
· Clogged ink jets – Inkjet technology requires nozzles to eject small blasts of ink to ensure optimal quality and precision, however, occasionally dried ink will clog when the printer is not in use. The clogging will block some ink dots from being applied, thus causing part of the page to be lighter. You can run the automatic internal cleaning routine from the control panel or printer software, which may be able to clear the clog, or you can manually clean the head with Q-tips soaked in water. Click here for more information on clogged jets heads.
Toner Cartridges for Laser Printers:
· Low Toner – The number of pages a toner cartridge will print before needing to be replaced varies among laser printer models. Check your owner’s manual or find your printer toner cartridges to determine the page yield for your toner cartridge. The printer manufacturer calculates the number of pages the cartridge will produce on the basis of distributing 5% of the toner over an 8.5″ x 11″ page. Consequently, if you print a lot of graphics, pages larger than 8.5″ x 11″ and/or pages with solid backgrounds, you will yield fewer pages per toner cartridge. In order to determine how much toner is left in your cartridge, you can link here to use a tool to calculate your printer page yield, or you can generate a statistics page via the display panel on the printer or from your computer.
· Displaced toner or “clumps” within cartridge – Sometimes “clumps” or uneven distribution of toner within the cartridge produces uneven placement of toner on the paper. You can eliminate either one or both of these problems by removing the cartridge from the printer and shaking it from side to side. Reinsert it and print a couple of test pages to see whether this solves the problem.
· Improper installation of toner cartridge – Sometimes a toner cartridge is not inserted properly and in fact, is “lopsided” which will produce uneven toner distribution on your page. If you find this is the case, remove the cartridge and reinstall it until it “locks” into place. Then, try printing a couple of test pages to determine whether your problem is resolved.
· Paper - If your paper is not inserted properly or it is wet, dirty or crumpled, this may be causing your problem. Simply replace the paper and run several test pages to see whether this improves the toner distribution on the page.
· Drum Replacement or Cleaning– Laser printers have an “imaging” drum that is either in your printer or part of the toner cartridge itself, depending on your printer model. If your printer has an imaging drum separate from the cartridge it will need to be replaced periodically. The rule of thumb is that an imaging drum will have a 3 to 5 times longer life span than your toner cartridge. Like changing the oil in your car, replacing the drum on time will prevent more damage down the road. A statistics page can be printed for the drum just as you would for the toner cartridges which will show the number of documents that have been printed with the current imaging unit. Imaging drums are sensitive to light, so if you remove it, be sure to keep it somewhere dark. Also you can wipe off any dirt or oil that gets on the drum from the rollers. These things can prevent toner from sticking to the drum, thus never be transferred to the paper. If cleaning the drum does not work, it is probably time to replace the drum.
If you get through this list and the problem persists, it is recommended that you contact the customer support of the printer manufacturer. They should be able to recommend more detailed troubleshooting tactics for your specific model, or recommend a technician to diagnose the problem.
Error code 10.32 is a warning designed by HP to alert users that the part they have installed was not manufactured by HP directly. Many users misinterpret this warning to mean that the part is incompatible with their printer, but this is not the case. It just means it is a compatible version of an HP component, rather than one manufactured by HP directly.
HP designed the warning to guard against companies that might label a part as genuine OEM, such as an HP CM2320 toner cartridge, when in fact it was manufactured by a third-party supplier. This, however, does not mean that the part will not be compatible with the printer or work just as well as the OEM version. The error is merely a measure designed to protect you against fraud by companies labeling off-brand parts as genuine HP parts.
The error message will likely appear after a compatible part has been installed and the printer is attempting to do the calibration process. Again, the printer is not rejecting the part or implying the part is faulty or incompatible, merely that it was not manufactured by HP directly. By pressing the bypass button on the control panel, you accept this warning and the printer will function as normal.
HP ink and toner cartridges from reputable third-party vendors are manufactured to be 100% compatible with your printer. In no way is Error code 10.32 an indication of the quality of the non-brand name part, however, if you get this error after installing an OEM product, it could be counterfeit or defective. You should contact HP to replace the OEM part and report the problem.
If the 10.32 message continues to be displayed once you have attempted to bypass it, contact HP Technical Support for help. It could be that the part is defective.
When a toner cartridge is running low or causing printing problems, it is not always easy to determine which cartridge is causing the problem. Fortunately, there are a few ways to find out which cartridge is empty or exhibiting an issue, so that you can narrow it down.
Check the Printer’s Control Panel
If your printer has a control panel with a display, it will usually give an indication of the toner levels for each of the four cartridges in your printer. For many models, the toner levels are displayed graphically, so that larger bars indicate a cartridge that is more full, and shorter bars mean the cartridge is close to empty. A cartridge that is malfunctioning may have an exclamation point or some other error icon displayed.
Check the Windows Printer Preferences
On a Windows computer, you can often check supply levels through the Control Panel. Click the Start button and click “Devices and Printers”, then right-click the icon for the printer and choose “Printer Preferences”. Click the Supplies or Maintenance tab if available. One of these tabs may give an indication of the supply levels.
Check the Software
The support software that is installed on the computer will usually also give an indication of toner levels, helping you narrow down the cartridge that is low. Check your manual for specific instructions on how to access these features, as it varies from model to model. Most often, if the toner levels are not displayed by default, they may be under a tab or menu item labeled Statistics, Maintenance, Supplies, or Toner.
Check the Web Interface
For networked printers, many include a web interface, which can be accessed through a web browser. This interface usually shows a lot of useful information, including toner levels. Instructions for accessing the web interface can usually be found in the printer’s manual.
Print a Supplies Usage Page
Many laser printers can print a Supplies Usage page which offers a breakdown of the toner levels for each cartridge. You should consult the manual for exact instructions for your model, but most HP printers and many others use a similar process. You simply hold down the Resume button for about two to three seconds, and the page will start printing.
Print a Test Page
If none of the procedures is any help, the last thing to do is print a test page which includes the colors of all four toner cartridges. This sample test page in PDF format can help to pinpoint the empty or problematic cartridge. Notice that this test page includes the four colors of typical laser toner cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. After printing the page, if one of the colors looks particularly light or is missing, that cartridge is nearly empty. If one of the colors is uneven or has streaks, this could be an indication that the cartridge is failing and may need replaced.
Once you have located the troublesome cartridge, you can replace it if you believe it is empty, or try shaking it to loosen any stuck toner, then reinsert and print a test page again. If you know the cartridge is not empty and you are still having problems, you can read about Possible Reasons Your Cartridges are Not Working for possible solutions.