Archive for May, 2010
If you find yourself spending a lot of money on toner cartridges, you may have considered purchasing refilled toner cartridges, or even taking your empty cartridges to be refilled. While this might seem like a good way to avoid the high prices of OEM versions, such as genuine Oki toner, there are many drawbacks to using refilled cartridges that can make them unreliable and potentially even harmful to your printer. Other options such as remanufactured cartridges can offer higher-quality, affordable alternatives without the extra risk. Here are a few of the drawbacks of using refilled cartridges:
Refilled cartridges are just as they sound. They are previously used cartridges that have been refilled with new toner. In many cases, this simply involves drilling a small hole in the cartridge and refilling it with toner powder. The process is often referred to as “drill and fill”. The problem with this process is that plastic shavings from drilling can drop into the toner chamber, which can cause damage to the printer toner cartridge, and sometimes even your printer. If the cartridge isn’t sealed correctly, it could even leak or spill causing a huge mess.
Poor Toner Quality
Some shops that handle the refilling process may use toner that is not up to the quality standards of the manufacturer. If the toner powder does not melt at the proper temperature, for example, it could work incorrectly and produce poor print quality and even cause damage to the machine’s internal components such as the fuser or roller.
Many third parties that sell refilled toner or refill kits don’t offer the same quality guarantee as the manufacturer, or even the same guarantee you will often find when purchasing remanufactured toner cartridges. If something goes wrong with the cartridge or the kit, you may not be able to return it, and even worse, you may be stuck replacing your printer if it was damaged.
On the surface, the cost savings of refilled cartridges might seem worth the risk, especially when they are available at much lower prices than OEM versions. But this is not the only alternative. Remanufactured toner cartridges are those that have been previously recycled. They then go through the remanufactured printer toner process. This is a much more thorough process that includes inspection and replacement of any worn or faulty parts, carefully opening the cartridge with specialized tools, and refilling it with high-quality toner.
The best part about using remanufactured toner is that the price is much lower than OEM alternatives, but many sellers also offer a satisfaction guarantee. These cartridges meet or exceed the quality of their OEM counterparts, and still help you save money while avoiding the drawbacks of simple refilling. The result is an affordable and reliable solution to the high price of toner cartridges.
Brother is one of the top manufacturers in the printing industry. This company is known for being innovative and is a front-runner in the topic of “who makes the best business printers?” Brother has also designed lines of sewing and embroidery machines. In recent years, though, the Graffitee series has taken over the garment printing industry.
There are three models in this line of printers: the GT-341 (entry level), GT-361 (mid level), and GT-381 (high level). The GT-341 and GT-361 have a modular design, meaning they can be upgraded to have the same features as the GT-381. This allows the machines to grow with a company as volumes increase, eliminating the possibility of an entry-level printer becoming obsolete when higher capacities are required.
This beginner’s garment printer offers only black, cyan, magenta, and yellow Brother ink, meaning you will only be able to print on light or white materials. The 1200 dpi quality will produce photo-quality images that can be loaded directly through the USB flash drive port. An ethernet interface is also available so multiple users can share the GT-341 in an office or shop. GraffixPro Studio t-shirt design software is provided by Brother, making this is a perfect machine for a startup company.
The mid level model has all of the same built-in features as its younger brother (pun intended), but it offers two additional white printheads, allowing you to print on lights and darks. The ink cartridges are front loaded and there is room for two additional white printheads, which would upgrade it to the high level category. As the middle model, the GT-361 is ideal for an established garment printing company with a steady, but not heavy, volume of orders.
The GT-381 offers all of the features that the other two Brother garment printers do, and then some. This model is the cream of the crop, featuring cyan, black, magenta, yellow, and four white ink cartridges. Besides having 8 printheads, what sets this printer apart from the others is its production speed. The white and the color ink is distributed simultaneously to create a single-pass printing method, which minimizes the time it takes to complete each task, making it the best option for high-volume companies.
Though clearly built to appeal to shops with varying volumes, these three Brother GraffiTee digital garment printers will all generate top-of-the-line quality. The unique modular design of the GT-341 and GT-361 enable them to grow with a young company, and the GT-381 is fully loaded to handle rapid fire demands. These machines are not exactly inexpensive, but the overall value will certainly pay off.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) printer cartridges are products that are manufactured directly by a brand name company, like HP or Canon, and have the manufacturer brand name directly on the product packaging. If you purchase your printer cartridge from a retail web site, OEM or brand name cartridges are typically sold side-by-side with non-brand cartridges, typically called “compatible” or “remanufactured” cartridges, which are typically much less expensive than their brand name counterparts.
The warranty process for OEM cartridges is completely different from compatibles or remanufactured cartridges, which are typically warrantied by the retailer. With OEM printer toner and inkjet cartridges, the warranty is provided directly from the manufacturer. Your retailer will ask you to contact the manufacturer directly if you need to replace a defective OEM cartridge that is still under warranty. The retailer has no choice on this matter, these rules are established by the manufacturers themselves.
Unfortunately, sometimes the manufacturer may be reluctant to provide warranty service on a product that was not purchased directly from them, but this does not change the warranty, and the manufacturer has an obligation to fulfill its warranty regardless of where the product was purchased.
In order to receive warranty service for an OEM product, use the contact phone number listed on the cartridge or on the original product packaging. Have the serial number of your machine ready, if possible, as many manufacturers will ask for it in order to verify the product’s warranty. Below is a list of contact information for popular manufacturers, and the typical warranty period for their products.
Life of Warranty
Customer Service Phone Number
Warranty Information Link
|Brother||1 Year||1-877-276-8437||Brother Warranty|
|Canon||90 Days||1-800-652-2666||Canon Warranty|
|Dell||Life of Supply||1-800-822-8965||Dell Warranty|
|Epson||30 Days||1-800-444-1527||Epson Warranty|
|HP||Life of Supply||1-800-474-6836||HP Warranty|
|Kodak||1 Year||1-888-368-6600||Kodak Warranty|
|Konica Minolta||1 Year||1-877-778-2687||Konica Warranty|
|Lexmark||Different for each product||1-800-438-2468||Lexmark Warranty|
|Okidata||90 Days||1-800-OKI-DATA (1-800-654-3282)||Not Available|
|Ricoh||90 Days||1-800-RICOH-38 (1-800-742-6438)||Warranty information with each product|
|Samsung||1 Year||1-800-SAMSUNG (1-800-726-7864)||Samsung Warranty|
|Xerox||Life of Supply||1-800-821-2797||Xerox Warranty|
At home or in the office, if you print on a regular basis the costs will add up over time and take up a portion of your budget. Because we do not pay per print, it is easy to disregard printing costs. However, there are some simple things you can do to reduce those costs, thus opening a significant chunk of the budget for other things.
Use Compatible or Remanufactured Printer Cartridges
Instead of purchasing replacement ink or toner cartridges from the manfucturer or at a local office supplies store, check out some third-party vendors online. Often they will have rebuilt cartridges or new, compatible cartridges that will produce the same quality but without the high price tag of the OEM versions. There are also kits out there that you can use to refill the cartridges yourself, but this comes with many risks that may end up costing more than the original, especially if you have to replace your printer due to damage.
Print on Both Sides of the Paper
Most modern printers have an automatic duplex mode that will print on both sides of the page in a single pass. Some printers only offer manual duplexing which requires you to flip the paper over after the first side has printed. If this mode is used consistently, paper costs could be reduced by almost half, which could save you a significant amount of money.
Use the Draft Mode or Eco Mode
Most printers provide various print quality modes that you can choose from. The draft mode or eco mode is the most economical as this mode uses less ink or toner per print. The quality may degrade slightly, but it is usually hardly noticeable and the documents will still be acceptable for everyday use. To set this mode, select Properties in the Print window and go to the Quality tab. Some models even offer a button on the control panel to enable this setting.
Adjust Darkness Settings
Setting the darkness level lower will not drastically change the document, yet it will usually reduce the amount of ink or toner being used per page. The image or letters will still be crisp and clear, just not as bold.
Some situations require a hard copy, but if something can be handled digitally, do so. With the rise of scanners and the fall of fax machines over the last decade, only a single hard copy of something is often needed. This can be scanned and saved or shared. Important documents can be digitally signed, eliminating the need to print numerous copies.
Use the Right Kind of Printer
You know how much daily printing is done in your home or office, so it is up to you to determine the right kind of printer. Inkjet printers are less expensive upfront, but the consumables have low yields, meaning you will be spending money on replacements frequently. Laser printers are more expensive off the shelf but will cost less per page as the laser printer toner cartridge yield more and cost less. If you are in an environment that requires a lot of printing, copying and faxing, the most economical choice is a multi-purpose machine. It will save money, space, time and energy.
These are some of the ways you can cut your overall printing costs, none of which require too much work. Most require simply changing a few settings and finding a new cartridge vendor. If you make these changes, you may be amazed how much less you spend to print over the course of a year.
Many HP printers feature letters after the model number. For instance, the HP LaserJet CP5525 comes in 3 variations: CP5525n, CP5525dn, and CP5525xh. If you are a buyer looking for a new HP printer for your home or office, these extra letters may be confusing, but they help to describe some of the main features of their particular models.
Here is a list of many common model variations and what the letter represent:
- d – duplexing
- n – networking
- t – extra paper tray
- dn – duplex and networking
- dtn – duplex, networking and extra paper tray
- x – duplex, networking and extra paper tray (many older models have the “dtn” variation, but that has been replaced on more current models by the letter “x”)
- xh – duplex, networking, extra paper tray and hard drive
- xm – duplex, networking, extra paper tray and mailbox
- xs – duplex, networking, extra paper tray and stacker
- xsk – duplex, networking, extra paper tray, stacker and stapler
- sk – stapler and stacker
- f – fax
- h – hard drive
- i – card slots
- w – wireless
- wf – wireless and fax
- bt – Bluetooth
- wbt – wireless and Bluetooth
- nw – networking and wireless
In many cases, the base model is upgradeable to add these features one by one. If a small company is just starting out, the base model may be sufficient in the beginning, but as business increases, additional features may be required. Alternatively, if an established company is in need of a fully-loaded machine, the various model types with included features are available upfront. This gives HP printers more versatility than some of the competition.
Nothing lasts forever, including printers. Whether you have a personal inkjet printer at your house or a high-volume MFP printer in your office, a day will come when it is time to bid farewell. But how will you dispose of your machine? Tossing it in the nearest dumpster is an option, but there are a number of other options that would be considerably better for the environment, and potentially beneficial for all parties involved.
Did you know that almost every piece of a printer is recyclable? The plastic frame and trays, the rubber and metal components, the ink or toner cartridges – many of these components can be used to make something else. Do the environment a favor and call a local recycling company or the garbage service in your county to schedule a pick-up or drop-off. Some organizations offer credit or even cash in return for your recycled product. Even stores like Best Buy have carry-in programs. If there is no local recycling facility near you, here is a link for some general recycling information.
Thrift stores and Goodwill are always willing to accept mechanical equipment, working or not working. Schools, libraries, churches, community centers, etc. would also happily accept a donated printer, though only a functioning one would be of use to them. You might want to consider removing the ink or toner cartridges from the machine (if empty) and donating those to foundations that recycle used cartridges for fundraising.
Give It Away
Though the prices of printers have become very reasonable over the years, having their own printer in the house is not a luxury everybody has. You probably have friends that print their pictures at Walmart, print concert tickets at work, or print homework at the library before class. If you have an old, working printer, why not give it to one of these friends? Even if it doesn’t work, there are many people that simply enjoy trying to fix things or take something apart just to put it back together.
If your old printer still works properly, but just doesn’t sufficiently handle your daily needs anymore, consider selling it. You can use the classified section of the local newspaper or the internet. Craigslist is a good site to use for local transactions that involve buyers picking up the product, while Ebay will reach a worldwide audience but involves the hassle of shipping, which is not always easy when it comes to printers.
These are simple alternatives to throwing a fixable machine or recyclable products in a garbage can. Even if the printer no longer suits your needs, you never know how much it could benefit someone else.
Brother laser printers track the life of the drum unit very closely, as it is an essential component in laser printing technology. The machine will warn you when the drum is nearing the end of its life with a blinking LED light, usually indicating that the drum will need to be replaced soon. The drum is the part of the printer that transfers printer toner from the cartridge to the page, so if the drum unit gets dirty or worn down, the quality of the prints will suffer.
If the drum LED is blinking, you can replace the drum immediately to avoid any further issue, but don’t jump the gun on this. Even if the indicator light is blinking, it is recommended to continue using your current drum until you can see a noticeable decline in quality. Once you start to see this, the drum is truly at the end of its life. The LED indicator light is actually based on the number of pages printed rather than the actual condition of the drum, so it is entirely possible for you to get many more pages after the first warning sign.
If the LED light continues to blink after you have replaced the drum, the printed page counter was not automatically reset when the new drum was installed. It is important to note that you should only reset the counter after installing a new drum so the printer can accurately keep track of the drum’s usage. To reset this counter manually, follow these instructions:
1. Open the printer’s cover.
2. Hold down the Go button until you can see that all four LED lights are on, then let go of the Go button.
3. Shut the cover.
4. Confirm that the drum LED is off.
The drum is one of the most important parts in any laser printer. If you so choose, you can always attempt to clean the drum before replacing it. This may allot you a few more prints, but it also comes with some risks, as does any activity that involves touching components inside the machine yourself. If you continue to have problems, don’t hesitate to contact Brother Technical Support for further assistance.
Paper jams are a frustrating part of using a printer. Not only does it waste paper, it could waste perfectly good ink or toner. Fortunately, there are only a few common causes of paper jams and multiple possible fixes that most anyone will be able to perform.
Before going into detail about how to clear a jam from your printer, it is essential that you understand the importance of preventative paper care. Wrinkled or damaged paper can cause repeated jams. Also, be sure you are loading the paper straight, using the guides on the side of the tray to properly align the paper. If the rollers pull the paper in crooked, it can cause a jam or the finished document will be lop-sided.
Clearing a Paper Jam
- If you can see the jammed paper, firmly but gently attempt to pull it out of the machine. If you pull too hard, it could tear, which could hinder future jobs.
- If the paper is jammed inside the machine, turn the power off and remove the tray(s).
- Check the LCD display. In many newer models, an error message will be shown that tells you specifically where the jam is.
- Open the access doors to the paper path as well as the cartridges.
- If necessary, you may have to remove the cartridges to reach the jam. Just be sure you set the cartridges on a towel or newspaper in case ink or toner leaks out.
- Once you locate the jam, firmly grasp the piece of paper with both hands and pull firmly. Try to avoid tearing the paper.
- For jams with multiple pieces of paper, try removing the middle page to loosen the jam.
If you do happen to tear the paper, you can try manually rotating the rollers to get the small pieces out. If this doesn’t work or is not applicable, you can always try using a set of tweezers to grab the torn pieces of paper. Once you feel the jam is cleared, insert the cartridges (if applicable) and close all open panels. Turn the machine back on and print a test page. If the error message remains, there is either still paper jammed inside the printer, or something is setting off the sensor, which can be fixed by cleaning the machine.
If you have tried fixing the jam yourself without success, it is possible that there is a part inside the printer that is no longer serving its purpose. You may want to contact technical support for more detailed troubleshooting tips or take your printer in for repair.
Here is a video to help you on your mission to rid your printer of paper jams: