Archive for July, 2010
Giclée printing is a form of reproduction that allows artists to print high-resolution copies of artwork that have been digitally saved or created. This process requires a large-format inkjet printer that exceeds the standard four-cartridge ink system of average inkjet printers. Technically, Giclée can refer to any inkjet printing, but generally it is used to specifically denote high-resolution printing. According to Wikipedia, the term Giclée was coined in 1991 by a printmaker named Jack Duganne and derives from the French noun gicleur (nozzle) and French verb gicler (to squirt, spurt or spray).
Basically, the appeal of this type of printing for artists is that the old industrial machines would make hundreds or thousands of copies at a time and cost quite a bit of money. With Giclée, artists can make a high-grade reproduction of a piece of art as it is ordered for minimal costs without sacrificing quality. Since this technique was developed, multiple pieces of Giclée artwork can be found at galleries and museums in some of the world’s biggest cities. In fact, photographer Annie Leibovitz has sold Giclée prints for over $10,000.
The Epson Stylus Pro 7600 is an example of a Giclée printer. It is a large-format printer, meaning it can produce prints up to 24 inches wide. The length of the print is hindered only by the length of the roll of paper that is being used. There are actually 11 cartridges available for this particular unit, though not all 11 can be installed at the same time. The cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges come in two forms – dye-based and pigment-based. The dye-based options are fine for standard printing but will be insufficient for Giclée prints. The other cartridges are pigment-based, including regular black, light black, matte black, light cyan and light magenta. Having variations of the common CMYK inkjet cartridge system expands the color gamut and makes the gradient transitions smoother.
Two of the key factors for Giclée printing are archival-quality ink and substrates, or media types. Archival ink is resistant to smudging, fading and water, so it is guaranteed to last for many, many years. The ability to print on various sizes and canvases, such as textured vinyl, watercolor and matte paper, allows artists the ability to customize each print for the client. Giclée printing also gives the artist full control over the production process and the accessibility to these special printers, inks and paper types can allow artists to do this all from their home.
It doesn’t matter if you have painted a beautiful portrait that you scanned via a high-resolution scanner or digitally created a piece of art on your computer, a Giclée large-format printer will give you the opportunity to print gallery-quality copies of your work. As this trend grows in popularity, it has the potential to give unknown artists a new forum and art enthusiasts a more affordable way to purchase great artwork.
If you have a photo printer, you might be on the hunt for photo paper to complete the process of printing pictures. There are some things you should know before making your choice.
There are a few levels of paper quality out there, all of which are suited for certain tasks.
For printing standard pictures for everyday use, the standard quality of photo paper will be the easiest to handle, the most affordable, and will create photos that match the quality of a photo lab.
Albums & Scrapbooking
If you are printing images for the purpose of creating a photo album or for scrapbooking purposes, you will want to jump to the mid-level quality of paper. This paper will be a bit heavier and brighter, making it more durable over the years.
Exhibitions & Displays
When the photos you are printing are going to be displayed, either as a part of the home décor or in an art exhibition (photographers), the top quality paper is the best option. It will help each image look professional, with accurate lines and bold colors.
Thick photo paper will be more durable than the regular size and provide the texture that is expected from pictures. The most commonly used photo paper is about 7 to 10 mil. However, keep in mind that thicker paper will most likely cause more jams.
Opacity refers to how much light can penetrate the paper. Especially for pictures that are going to be displayed, you want to be sure to get photo paper with a high opacity rating so the surface behind the picture doesn’t show in bright light. Shoot for the range of 94 to 97.
When photo paper has a high measurement of brightness, it will appear whiter than average paper. Thus, the colors will contrast more to the paper, illuminating the image. Note, though, that if you see a brightness rating of 95 or higher from the ISO or 92 or higher from TAPPI, fluorescent agents may be added which could impact the integrity of the picture in terms of lifespan.
Matte vs. Glossy
The two most widely used photo paper types are matte and glossy, and which one you choose should be based on the purpose of your printing. Matte paper absorbs ink and toner more efficiently and has proven to be more durable over time. Glossy paper is infused with chemicals to make it shiny and reflective, but is more likely to fade in the future. Still it offers better coloring because the saturation and contrast are greater than with standard paper. Though it is a matter of preference, most people use glossy paper for color photos and matte paper for black-and-white pictures.
There are a number of components that go into deciding which photo paper is the best for you, but other elements such as using the best types of ink or toner for photo printing, can also make a difference. However, if you get the right paper, the quality of your printed pictures is likely to improve greatly.
When shopping for a printer, you have probably seen references to a printer’s resolution, or DPI, as a major selling point. Many buyers have the understanding that higher is perceived as better, but few may understand what the resolution actually means when it comes to print quality.
The resolution of a printed page has to do with the number of dots, and how close they are placed to each other, referred to as DPI or “Dots Per Inch”. It is a way of measuring how much ink or toner is used to create an image, so for every inch of the image, that’s how many dots of ink or toner will be applied to the page. An inkjet model sprays dots of ink onto the page, while a laser printer drops toner onto the page as particles which are then melted and fused. Xerox printers use Phaser solid ink in a similar manner, and the results are similar.
Images and text created by a printer are made up of thousands of tiny dots being applied by the inkjet nozzles or laser printer toner in a sort of “grid” format. Combining these thousands of dots can create any number of shapes and curves.
So why is the resolution, or DPI, so important? The more dots in a single inch, the more accurate the image will be. Curves will appear smoother, and text can appear sharper. Imagine drawing a circle by filling in blocks on graph paper. The more dense the blocks, the smoother the circle will appear. A printer with 1200 dots per inch has more to work with than one with 600 dots per inch. If you magnify a printed page, it would look similar to the image below.
For a printer with a resolution of 1200 DPI, there are 1200 dots of ink or toner for every inch of an image. Compared to a printer that is limited to 600 DPI, one would expect the shapes, text, and images have smoother curves and sharper detail. The main downside of a higher resolution model, however, is that it takes more time to apply the extra dots, and can result in slower printing speeds.
The type of printing method can also affect the appearance. For example, inkjet models tend to produce weaker text but better photos compared to laser models, while lasers excel at sharp text. The type of paper used can also affect the quality. Inkjet ink tends to bleed into plain paper more than photo paper, for example, so choosing paper designed for your output type can get the best results for the printer’s resolution.
It is important to note that many printers are capable of printing at multiple resolutions. This provides the best of both worlds. For every day printing, for example, users who prefer faster speeds and don’t mind sacrificing a bit of quality can choose a lower resolution such as 300 DPI, while prints that need to meet the highest quality standards can be printed at a higher resolution such as 1200 DPI, taking a bit of a hit in speed. Most printers tie the resolution to one of multiple “quality” settings, though these settings can also control the amount of ink or toner used for each dot, which can result in a lighter image as well as one that is less sharp. For more information on printer quality modes, see this post.
Some printers have an “optimized” resolution that is much higher. An optimized resolution involves layering the dots by making multiple passes. This can make an image “appear” sharper or more detailed, but an optimized resolution of 2400 dpi, for example, will not actually be as sharp or detailed as a printer capable of a 2400 dpi resolution. As you might expect, these multiple passes also take more time, and use more ink and toner, which can increase costs.
When shopping for a printer, it is true that a higher DPI is generally better. Since printers with higher resolutions often cost more, however, buyers may opt for a lower DPI to save costs, or if faster speeds are a necessity. Whichever DPI you choose, you can now make a more informed decision with a better understanding of how DPI works, and what effect it will have on printed pages.
Single-pass and multi-pass laser printers vary in speed, cost and sometimes quality. So, which is best-suited to meet your needs?
Most color laser printers have four toner cartridges - cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The primary difference between single-pass and multi-pass printers is that each cartridge has its own drum in a single-pass printer and all four cartridges share a single drum in a multi-pass printer.
A drum can only apply one color of printer toner at a time. When a sheet is fed into a single-pass unit, all four colors of printer toner can be applied simultaneously as each cartridge has its own drum. Thus, a single pass is all that is required to produce a complete color document. This printing method is the most efficient but maintenance costs could add up as four drums must be maintained.
Because only one drum is used in multi-pass printer, each color must be applied separately, ultimately requiring up to four passes per document. Clearly, this process will take considerably longer than the single-pass method but it will be far more affordable to maintain the single drum unit. Besides the slower speed, quality could also be an issue with multi-pass printers. If the sheet of paper or the drum shift during a job, the colors could overlap or not align correctly, corrupting the image. This shouldn’t happen often, but note that the possibility does exist.
To offer a comparison, let’s look at two popular HP laser printers that use either printing process. The HP LaserJet CP2025 is a single-pass color laser printer that is office-oriented and can generate up to 20 pages per minute. That equates to about 3 seconds per document. The HP LaserJet 2550, on the other hand, is a multi-pass color laser printer that is designed more for small workgroups and home offices. Its maximum output rate is only 12 pages per minute or 5-6 seconds per document. Though that may not seem like a big difference, in a fast-paced environment, it can have a major impact on productivity.
Of course, there are many other elements that you should look at to determine the appropriate printer for your needs. Which printing process works better is completely contingent on what is important to you. If speed is essential, the single-pass method is the clear choice. However, if speed takes a backseat to affordability, you may want to consider a multi-pass printer. In general, both will provide color documents that meet high-quality standards, though the multi-pass option may be a bit more of a risk in that department.
Here is a very short video of the single-pass printing process. As you can see, the paper passes through one time and each color is applied in sequence:
Although newer models of HP printers offer big LCD screens that display text descriptions of problems occurring with the unit, the older models have small status windows that display numeric error codes with minimal description. Below is a list of some of the most common error codes you may come across with your HP printer. Keep in mind, some of these issues are easily fixed, but others may require the help of the professionals at HP Technical Support.
Error 11: Paper Empty
Solution: Restock the paper.
Error 12: Printer is open
Solution: Close all doors and panels on the printer.
Error 13.XX: Paper Jam
Solution: Clear the paper jam.
|13.0||Jam in non-specific location|
|13.1||Paper delay at paper-feeder|
|13.10||Jam at duplexer|
|13.2||Paper jam at paper-feeder|
|13.20||Jam in paper path|
|13.21||Jam because top cover open|
|13.5||Paper delay at fuser|
|13.6||Paper jam at fuser|
|13.99||Jam in non-specific location|
Error 14: Cartridge Not Installed Correctly
Solution: Remove and reinstall the cartridge. Be sure it locks securely into place.
Error 16: Ink/Toner Low
Solution: Change the expired cartridge.
Error 20: Insufficient Memory
Solution: Add more memory if possible or reduce the amount of data sent by splitting into multiple print jobs.
Error 21: Task Too Complex (Print Overrun)
Solution: Reduce the amount of data or split the task into multiple print jobs.
Error 40: Bad Transmission
Solution: Reset the machine or replace the networking card in the slot giving the error message.
Error 50: Fuser
Solution: Contact Technical Support
Error 52: Scan Speed Incorrect
Solution: Reset printer and check all cables. This could be a startup error or rotation error. If the problem persists, contact Technical Support.
Solution: Turn off the machine and take out the memory card. Reseat or insert it into a different slot, if possible. The issue may be a faulty or incompatible memory card.
Error 54: Seal Not Removed From Cartridge
Solution: Take the new ink or toner cartridge out of the printer and remove the shipping seals.
Error 55: Internal Communication
Solution: Likely an internal component issue (i.e. formatter, engine controller board), contact Technical Support.
Error 57: Fan Failure
Solution: This could be the printer fan or duplexer fan. Contact Technical Support.
Error 59: Main Motor
Solution: Contact Technical Support.
Error 62.X: Main Printer Memory
Solution: Restart the printer (to clear internal memory), or replace the media card. For more assistance, contact Technical Support.
|62.1-4||Memory card slots 1, 2, 3, or 4|
Error 64: Scan Buffer
Solution: Restart the printer. If the error still appears, contact Technical Support.
Error 69: Duplex Failure
Solution: Restart the printer. If the error still appears, contact Technical Support.
This list of codes should be helpful at home or at the office. While certain error codes may vary with each model, these are some of the most common problems you will encounter. Use the troubleshooting tips, but be careful not to damage the machine any further by attempting advanced repairs.
Even the best printers in the world require maintenance from time to time. Moving parts within the machine will get worn down, causing issues like streaking and paper jams. For this reason, many manufacturers offer maintenance kits that consist of replacements for key components within the printer. No two models are exactly the same, so different maintenance kits may include different parts.
When a printer is built, the manufacturer decides on a number of pages that can be printed before maintenance is required. After each interval of that number of prints, a warning message may be displayed. The machine will still operate, as this maintenance is simply preventative, but it is recommended that you use a maintenance kit to keep your machine running smoothly.
For those with a Xerox printer that uses solid ink, a maintenance roller is available . This roller consists of silicone oil that will lubricate and clean the drum when installed. Laser printers use a powder toner that will typically flake off the drum, but these Xerox printers use solid sticks of ink, much like wax. The wax is melted in order to be applied to the paper, and this can cause a build-up on the drum. The maintenance roller will get rid of that. Some models offer extended maintenance rollers, such as the Xerox 108R00676, which will last more than twice as long as the standard roller.
The maintenance kits for laser printers consist of many components. Here is a chart of the primary parts of most laser printer maintenance kits:
|Component||What purpose does this serve?||What could happen if this is not maintained?|
|Transfer rollers||Transfer rollers are electronically charged and do the job of transferring the toner to the paper.||Toner will not transfer in the spots the rollers are damaged, which will create white or faded lines on the prints.|
|Fuser||The fuser consists of two rollers that implement heat to fuse the toner to the fibers of the paper.||Toner will not be properly fused and will be loose on the paper, causing streaking and smudging.|
|Pickup rollers (quantity will vary based on number of trays)||Pickup rollers are used to pull sheets from the input tray to be fed through the printer.||The paper will not be picked up, or multiple sheets will be picked up at once.|
|Separation pads||Separation pads coincide with the pickup rollers and essentially push the paper in the right direction so it can pass through the printer smoothly.||The sheets of paper will not be aligned correctly, consistently causing paper jams and misfeeds.|
These are a few of the less common components that you may find in your kit:
|Component||What purpose does this serve?||What could happen if this is not maintained?|
|Corona assembly||The corona wiring within the printer provides the electrical charges to the drum, toner and paper.||Damage to the corona wires will virtually disable the printer as laser technology is based on electrical charges.|
|Fan assembly||The fan assembly provides a gentle current of air that keeps the paper flat when it enters the printer.||Paper can jam, get wrinkled or bunched up, and curl without a functioning fan assembly.|
Printers are designed to handle various volumes of daily tasks and each will have different maintenance intervals. Refer to your printer’s manual to find out the recommended cleaning cycle. Maintenance kits can be purchased directly from the manufacturer or from various online vendors. Using maintenance kits at the recommended time will extend the life of your printer and ensure the highest quality of prints.
Installing Xerox solid ink is a simple, straight-forward process that Xerox has made virtually error-proof. You would have to try hard to install solid ink sticks incorrectly, as it would often involve forcing them into place.
First, a quick synopsis of solid ink: Unlike with inkjet and laser printers, there are no cartridges involved in the printing process using solid ink. Rather, the ink is hardened and sculpted into a very specific shape during manufacturing. When printing, these ink sticks are melted into a liquid and applied to the paper, where they dry with true color and smooth texture. When the block of ink is completely consumed, there is no cartridge or other waste left behind.
So, how do you install solid ink?
Upon opening the flap on the top panel, you will notice four slots. Each slot has a slightly different shape that matches only the color intended for it. Additionally, each slot is color coded with a small image and a number that should match the number on the ink stick packaging.
To insert the ink stick, match the color and number with the appropriate slot. Align the notches of the stick with the corresponding notches of the slot. The ink sticks should drop right in. If the notches do not align or there is any resistance, you may be trying to insert the wrong color or the ink sticks may be intended for a different Xerox model.
This is short video from Xerox showing how to install solid ink sticks:
What many people do not realize about installing ink sticks is that the compartments are often designed to hold up to 4 ink sticks at a time. Some users prefer to install multiple sticks at once and print until the color has run out, while others opt to continuously top off the compartment so the “low ink” message is never displayed.
The convenience and simplicity of the solid ink printer is appealing to a number of offices, but it is the environmental benefit of using ink sticks that is truly enticing. Xerox estimates that those who switch from an inkjet or laser printer to a solid ink printer can reduce print-related waste by nearly 90%.
One of the major benefits of using solid ink is that it tends to be easier to install than inkjet or toner cartridges. Combined with the excellent print quality and reduced waste, it is surprising that more users have not made the switch.
If you have a perfectly good laser printer in your home or office that has been having some quality issues because it is dirty, you have three options. You can junk it and purchase a new machine, call a professional technician to come clean it thoroughly for you, or you can clean it yourself. Deep-cleaning a laser printer is not an easy task and will require time, effort and a few tools. However, it will save you money and extend the life of your machine.
Some of the basic tools you will need to have are latex gloves, cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol, a mask and newspaper that you can lie down to protect the floor. You will need to have a small brush, preferably an unused paintbrush with soft bristles. Cloths will be needed to wipe the loose particles away. Of course you can use standard cloths or paper towels, but there are special toner cloths designed to trap the toner particles so none become airborne. Toner particles in the air can get in your lungs and that could be dangerous (hence the mask). The primary tool you will need is a vacuum. It is recommended to use a toner vacuum that has a filter designed to keep particles in, but if you only have a standard vacuum, it will also work.
Always unplug your printer and it is advised to let it cool down for an hour or so before putting your hands inside a hot machine. Put on your protective gear (gloves and mask) and lay down the newspaper. You are ready to start cleaning. *WARNING* Check your warranty before cleaning to make sure doing your own maintenance does not void it!
Follow these steps:
- Remove the laser toner cartridge(s). Use a cloth to wipe down the cartridge and then set it on the newspaper so it does not leak toner onto your floor.
- Turn on your vacuum and put the hose in the open compartment. Be sure not to touch anything with the nozzle, just get close enough to suck up any dirt and loose particles.
- Use the brush to get loose toner particles out of the corners and crevices of the machine. Alternate with vacuuming while you do this.
- When you get to the corona wires, which are rather sensitive, use a cotton swab dampened with isopropyl alcohol to wipe the wires clean. These wires are very thin and located near the drum.
- Wipe the rollers with alcohol, as they can cause jams when dirty.
- Reinstall the cartridge, close the lid and plug the machine back in. Run a test page to make sure everything is working.
Be careful when using the cloth inside the printer as it could get ripped or pieces of fiber could get stuck and affect the print quality. To prolong the life of your printer, try to do this deep cleaning cycle once a year!
Printer drivers are the software that communicates with the printer, sending and receiving documents and data. You might think of the driver as a translator, translating the messages a computer sends into information that the printer understands, and vice versa. Without this translation, a computer and printer could not understand each other, and your toner cartridges would not be able to print anything.
Printers generally use a very stripped-down operating system that does not use the same programming language as a computer. Since different operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux all use different programming languages, printer drivers are often specially designed for each software platform as well. This is very important, as a driver designed for Mac OS X would not work properly on Windows.
Drivers vs. Software
Printer drivers are often confused with the printer software, such as the HP Toolbox software that pops up when printing to HP inkjet printers. Although the two are closely related, there are a few differences. The software is designed to provide enhanced features and options, but it relies on the driver to communicate with the printer itself. In some cases, the software and driver are installed together, but you may also find that they can be installed separately. The operating system can often function well with only the driver installed, but without the driver, the software will not work properly.
Finding and Installing a Printer Driver
The easiest and most common place to find the proper driver for your printer is the CD that came with the device. In most cases you can simply insert the disc and install the driver by following the onscreen prompts. The downside of using the disc is that it may contain older, outdated drivers, while newer updates may have been released.
For those with internet access, it is often better to find the most updated drivers from the manufacturer’s website. These can usually be found in the Support section under the Software or Downloads headings. Once you have found the proper driver for your device, download it, then double-click the downloaded file to start the installation process. Follow the onscreen prompts to complete the installation. For a more detailed steps, see Installing a Printer Driver.
When a printer driver fails there is often a communication error with the device. You may also find that the computer no longer lists the printer as an option. Both of these issues are common signs of a driver problem. It is often a good idea to uninstall and reinstall the most updated version of the drivers to resolve the issue.
- Click the Start button and choose Devices and Printers.
- Click Print Server Properties in the top bar.
- Click the Drivers tab and click to select the driver you wish to remove.
- Click Remove. You may be asked if you are sure. Click Yes.
The driver is an important part of the printing process. Without it, a computer and printer could not communicate with each other. Keeping your driver updated and knowing how to reinstall it when necessary can be an important troubleshooting step to help resolve any communication errors.
Here are some tips for avoiding these issues and printing envelopes more easily:
First and foremost, be sure you have a printer that supports printing on envelopes, such as the HP LaserJet 4200. Just putting an envelope in the standard paper tray and hoping for the best will rarely get you good results. If your printer is capable of printing on envelopes, it will usually have a specialty tray or a slot to manually feed the envelopes.
Use the internet or the user’s guide for your machine to determine the weight and size of envelopes your printer is capable of printing on, and which tray should be used. If the envelope is too thick, it may get jammed or wrinkled in the printing process. If the envelope is too big, it may not fit through the paper path.
If the envelopes are not of high quality, it is possible that the adhesive tab will be sealed by the heat used to fuse the toner to the page (laser printers only). If your envelopes are coming out of the printer already closed, you might need to find more durable envelopes to print on.
Verify that the alignment is properly set and make sure you select the correct envelope details, such as type and size of envelope. You can find a list of envelope styles and sizes here.
- Overload the envelope tray.
- Use envelopes that are too big for your machine.
- Put the envelopes in upside down or backwards.
TIP: If you are using thick envelopes that seem to have an issue making it safely through the curved paper path, some printers have the option of opening the back panel of the unit so the envelopes can take a straight paper path. Consult your printer’s documentation to find out if this is a feature of your device.