Archive for September, 2010
Weddings are expensive. There are no two ways about it, unless you plan to elope to the office of the Justice of the Peace. With hundreds of guests, the cost of food and drink,party favors, and decorations will quickly start to add up. At the end of it all, there is one happy couple and multiple depleted bank accounts. However, most people have printers in their homes, and this article will provide some tips on how to use that machine to save some money while planning a wedding.
Most local office supplies stores where you would find replacement ink and toner cartridges will sell kits of invitations and envelopes as well as note cards for RSVP in a range of different designs and prices. Instead of having these printed for you by an overpriced printing company, take the blank invitations and envelopes home to your printer. There are many templates that can be downloaded for free and various font options that will make your invitations look professional and elegant.
When your guests arrive at the wedding, they will need to know where to sit. You can change the settings of your printer to support ID card size paper so you can make the place cards. This can be as simple as typing every name on the blank card, or you can make it flashier. Word programs offer the ability to add ClipArt, shapes and even pictures (either from the internet or your personal collection). Another option is to download templates, such as those from the Martha Stewart collection, and simply print them to letter size paper and cut precisely.
This is really why people get married, right? You can use your printer to make t-shirts, buttons and even to print an image of the bride and/or groom. Maybe you can use the Rasterbator technology to print an over-sized image and everyone at the bachelorette party can sign it. You can print shirts or hats with funny sayings or personal quips that have meaning to only the closest of friends. You can print games to play. No reason to spend excessive money for this party when your printer gives you some unique and affordable options. Here is a tutorial demonstrating how to make personalized items at home:
These are just a few ideas for cutting costs for your wedding. Of course, the wedding is still likely to be expensive, but with these tips you have a way to trim down the budget while bringing out your creative side.
There are many different problems that crop up from time to time when printing, but one of the most frustrating is when a printer starts printing gibberish instead of the document or image you sent to be printed. Gibberish printing often looks like a random combination of letters, number, symbols, and other characters, which bear little or no resemblance to what you intended to print.
Gibberish printing is often caused by a communication error between the computer and the printer. This can be related to a bad connection, an improperly installed printer driver, or a driver that is designed for a different model.
Here are a few troubleshooting steps to try first:
Reset the Queue and the Printer
Double-click the printer icon in your system tray. Click any print jobs still in the queue, then cancel and delete them. Turn off the printer and then turn it back on. Print a test page to see if the issue is resolved.
Check for Loose Cables
Disconnect the cable that connects the printer to the computer or to the network, then reconnect it, making sure that it is firmly seated. Repeat this for both ends of the connection. In some cases, a loose cable can cause a communication problem. Print a test page to see if the issue is resolved.
Reinstall the Printer Driver
Many communication problems are caused by a printer driver that has become corrupt, or a leftover driver from a previous model that is not completely compatible. The best solution is to uninstall the current driver and install the proper driver for your machine.
Uninstall the Current Driver
- Click the Start button, and choose “Devices and Printers”. You will see a list of the printers that have been installed on your machine.
- Click the icon of the device to select it, then click “Print Server Properties” in the top toolbar.
- Click the “Drivers” tab, then click the driver that matches the name of your printer. For example, if you are using the Lexmark E210 model, select the heading that says “Lexmark E210″ or something similar.
- Click “Remove” to remove the driver, then click “OK” to continue.
Install the Proper Driver
- Visit your printer manufacturer’s website and navigate to the Support or Drivers section. Enter your model number to search for the current driver, then follow the instructions to download it.
- Navigate to the location of the saved driver file. The default is the Downloads folder, which can be accessed by clicking the Start button, clicking “Computer” and then choosing “Downloads” in the left pane.
- Double-click the driver file to begin the installation wizard, then follow the onscreen prompts to complete the installation. You may be asked to disconnect the printer during the process.
- Reconnect the printer if necessary, then try printing a document or test page.
With any luck, one of the above solutions will have resolved the problem, and you can now print normally. If you are still having trouble with your printer, it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer directly for support.
It is obvious that recycling is a good thing, yet so many people don’t do it. The extra effort is minimal considering the countless advantages. The environment is not the only thing that will benefit from recycling, and perhaps that is what so many Americans have failed to realize. Is Global Warming something to be concerned about? Sure. But if it is not affecting our present lives, many people are uninterested. Perhaps the solution is to understand the importance of recycling ink cartridges in a way that seems relevant to each individual.
A large percentage of people in the world have an inkjet printer. (Most personal and photo printers are of the inkjet variety, as laser printers are specifically designed for daily office use). Someone with average usage requirements for an inkjet printer will purchase 2-6 ink cartridges per year. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 ink cartridges are sold each year in the United States and only 20-30% of those are recycled. This equates to approximately 300-350 million ink cartridges made primarily of recyclable material that are thrown away like garbage.
Oil is important, right? It impacts the cost of the gas we use to get around. It is a political debate topic in elections. It is a factor in the wars we send our soldiers to. Well, each new ink cartridge is made with approximately 3.5 ounces of oil. So, in the gorgeous landfills that take up nearly 600,000 acres of American land, approximately 8.2 million gallons of oil is wasted every single year.
Ink cartridges are made of plastic, which can be reused over and over. Yet, every second in the USA about 13 ink cartridges are thrown in the garbage. If all ink cartridges were recycled and remanufactured, the cost of them would drop tremendously, probably by more than half the price. Rather than paying $35 for a replacement HP 96 ink cartridge, you would pay $9 for a remanufactured version. Additionally, some office supply companies will offer small in-store credits if you bring in your used ink cartridges to be recycled. THIS AFFECTS YOU DIRECTLY.
Approximately 1.8 billion cartridges have been wasted and there is nothing that can be done about that. But there certainly is something that can be done about that number of recyclable ink cartridges that will live in the landfills our children inherit. Recycle the ink cartridges you have and purchase remanufactured replacement ink cartridges. Share the knowledge you have gained here and endorse companies that offer recycling programs. It will make a difference.
Is mobile printing a hobby or a requirement? Answering this question is the first step in figuring out the right direction to take. If you enjoy taking pictures with your phone or handheld device and would love to have the ability to print an image occasionally, you might be better off loading software onto your device that will allow you to connect to a printer. However, if you have to print from your mobile device on a daily basis for work, it would make more sense to purchase a portable printer rather than having to search for a printer to connect with.
In general, there are three major components required for mobile printing: a mobile device, a connection, and a printer. Most of the time, the connection is wireless, often through Bluetooth and even occasionally via infrared on older models. Some photo printers offer a direct USB connection as well. The method you choose for printing from your handheld device should be contingent upon your needs and the capabilities of your devices.
These handheld devices are considerably smaller than laptops and other computers that have built-in printing capabilities in the operating system, thus containing less memory. Because of this, documents may need to be condensed in order to print properly. This is where printing applications come in handy. These applications will automatically search for available printers, condense your document as to not overwhelm the memory of the handheld device, and then print. The document may not be as crisp and clear as when printing from a PC, but it should be sufficient enough for the average user.
Technologies such as AirPrint (Apple products), ePrint (HP), and Cloud Print (Google) are supported by newer printers and handheld devices. AirPrint will automatically scan for compatible printers and allow users to print any document, image or webpage with the touch of one button. Cloud Print is similar, but requires a base computer that is on all the time if the printer does not support it natively. HP ePrint allows users to email documents and images directly to the address assigned to the printer. Check out this article for more in depth information about these technologies.
If you have a BlackBerry, you could install the PrintAnywhere application. To print using this app, you would have to compose an email from your phone, attach the document you want printed, and send the email to a fax machine by putting the fax number in the recipient box. This could be frustrating as you may not be near a fax machine when you need something printed. It is also frustrating because you have to pay a monthly fee for this app as well as a fee for each printed page.
If you are in a career that forces you to travel or constantly be in transit, investing in a portable printer, like the Canon PIXMA iP100, could be the best decision for you. Instead of seeking a printer every time you need to print a document, you can have one in your bag, car, or even your pocket. Most modern portable printers are compatible with mobile printing devices and applications. There are various types of portable printers on the market, so be sure to get one that can meet your size and color requirements.
Mobile printing can be limited in quality, speed and connection options, but also provides a luxury that was very rare just a few years ago. More and more machines are being designed to support printing from handheld devices and there are a number of applications that can be downloaded to help you get connected.
Solid ink technology is still relatively new to the printing industry, but is growing in popularity because these printers allow you to reduce waste and produce flawless color on standard paper. Xerox is currently the only manufacturer that produces this type of device, and they are not cheap. In the interest of getting the most life out of your solid ink printer, here are some maintenance tips.
Allow for Warm-Up Time
The Xerox solid ink used by these printers is melted to a liquid form to be applied to the page. This process may require an elongated warm-up time, especially when the machine has been sitting idle for a while. Your manual should have an estimated warm-up time for your device and the LED indicators or the control panel will tell you when the printer is ready.
Allow for Cool-Down Time
At the end of the day when all the daily printing tasks are complete and the printer is turned off, the ink slowly cools and hardens. It is especially essential that the machine has completely cooled before attempting to move a solid ink printer. If you move it while the solid ink is still in its melted, liquid state, the ink could spill and cause damage inside the unit. Additionally, it could spill out of the printer and burn the person who is moving it.
Storing and Installing Ink
Always keep solid ink in its packaging until it is ready to be installed and store it away from extreme heat or cold. When you are ready to install the solid ink, make sure the notches align with the slot you are inserting them into. There are colors and numbers marking the sticks and the slots, as well as specific shapes to each, so be sure to match them correctly. If you find yourself having to force the ink into a slot, chances are it is the wrong stick. Jamming the wrong ink stick into a slot could cause damage to the machine and poor quality prints.
Empty the Waste Tray
Your solid ink printer has a waste tray to catch excess ink and this must be emptied when the control panel alerts you that it is full. If you do not empty the tray when it is full, the printer will stop working. Consult your manual or head to the Xerox site for a walk-through of how to empty the waste tray. Keep in mind that solid ink is not toxic like some toner, so the tray can simply be dumped into the trash can.
Install a Maintenance Kit
Unlike maintenance kits for laser printers that include multiple printer components, Xerox maintenance kits for solid ink printers consist of a single roller. Over time, solid ink residue will begin to build up on the drum, which can cause quality issues. An error message should appear on the control panel when a new maintenance kit is needed. The roller is covered in silicone oil, which lubricates and cleans the drum.
These tips will not only keep your solid ink printer running for many years, but also producing top quality documents. These are simple tasks that just about anyone can perform, but if you run into any issues, contact Xerox for assistance.
Inkjet refill kits are sold at a number of locations online and in stores, but you should think twice before buying a refill kit just to save a few pennies. Before remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges were available, refilling your own cartridges was the only alternative to purchasing OEM products. But as inkjet technology has matured, third party manufacturers have started offering more affordable compatible and remanufactured cartridge alternatives. As a result, using refill kits has become a less desirable choice.
Because refilling an ink cartridge requires puncturing a hole in the cartridge to insert the needle that will inject the ink, it is easy to make a mess. You might miss the hole, overfill the cartridge or drop the bottle of ink. You could spill or have the needle come loose. So beware- your hands and clothes will most likely end up covered in excess ink. In addition, if you don’t properly seal the puncture hole, excess ink can leak into the printer and get all over your documents.
When you refill a cartridge multiple times, the residual ink from previous refills will start to diminish the overall quality of the ink and the printhead will not be able to accurately and efficiently apply the ink to the paper. In addition, if your printer uses thermal cartridges, the printhead is a part of the cartridge rather than part of the machine. After 2 or 3 refills, the printhead will start to show wear and tear, and print quality will suffer. One negative to using refill kits is the need to constantly monitor print quality, and eventually you will have to replace the cartridge.
Not knowing when the cartridge will need to be replaced could lead to being stuck without a cartridge when you really need one.
When reputable third party companies produce remanufactured cartridges, they do not use the ‘drill and fill’ method. They dismantle the cartridge so they can check and replace any worn components. Further, many third party manufacturers offer compatible new cartridges, which are made with brand new components. Compatible and remanufactured cartridges can save up to 50% or more over OEM products and are far more clean and reliable than using refill kits.
Considering the time and effort involved in trying to refill your cartridges yourself and the strong possibility of damaging your machine, clothes, carpet, etc., it may not be worth the small cost savings. In many cases, remanufactured and compatible cartridges are only slightly more expensive than refill kits and come with a satisfaction guarantee.
Okidata is one of the most renowned producers of office printers and multifunction devices. Oki machines are reliable workhorses, but nothing comes without some issues. The more current models will have an LCD screen that displays detailed error messages, such as “File transfer failure” or “paper jam”. But before technology advanced to this point, numeric codes were used to indicate the error.
Here is a list of some of the most common error codes that you may see on your Okidata printer and some helpful tips for fixing the problem:
Error Code: 001
An issue has occurred with the internal hardware in the printer (i.e. circuit board, processor). Because this code does not represent a specific error, it is recommended to call Oki Technical Support or take the machine to a local service center for diagnostics.
Error Code: 051
There is a fan inside the machine for the sole purpose of keeping the CPU, or processor, cool. This fan has stopped working. You can try restarting your machine to see if the fan resets itself, but if not, you will need to have the fan replaced.
Error Code: 71
The fuser, which uses heat to fuse the toner to the fibers of the paper, is not working properly and will need to be replaced. Though you can order a replacement fuser yourself, a service center should do the installation.
Error Code: 073
The area inside the printer that holds the Okidata toner cartridge(s) is giving an overrun-detect error. You may be able to fix this by loading a new printer driver. If not, contact Technical Support.
Error Code: 080
This parameter I/O code indicates an interface time-out of the primary controller board. Either the input area or output area can cause this to happen. Contact Technical Support for troubleshooting tips on this one.
Error Code: 102
Something has interfered with the reading or writing of the RAM (memory) during the start-up process. Restarting your machine should clear the memory and allow it to start up properly. Some stored data could be lost upon restart.
Error Code: 103
During the start-up process, the engine detected a problem with the static RAM (SRAM). This should be fixed simply by restarting the machine.
Error Code: 123
The humidity sensor has triggered an error because the humidity in the unit is not normal, or there has been a break in the connection. You can try reconnecting it (if you do not know how, call Technical Support), or you can replace the sensor.
Error Code: 124
The temperature sensor is detecting abnormalities. This could be an issue with the sensor, connection, or temperature inside the machine, which would indicate an overheating problem elsewhere. Contact Technical Support for help.
Error Code: 131-134
Something is wrong with the LED connectors. Connection may have been broken or the printer simply cannot detect it. The numbers (131-134) represent the different colored lights. Refer to your manual for specifics.
Error Code: 140-142
The drum that corresponds with the yellow, cyan, or magenta cartridge is not seated correctly. You will need to reseat the drum and cartridge. (140 – Yellow, 141 – Magenta, 142 – Cyan)
Error Code: 154
An issue has arisen with the printer belt, which serves to keep things aligned inside the machine. This could potentially be fixed by reconnecting or realigning the belt unit. If not, you may need to replace the belt entirely.
Error Code: 160-163
Each of these numbers represents a color of Okidata toner cartridge (refer to your manual to find out the pairings). This error could mean a number of things, so all you can do is verify the lock lever is secure and the cartridge is installed properly. If the error code continues to appear after you restart the Oki printer, contact Technical Support.
Error Code: 173
The temperature of the fuser is below what it needs to be to properly fuse the toner to the paper. You can try adjusting the fuser temperature, but most likely you will need to replace it. Leave this task to the professionals at a local service center.
Error Code: 181
The duplexer, which provides dual-sided printing, is not working properly. This is most often caused by a paper jam, so be sure to clear any paper that is stuck in the duplex unit. If the error continues to pop up, call Technical Support for more troubleshooting tips.
Error Code: 182
This error represents an issue with a paper tray. Usually the problem stems from a jammed piece of paper or an empty tray. Clear the paper jam or refill the paper and try printing again.
This collection of common Okidata error codes can help you to diagnose and possibly fix the problems you are having with your printer. Exercise caution when attempting repairs yourself, as you always run the risk of damaging the printer further when you adjust or replace internal components.
Two of the terms you may see often when shopping for a printer are “multifunction” printers (MFP) and “all-in-one” (AIO) devices. The terms are similar, and refer to printers that include additional features such as scanning, faxing, and copying. The main difference between the two is that the term “multifunction” is most often used for laser printers that use toner cartridges, and “all-in-one” is most often used for inkjet models that use ink cartridges. The main advantage of these devices is having multiple functions in one unit, keeping maintenance costs down and consolidating operations in one place.
Here are the most common features included in a multifunction or all-in-one machine:
While it might seem obvious, printing is usually the primary function that most users need in an all-in-one machine. When looking at a machine’s printing capabilities, the first thing to consider is whether it can print in color or only in monochrome. You should also look at its print speed, output quality, maximum resolution, the type of media it can handle, and its paper capacity.
Most multifunction and all-in-one machines include the ability to make copies. You should consider whether the device can make color copies, if required, and whether it supports features like reduction and enlargement. You should also pay attention to the machine’s rated copy speed to avoid a model that is too slow for your needs. Another important factor to consider is whether it includes an automatic document feeder for copying multiple pages in one batch, or whether it is limited to a flatbed scanning surface.
Scanning can be a very important function for offices that need to convert paper documents to digital on a regular basis. Some models, like the Brother MFC-7360n, come with OCR (optical character recognition) software that can convert paper documents to editable text in only a few steps. The maximum scanning resolution of the machine will dictate the quality of the documents, though anything higher than 600 dpi (dots per inch) is generally acceptable for office use. As with copying, buyers should consider whether the unit has an automatic document feeder or a flatbed scanner, or both. Modern machines often feature enhanced scanning capabilities like Scan-to-Email, which can save users a lot of time in a networked environment.
While fax machines are losing popularity and being replaced by email and other newer technologies, some users still need to be able to send and receive faxes. Having fax capabilities built into an all-in-one or multifunction machine eliminates the need for a separate fax machine with its own supplies to worry about, even if you only use it occasionally. Most modern devices support the Super G3 standard for fast transmission speeds, and offer a large page memory and multiple stored numbers for quick-dial access.
Another consideration when shopping for a multifunction device is whether it supports networking. An individual user may be happy with a device with a single USB cable, but multi-user environments can benefit from a machine that includes an ethernet port for wired networking or support for Wi-Fi, which allows the device to be shared among multiple computers without wires.
Finding the right printer is all about understanding your specific needs, and choosing a model that meets your requirements as well as your budget. All-in-one and multifunction machines can often meet multiple requirements, and are much more cost-effective to purchase and to maintain than buying separate machines for each function.
Do you know exactly what you are looking for in a printer but cannot decide which brand to purchase? With so many manufacturers constructing various types of printers that have similar qualities, it can be a difficult decision. Should you get the least expensive option? Should you get the one with the most recognizable brand name?
The purpose of this article is to provide facts and opinions gathered from thousands of consumers and experts so you are able to make an informed decision about which printer to buy.
Which manufacturer consistently makes the best printers? Would you invest in something made by a company with poor overall reviews, even if you find one product that seems flawless? The chart below shows ratings based on the most important elements of different types of printers: inkjet, laser, photo, business and all-in-one machines.
|Print Speed||Text Quality||Photo/Graphic Quality||Copy Speed||Design||Operation Noise||Networking|
★★★= above average; ★★= average; ★= below average
Based on these results, you should be able to gauge which manufacturer is the best for your particular needs. This next chart is to give you an idea of the overall reliability and the frequency of problems. Higher ratings are better in each category.
|Immediate Issues||Significant Issues||Severe Issues||Overall Reliability|
★★★= above average; ★★= average; ★= below average
From these charts, you can be the judge of the best printer manufacturer. Brother seems to have the best ratings overall, but Brother printers seems to suffer slightly in the quality department. Canon offers the best quality, but you will have to wait for it. HP is average in both departments, but lacks consistent reliability. Epson is the only manufacturer that is average or above across the board, but considerably less Epson printers are sold each year than many other manufacturers, so issues may go unreported.
So, who makes the best printers? Hopefully the information provided has helped you come to that conclusion based on the elements you find to be the most important.