Archive for September, 2011
When researching a printer, you may have noticed the term “duty cycle” mentioned along with other terms like speed and printer resolution. The duty cycle refers to the number of pages that can be printed in a certain period of time without potentially causing problems and failures. This number is often given as a maximum monthly duty cycle.
For example, a business printer might have a maximum monthly duty cycle of 20,000 pages. This means that printing more than 20,000 pages in a single month is beyond the recommendation of the manufacturer, and could cause the machine to exhibit problems or even fail. While the maximum monthly duty cycle is a guideline, is it by no means a guaranteed number of prints, and users should not be surprised if issues start to arise long before that number of prints has been reached.
Recommended Duty Cycle
Experts in the printing industry suggest purchasing a unit that has a maximum monthly duty cycle that is double the standard amount of prints users are estimated to produce. For example, if you print an average of 400 pages per day, multiply this times 30, and you get 12,000 prints per month. It would be a good idea to find a machine with a maximum monthly duty cycle of at least 24,000 pages. An even higher duty cycle is recommended for even more durability, as long as your budget allows it.
These duty cycles are not provided to limit productivity, but rather to prevent users from overusing a printer and ultimately damaging a piece of office equipment that would otherwise be durable. They also make a good comparison number when choosing a printer, as those with higher numbers will be more able to handle higher printing volumes. Make sure to pay attention to the monthly and recommended duty cycles when searching for a new printer, and stay close to the recommended average duty cycle in order to keep your machine running as long as possible.
There are nearly 2 billion ink cartridges sold each year, with an estimated 350 million ending up in landfills. This is not only harmful from the perspective of the extra waste in landfills, but also in that it takes up to 5 ounces of oil to manufacture a new cartridge. By recycling your ink and toner cartridges, you can not only keep them from ending up in a landfill, but also contribute to remanufacturing programs that can help eliminate much of the waste involved in manufacturing brand new cartridges.
A number of different organizations and even printer manufacturers themselves offer programs that make it easy for users to recycle their empty cartridges, and some can even help you contribute to charity as you do it. Here are a few recycling programs you can take advantage of:
Cartridges for Kids and Other Charities
The Cartridges for Kids program not only recycles cartridges, cell phones, and other electronics, but allows schools and organizations to earn money for each item donated. Organizations can visit the site to find enrollment instructions, then spread the word around the community. Check with your favorite charity to see if they offer a similar program as a fundraiser.
Many office stores such as Staples and Office Depot provide recycling programs right inside the store. This is one of the most convenient options, as shoppers can simply return them without the need for mailing labels and trips to the post office. Many of these programs even reward buyers with cash that can be used to purchase replacements.
Ink Technologies offers our own recycling program for toner cartridges, but you will need at least 8 empty cartridges at a time to take advantage of it. After filling out the form, you will receive a bag with a return label for shipping.
Most manufacturers such as HP, Epson, and Xerox have recycling programs available as well. Some provide credit toward new cartridges when you send in your empty ones for recycling. Unfortunately, you will often be paying more when purchasing directly from the manufacturer. Check your printer manufacturer’s website for a recycling page.
Millions of reusable cartridges are dumped into landfills or incinerated each year. These can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, making them quite a burden on the environment. Recycling is therefore very important, and remanufactured cartridges made from recycled cartridges are available at much lower costs, providing users a lower-cost alternative.
One of the most common issues to crop up when printing is “ghosting” or “ghost printing”. Essentially, ghost printing is when the printed page contains an extra, lighter version of the main image. This can often look like a lighter stencil of the original image. If you find that you are experiencing ghosting in your prints, there are a few things to try:
Check the Drum
If you are using a laser printer, damage to the drum can cause ghost printing issues. If the electrical charge on the drum is uneven, it can cause the toner particles to be attracted in an erratic pattern. If the cartridge includes the drum, replace the cartridge to see if it improves print quality. If the drum is a separate part, replace it.
Check the Paper
Whether you are using an inkjet or laser printer, make sure you are using paper that is designed for your type of printer. Paper designed for a laser printer may have poor results when used with an inkjet model, and vice versa. Check the label to ensure that your paper was designed for use in your printer. Also consider purchasing the right type of paper and printing a few test pages to see if it resolves the ghost printing issue. If you suspect the ghosting is related to only one paper path, you can also try Troubleshooting Paper Path Issues.
Set the Correct Paper Size and Type
When printing, the print setup screen usually appears, allowing you to choose options such as quality, page scaling, and more. Make sure you choose the correct media size and type for the paper that is loaded into the printer. If the computer is set to 8.5×14 inch paper but 8.5×11 inch paper is loaded into the tray, it can cause a number of output problems, including ghost printing.
Align the Print Heads
If you are using an inkjet printer, you can try aligning the print heads. Over time, the heads that produce the difference colors can go out of alignment with each other, and ghost printing is one of the potential problems that can result from this issue. When you are in the Print Settings menu, choose the Utility tab, and choose Print Head Alignment. You can then follow the instructions on the screen to complete the alignment process.
Some all-in-one models provide a print head alignment process right from the control panel. This video demonstrates the process for the HP C7280 model:
These steps should help you resolve your ghost printing issues. If you continue to have problems, you may need to contact the manufacturer or take your printer to a repair shop for further diagnostics.
Ethernet is a networking standard that was designed to simplify communication and data transferring for an office environment. Previous connection options, such as parallel and USB ports would limit machines to single-user capabilities. Ethernet opens the door for multiple users to share a printer, among other things, thus saving the company ample space and time. A standard ethernet interface is compatible with all major operating systems but will require the right wiring and hardware.
Users that are within a small area can use a LAN, which is a local area network. This allows them to send and receive data through the network but requires a central hub or switchboard. “Packets” of data are sent along the ethernet connection line. This data is delivered by the main hub, but pushed by passive machines to be distributed to the proper place.
Networking is the main addition that ethernet can provide to an office, both in data transfers and in shared printers, such as in the Dell 5110CN in which networking is represented by the ‘N’ in the model number. Rather than every PC being connected to an individual printer, networking allows an office to have a central printer, or even multiple central printers. Ethernet cabling connects the printer to the same hub that all of the computers in the office are connected to. Thus, every connected computer can share the printer. Users can then choose which printer to send a document to, possibly choosing different printers for different types of tasks.
The average ethernet found in the majority of small offices and homes is 10Base-T interface, which has the ability to send 10 megabits of data per second. This pace should appease the needs of most low-volume users. However, offices that require fast-paced transmissions should consider the 100Base-T ethernet interface. This works at 10 times the speed of the original option. Newer protocols such as Gigabit Ethernet can provide even faster speeds. Whichever speed suits you better, networking can be a crucial addition to the efficiency and overall productivity of an office.
Here is a more detailed explanation of ethernet:
Every inkjet printer, whether it uses thermal or piezoelectric technology, has cartridges that hold water-based ink, printheads and nozzles that apply the ink to the paper. In piezoelectric technology, which is an Epson patent, a pocket full of piezo-ceramic material (crystals) resides near the back of each printhead. When a job is sent to the printer, a voltage gives the aforementioned material a charge and causes the crystals to expand and vibrate, ultimately forcing droplets of ink out of the nozzles and onto the paper.
This system is very similar to the far more common thermal inkjet technology, which uses heat rather than vibration to push the ink out. Because no heat is used in the piezoelectric inkjet printers, the types of ink that can be used is more extensive than thermal inkjet printers. Unfortunately, because this technology is not as widely used, the ink prices tend to be higher than those of standard inkjet cartridges.
Both types of inkjet printers can generate professional-quality images and documents, but the type of ink that can be used in some Epson photo printers, known as Archival Ink, has proven to be better than the standard ink when long-term durability is needed. Archival ink can resist water and light damage for up to 100 years and maintain vivid colors rather than fading over time. The protective resin coat makes this type of ink more durable, and its impressive color gamut keeps photos true to the original image.
So, if you are someone who requires long-lasting photo printing, piezoelectric inkjet models like the Epson Stylus Photo 700 might be worth considering. For most users, however, the lower prices and lower running costs of typical thermal inkjet models may be a better choice.
A Personal Area Network, or PAN, is a small network made up of only a few devices, usually two. It is designed to provide simple communication between a limited number of devices without the interference that often comes with larger networks.
Many users are familiar with the term Local Area Network, or LAN. This type of network is often made up of several, or even hundreds, of devices, all communicating with each other. A personal area network takes a smaller approach. Instead of plugging a smart phone into a computer with a cable, for example, a PAN is created so that the two devices can communicate exclusively with one another.
Personal area networks often center around the needs of one device. For example, a smartphone creates a PAN when it needs to sync information with a computer. A PAN can actually be either wired or wireless, but the label is most often applied to wireless connections.
The two most common protocols for PAN communication are Bluetooth and infrared. Both of these protocols have a fairly limited range, which makes them ideal for a connection between a few devices in close proximity. Compared to Wi-Fi, which may have multiple devices within transmission range competing for frequencies, these protocols can limit access to a shorter range for a stronger connection with less interference.
Another interesting twist on PAN technology is a system referred to as Skinplex. This technology can only reach devices within a 3 feet range, but uses human skin to transmit data. It is the newest kind of personal area network, but has already been used in automatic door locks and automobiles with convertible roofs.
When you connect a smartphone to a computer via Bluetooth, or connect a digital camera to a printer via infrared, you are using a personal area network. One of the major benefits of the technology is that it is so simple to use that most people don’t even realize they are using it at all, but instead are just performing simple, everyday tasks with their devices.
A new and innovative development has recently been introduced into the world of laser printing by a company known as Print Recovery Concepts, Inc. Though known mostly for being a vendor of affordable, third party toner cartridges in the past, they now offer toner that comes from soy beans rather than the typical oil-based product. Though soy ink has been around for a while, this is one of the first instances of soy toner, but it certainly will not be the last.
Though a good alternative to OEM cartridges, do not expect the SoyPrint products to be as affordable as other alternatives are, namely remanufactured cartridges. These are considerably less expensive than other options because they are made from previously-used and recycled cartridges. The toner will not be quite as eco-friendly as the soy toner, but the remanufactured option is a way to be environmentally-friendly as well as budget-friendly.
In the United States of America alone, businesses, schools and government establishments consume nearly 100 million toner cartridges every single year. According to howstuffworks.com, about 50,000 tons of petroleum are used to make brand-name toner cartridge each year. Not only is this detrimental to the environment, but landfills fill up with waste that is made of harmful oils. Perhaps soy printing could be a solution to this growing problem.
SoyPrint toner is made in the United States and is said to produce the same quality documents, the same amount of prints per cartridge and cause no harm to the laser printer, according to the President of Print Recovery Concepts. In fact, few people realize that newspapers have been printing for 15 years with soy ink and soy toner. One may think these alternative toners would be overly expensive, but they are priced at around the same price as oil-based, OEM versions.
Soy printing may be a very environmentally-friendly option, but its high price doesn’t offer a savings over OEM versions. For a less expensive, but still fairly eco-friendly option, remanufactured cartridges are available. Although they use the same chemicals in toner as standard laser printer cartridges, the fact that they are made from recycled cartridges still makes them a great way to help the environment and reduce landfill waste.
A life on the move can be grueling, so it is helpful to have portable electronics to simplify tasks that may be otherwise difficult. We all know you cannot fly from New York to Utah with your computer tower and monitor, but laptops will fit beneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Why should this convenience be limited to computers?
Many people do not know portable business printers even exist, as the market for this type of device is not nearly as big as mobile photo printers. However, if you are a person who frequently stays in hotels or has a job that requires a lot of time spent in your vehicle, a portable business printer is invaluable.
Perhaps you just delivered a truck-full of product to a company and a few boxes were damaged so you need to print a revised invoice. Maybe you took the red-eye flight to get to an early meeting in San Antonio and need to print the notes for your speech but the hotel doesn’t have a printer. These are just a few scenarios that may call for a portable document printer.
Speeds for portable printer models are significantly slower than a standard desktop printer, as to be expected, with each page taking about 5 to 10 seconds to print. The overall quality is also sacrificed a bit in the way of portability, averaging 300 dpi and maxing out at 600 dpi. However, the documents will still be crisp and clear enough for everyday use.
The top portable printers:
- Fit into a small suitcase or a laptop bag.
- Can be charged in a car.
- Connect wirelessly through Bluetooth.
- Weigh less than 10 pounds.
There are basically two classes of mobile office printers- those that focus more on portability and those that sacrifice some portability for better quality printing. This can be illustrated better in a comparison of the Brother PocketJet 6 Plus and the HP OfficeJet 100.
The Brother PocketJet 6 Plus is 10 inches long, 2 inches wide and weighs just a few pounds. It looks like a laptop battery and can literally fit in your pocket, which is a unique feature but also a limiting one. The slot for feeding thermal paper only takes a single sheet and requires you to feed it by hand. The Brother 6 Plus also only prints in monochrome, meaning black-and-white only. However, for quickly printing a business document on the fly, it is a convenient solution.
The HP OfficeJet 100, on the other hand, is a bit bulkier. Though it won’t fit on your person, it will fit comfortably in a suitcase. This machine has color printing capabilities and a paper tray that holds up to 50 sheets. The speed and quality of the HP OfficeJet 100 will be better than the Brother PocketJet, but less convenient for travelers. This machine requires inkjet cartridges, whereas the Brother does not because it prints exclusively on thermal paper.
Either class of portable printer will be sufficient for document printing and a reliable companion on the road. The type you choose should be based on your preferences and needs.
Having backup toner readily available in the office is not a necessity but it is certainly recommended. Especially in offices that print frequently and blow through cartridges quickly, keeping reserves on hand will eliminate the possibility of running out completely. Toner cartridges range in print capacity and cost, but all will come with an expected page yield so you have an idea of how many pages can be printed before replacements will be necessary. This is really important information.
Another way to keep tabs on the remaining life of a cartridge is by printing a statistics page. This can often be accessed through a computer, but most can simply print the information by navigating the menu of the actual printer. Find the options for maintenance, supplies or status information and select the statistics page, which will look something like this HP LaserJet P3005 example:
If you do lose track of the status of your cartridge, warning messages will pop up on your printer LCD when toner is running low. At this time, if you do not have backup toner, you should order replacements. If you already have backup cartridges, though, you don’t need to do anything until the print quality begins to be affected by the nearly empty cartridges.
When you purchase a set of replacement cartridges, typically the more you buy at one time, the higher the discount level you will receive. Additionally, many vendors provide reduced shipping costs for large orders. And don’t worry about letting the cartridges sit on the shelf for a while as they are designed to have extended shelf lives. Just be sure you are rotating the oldest cartridges to the front.
Offices that do a high volume of printing should be especially aware of the importance of having backup toner. Running out of toner completely and being unable to print at all would be catastrophic, so doesn’t it make more sense to have a shelf full of cartridges ready to keep production moving?
Photo printers have been around for a long time, and the ability to print lab-quality photos is certainly nothing new. As inkjet photo printers evolve, however, new features help to make them easier to use, and provide functionality that you may not have even dreamed was possible a few years ago. Here are some of the top features you should look for in a modern photo inkjet printer.
A few years ago, many homes had a single desktop computer connected directly to a single printer. As laptops and mobile devices become increasingly popular, and most family members have their own laptop, wired connections are no longer convenient. Most modern printers offer support for Wi-Fi, and can be easily integrated into your existing wireless network, to be made available to any device that connects to your network.
Users who have a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet often need a way to print, but may have found the process to be difficult to use or even impossible, as older printers often don’t provide adequate solutions. Newer devices come with support for Apple’s AirPrint, Google Cloud Printing, and other protocols that can make printing from tablets and smartphones as simple as a few taps on the screen. Once set up, these protocols can often enable printing from just about any app on the device.
Many modern photo printers have large, full-color touchscreen displays that make it much easier to navigate menus and access features. The best of these use web-enabled features to allow you to download apps and accomplish a number of tasks quickly and easily. With HP’s ePrintCenter feature, for example, you can download apps that let you browse and print photos from your Facebook or Flickr account, or browse templates for things like graph paper and Sudoku puzzles. This all happens right from the printer’s control panel, without the need to go to a computer.
This feature allows users to send a document, photo, or web page to a unique email address, and have it begin printing automatically, or added to a queue for later access. This means that any device that is capable of sending email can submit a document for printing, without any tedious setup process. Imagine sending photos from your road trip directly to your grandmother’s email-enabled photo printer and having them automatically printed. No computer is required, and no proprietary protocols are needed.
The common thread between each of these features is that they represent a way to make printing photos and documents easier, and to take advantage of wireless technology to integrate multiple devices together. The fact that most of these features weren’t around as little as a few years ago is a testament to how quickly technology evolves. When you are considering your next photo inkjet printer, keep these features in mind, and you can take advantage of exciting new ways of printing and sharing your favorite photos from almost any device.