Archive for the ‘Printing FAQ’ Category

Will Using Compatible Cartridges Void a Manufacturer Warranty?

Cartridge BlockedIt is a common concern when consumers are deciding whether or not to use remanufactured or compatible cartridges for a printer if the warranty implemented by the manufacturer upon purchase will be voided.  Though customer service representatives at these major companies may try to bully consumers into believing the warranty only covers the use of brand-name products, in fact it is illegal.

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Troubleshooting Inkjet Printers

Troubleshooting PrinterInkjet printers are mainly designed for home use, which means that when problems arise, you don’t have a technical support team at your beck and call. In many cases, you can contact the manufacturer for support, but there are a number of common troubleshooting steps you can try first to see if you can resolve the issue on your own. Most problems fall into a number of common categories, and often a few simple steps can get you back up and running. Here are some troubleshooting steps to try before you contact support for further help:

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Brother Toner too Small?

The reason people frequently ask about changing Brother toner cartridges is because this brand of printer is unique in the way it is set up inside.  Standard laser printers have a panel to open that leads directly to the cartridge, which can simply be pulled out of the printer and a new cartridge can easily be installed.  What makes Brother printers different is that the drum unit and the cartridge are together in one assembly rather than two separate units like in most laser printers.

For consumers who have owned HP or Lexmark printers in the past, it can be confusing at first glance of a Brother cartridge that snaps into the drum assembly rather than a slot in the machine.  Once it is explained that the drum and cartridge fit together in the assembly, the replacement process is pretty easy.  Use these simple steps to replace your Brother toner cartridge.

  1. Be sure the machine is completely off.
  2. The assembly has a handle that should be visible as soon as the front panel is opened, pull on it and the assembly should pull right out.
  3. Be sure to lay down something to protect the floor from potential toner leaking.  Be careful to not touch the drum as it is sensitive.
  4. There will be a small lever that needs to be pushed to separate the cartridge from the drum.
  5. Put the new cartridge in the open slot, but be sure all shipping seals and packaging have been removed.
  6. The cartridge will snap into the assembly and the assembly will snap into the unit (be sure you listen for the ‘click’).
  7. Close the panel and turn the machine on, it should automatically read the new cartridge and resume printing immediately.

If there is still some confusion as to the proper way to replace a Brother toner cartridge, watch the video below for a better understanding.

Beware Printer Firmware Updates!

Printer manufacturers occasionally issue firmware updates that are typically publicly available via the company website.  These updates typically provide the ability to load new and improved features to your dated machine.  Firmware updates can also fix problems with existing functions and expand compatibility for software and OS upgrades.

BEWAREBuyer Beware

Not All Firmware Upgrades Are Created Equal.

In January, our office received this notice from a trusted vendor: Continue reading “Beware Printer Firmware Updates!” »

Cartridge Not Recognized?

If you’ve been using OEM cartridges in your inkjet or laser printer and have recently replaced those with remanufactured or compatible products, you may be receiving an error message telling you that the new cartridge is not recognized, or that the cartridge is empty, even though you know it is full. Don’t panic!  This just means your printer is having trouble reading the chip on the new cartridge.  Generally, doing a “Cold Start” will clear the issue right up. We created this video to demonstrate the process for you:

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Lines on Prints

Are lines showing up on your printouts that shouldn’t be there?

The size, color and number of lines showing up per printed page will vary, though it will create the same level of stress!  Stay calm, though, the solution might be easier than you think.

For inkjet printers, there are really only two components that could be causing these lines.


  • Run the cleaning utility software provided by the manufacturer then print a test page.
  • If lines are still present, you will need to manually clean the printhead then print a test page.

Ink Cartridge

  • Once you are sure the printhead is as clean as it can be, check the ink level of the ink cartridges.  If they are low, replace them.
  • If the ink cartridges are full, you most likely have a defective cartridge.  Contact your manufacturer.

Laser printers are a bit more complicated as there are a number of components involved in laser technology and any one of them can cause quality issues.Parts of a laser printer

Corona Wire

  • Carefully clean the corona wire located inside the imaging drum.  Make sure it is put back into place once it has been cleaned and print a test page.


Pitfalls of Inkjet Refill Kits

Ink SpillInkjet 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. Continue reading “Pitfalls of Inkjet Refill Kits” »

What is MICR Toner?

MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition and is a technology used mainly by banks.  The process was developed as a way for machines to read sequences of numbers that are also readable by humans.  The system is used on almost every check and deposit slip, as a sequence of numbers running along the bottom left.  The first number is most often the bank’s routing number, while the second number is the customer’s account number.

This is a frequently asked question because many people who are looking for standard toner will come across an option to get standard or MICR toner and want to clarify the difference.  MICR toner cannot be used in a regular printer that produces text documents or images- it is specifically designed for printing checks.  Once again, MICR toner WILL NOT work in standard printers.

MICR uses a specific type of toner that usually includes iron oxide, which can be magnetized by the machine reading the numbers, in a process very similar to a magnetic tape recorder.  Each character is easily identified by the system, even when there is an obstruction, such as a stamp, pencil mark, etc.  Each character creates a very different waveform when being scanned, so they are easily recognized by the machine.MICR

The system uses two very specific fonts, known as E-13B and CMC-7.  These fonts contain only numbers and a few other symbols which represent different banking terms such as transit and account number.  There are no letters included in the MICR system. Continue reading “What is MICR Toner?” »

Warranty Information for OEM Printer Cartridges

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. Continue reading “Warranty Information for OEM Printer Cartridges” »

Light Printing on One Side of Paper

If your printer is starting to distribute ink unevenly on your pages; the most obvious reason would be a low level of ink or toner.  However, before replacing the cartridge or calling a repair person, there could be other reasons that are causing these problems.  If you have an inkjet printer, see the first paragraph below for trouble shooting options.  If you own a laser printer, see the second paragraph for troubleshooting.

Print light on one side

Inkjet Printers:

·         Ink cartridge low on ink -Your first step in troubleshooting this particular problem is to check the ink level in your ink cartridge.  You may be tempted to skip this step if you think you have not used the ink cartridge enough for it to be low on ink; however, check it anyway.  If it is low and you know you have not come close to using the total yield page for the cartridge, the cartridge itself may be faulty.  Replacing it will certainly fix your problem. Continue reading “Light Printing on One Side of Paper” »