What is an OPC Drum?

OPC DrumWhat is an OPC drum?

OPC standards for Organic Photo Conductor Drum.  The OPC drum is a long piece of metal with a cylinder shape and a delicate outer coat, typically green, blue or red.  These drums can be found in many laser printers, such as the HP LaserJet 1320. They offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to older photoreceptors that were labeled hazardous.

So what does an OPC drum do?

OPC drums help electrical conduction, meaning they serve as a receiver of the negative charge needed to transfer the toner to the paper.  In laser printing, different electrical charges are given to different components to attract them to each other, such as the toner and the drum.  The drum has an aluminum substrate that allows it to hold these charges, temporarily attracting the toner powder to it before transferring it to the page. Each drum has three coating layers that serve different purposes and are all made from environmentally-friendly, biodegradable materials.

UCL (Undercoat Layer): This layer serves as a glue between the aluminum and inner-most layer.

CGL (Charge Generation Layer):  This is a thin layer, 50 times thinner than an average piece of hair, that aids in the print speed and determines the color of the drum.

CTL (Charge Transport Layer): The outer, transparent layer of coating that allows the laser to strike through the CGL.  This will define the acceptance of electrical charge and ultimately the life of the drum, as it is exposed to the elements, including paper, rollers and toner.

How to care for an OPC drum?

First and foremost, it is important to know that OPC drums are very easy to damage.  Do not touch it with your fingers or expose it to bright lights.  It is highly recommended that you purchase a replacement rather than attempting to clean it yourself.  If you choose to try cleaning it, do so in a dimly lit, temperate area and do not use oils or other cleaning products.  When the OPC drum starts to get worn, prints will be lighter.  If it is damaged with a scratch, for instance, printed pages will start having black marks on them.

Though it is not commonly discussed in the printing process, an OPC drum is an important component in laser printing technology.  It serves as an electrical conductor and is essential for transferring toner powder to the paper properly.

Robyn Warner
Robyn Warner has been writing since she learned how to hold a pen. She wrote her first book of poems before the age of 10. Though creative writing is her preference, she is enjoying life in the technical blog world. Robyn’s goal in her 30s is to use her writing to inspire fellow cancer survivors and have a job that gives her the flexibility to live anywhere and never wear shoes.

2 Responses to “What is an OPC Drum?”

  • lasertek:

    So OPC drum are essential for the printer tow work well huh? Hmm… So how do I know if it already needs a replacement? Of course, I do not want to compromise the printing quality of my printer.

    • inktechnologies:

      Thanks for the feedback. In regards to your question every printer is different. Some of them have the OPC drum in the toner cartridge. When you change the toner cartridge you are in fact changing the OPC drum at the same time. Other printers have the OPC drum in a transfer roller or transfer drum. These units typically last 3-5 times longer than the toner cartridge and do not need to be replaced as often. The best idea is to refer to your owner’s manual to see how to determine the life of the OPC Drum.