Archive for the 'Troubleshooting' Category

What is a Toner Cartridge?

Toner is a reasonably familiar substance to most people working in offices or for companies that have office photocopy machines and big industrial printers. These machines inevitably use toner to form images and text onto a sheet of media, usually being a plain white piece of paper. In other words the toner acts with the same purpose ink has, although ink is an aqueous solution whereas toner is in the form of powdery, dust-like solids. And due to the fact toner is a powder, cartridges should not be shaken as the material can spread through the air and adhere to unwanted surfaces, permanently dying them. Before handling any toner cartridge, make sure you are aware of the potential dangers and health risks involved with these units by clicking here.

In its early form, toner was a mix of carbon powder, iron oxide, and sugar. Eventually, to improve the quality of the printout, the carbon was melt-mixed with a polymer. The polymer is a thermoplastic that now comprises about 40 to 95 percent of the toner mixture and is crucial to binding and carrying colorant to the drum unit and substrate. The polymer is often referred to as the “binder” being able to hold the toner powder mixture together, carrying the powder to the transfer belt or drum unit, and holding the mixture in place for the heated fuser rollers to bind the powder to the paper with heat and pressure.

To better understand this process, let’s take a look at the different components that make up a toner cartridge and their functions. A basic toner cartridge contains several parts; one common component in each cartridge is the hopper which houses the toner powder until being picked up by a magnetic developer roller. The magnetic developer roller is a cylindrical sleeve used to transfer image forming toner powder particles to an image forming drum unit. This roller protrudes partially into the hopper and has several magnetic beads inside that will attract the toner powder mixture from the hopper to the roller during the printing process. As this piece rolls, the picked up toner is brushed against the drum unit.

The drum unit, having a greater static attraction, will once again pull the toner powder but this time from the magnetic developer roller. Any excess powder on the developer roller will be scrapped off with an MDR Doctor Blade before passing by the drum unit. The MDR Doctor Blade is a precision leveling blade that is designed to keep only one layer of toner powder on the developer roller. This ensures more evenly distributed toner and helps to prevent the drum and toner cartridge from clogging. The magnetic developer roller also has a secondary blade, known as the MDR Sealing Blade, to clean off any powder left on the surface of the roller after passing by the drum and before rotating back into the hopper section.

The drum unit itself is sometimes included with the toner cartridge in 2 in 1 or all inclusive toner cartridges. And whether the drum unit is a separate unit or has been included with the toner cartridge, the drum serves the same purpose. The drum is a photoconductive cylinder that contains a laser neutralized image of the project about to be printed out. A laser will actually neutralize parts of the drum unit, based off the desired image about to be printed. The neutralized parts of the drum will not be able to attract toner, which is how the drum forms an image, only being able to attract toner where desired on the image. Once the drum unit has picked up the toner powder from the developer rollers, the unit will then transfer them immediately to the paper substrate passing through the machine.

To keep the drum unit charged, a primary charge roller inside the toner cartridge rests against the unit, recharging the drum and eliminating neutralized areas of the unit. The drum also has a cleaning blade know as the Organic Photoconductor Wiper Blade. Any extra toner left on the surface of the drum unit after transferring the powder to the paper will be scrapped of by the wiper blade into the waste container. The last part to creating a printout involves the fuser rollers and some assisting transfer rollers that drive the media through the machine and are usually separately sold components that do not need to be exchanged as frequently as toner cartridges or even drum units.

All these components are necessary pieces to having a functional toner cartridge that can produce images onto a piece of paper using pigmented polymers, colorants, and carbons as the ink or image forming material being adhered to media. The current laser toner cartridge powders are comprised of a mixture of colorant pigments, external additives, and wax substances in addition to the binding polymers. The external additives can be iron oxide molecules, chemical release agents, charge control agents, and flow agents all designed to keep the mixture at optimal functioning compositions. Many toners now have protective wax coatings encapsulating each toner powder particle for longer lasting printouts and resistances to smudging and blurring.

Ink or Toner?

Ink and toner share many similar aspects, both being able to administer color and black pigment onto media forming specified characters and integrated images that make up a printout. Each is comprised of three main elements, a vehicle, a pigment, and a holding cell. Both laser printers and inkjet printers also come in a variety types from All-In-One devices, being able to print, scan, copy, and fax, to monochrome machines that were designed to handle black and white or grayscale only printouts. These machines can be used for the same purposes, having the ability to complete nearly any type of printout, although toner and ink have distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of printing you are performing. To help better understand which type of printer will be more beneficial, we have to first understand to main properties of ink and toner.

Printing ink is a liquid or paste based solution used to create shapes and patterns onto the substrate. The liquid solution is housed in a reservoir within the cartridge until being forced to the release chamber(s). Once inside the release chambers an impulse will trigger a reactive element embedded to the chamber to forcibly jet out or drop the pigment through a nozzle and out onto the media. The reaction will also force new droplets into the chamber for rapid reproduction.

Toner is a type of concentrated pigment or dye-based powder used in laser printers to complete the electrophotographic process. The powder is stored within the cartridge compartment known as the hopper. The powder in the hopper is a carbon-based polymer that will attract and repel from particular static electrical charges which is the key to applying the powder to the substrate. A transfer roller will pick up the oppositely charged toner particles from the hopper and roll the particles against an imaging drum unit that has an even greater opposite electrical charge. The laser printer will create a light impression on the drum successfully creating a magnetic impression for the toner to attract to. Once the toner is placed onto the media, a pair of fusing rollers will actually melt the powder into the page to create the desired images.

There are three main properties to consider when choosing whether to print with toner or ink, including how they dry, the structural design, and the optical output. With a laser toner printer, the fusing rollers will burn the toner that has been layered on the substrate to adhere the particles to the page. Inkjets will apply an ink solution that rapidly dries being exposed to the room temperature air. The speed at which the ink will dry varies, depending on the added drying or thermal agent inside the ink mixture.

The cartridges are also made in completely different sizes and shapes, with toners generally being much bigger in size due to the amount of components (or pieces) needed to apply the pigmented polymers. And having an entire roller covered in particles that spans the size of the accepted media and a drum unit that holds an image, allows the laser toner to swiftly reproduce that same image, which is ideal for printing out multiple copies of one page. Inkjet printers will slowly render and apply ink as the cartridges pass over the media to help capture fine details, making them better for single page printing.

Toners are made and formed with very specific particle solutions and processes that pertain to the particular printer model. For example, some toner particles can be shaped by a vortex procedure giving each grain a rounded shape, whereas the more typical chemically created particles contain jagged edges and can damage rollers that are made to transport rounded particles. Therefore, most toner cartridges will only work with a specific printer or series of printers. The inkjet cartridges, on the other hand, are often interchangeable with several printer series and even manufacturers. When the ink formulations are changed, the viscosity is usually balanced between inkjets allowing almost any printer to apply the contained ink as long as the cartridges have the same size and shape.

In general Inkjets will be able to produce higher quality images and photographs, whereas the toner particles are able to create higher quality text documents. The laser toners will also be able to produce more printouts due to the sheer amount of pigment able to be held by the toner cartridges as opposed to the ink cartridges. Ink cartridges are typically more expensive when comparing the cost to print per page although they can provide a wider color gamut to work with and added definition. So depending on what types of printing you are performing more of, will determine the type of printer and cartridges that will be more beneficial. For the photograph enthusiast, inkjets are recommended for added detail. To create multiple copies of a single page or text documents, a laser toner printer and toner cartridges will be better for your overall printing needs.

How does a Laser Printer work?

A Drum Unit is generally a cylindrical shaped roller inside of a Laser printer that rotates with a “negative or positive” charge. The Laser in the printer essentially draws the letters to be printed onto the Drum roller as an electrostatic image. Once the image has been imprinted onto the Drum with this static charge, the Drum unit is coated with a fine black powder called “toner”. With this imprinted pattern now affixed to the drum roller, the Drum roller can know adhere this powder onto a sheet of paper. Finally the printer passes the paper through a high temperature set of rollers knows as a “fuser”. The fuser fuses the toner to the paper fibers using heat.  Once your page is printed the Drum rollers passes through a discharge lamp which erases the electrostatic image from the photo receptive surface of the Drum… allowing the process to start all over again.

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Printer generates an error message or warning and refuses the cartridge installation

In this case you may need to cycle the printer by following these steps:

1- Turn off the printer, with the cartridge installed.
2- Unplug the printer from its power source for 30-60 seconds.
3- Plug in the printer and turn the power back on.

If cycling the printer does not alleviate the error message or flashing light, the cartridge is most likely defective. Please contact us for a replacement cartridge.

If you receive a warning, asking if you wish to continue using a non-OEM cartridges, click “Yes” to proceed and continue your normal printing operation.

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Horizontal/Vertical white lines appear in printout – printout is faint & blurry

In this case the cartridge nozzles may be slightly clogged. Run the print head cleaning utility 3-4 times before printing again. If after running the utility the situation is unchanged, the cartridge is most likely defective. Please contact us for a replacement cartridge.

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Printer says new ink cartridge is “empty”

It is virtually impossible for you to receive an empty cartridge!!

It is possible however that your cartridge is not properly seated – “Drop” the cartridge into the holder and slightly wiggle the cartridge back and forth to ensure correct seating. Then lock the cartridge in place in its print tray.
Please understand that your printer does not “READ” the ink level from the cartridge itself. The printer software measures the level of ink by remembering the number of pages that have been printed since the last cartridge was installed. The printer then ESTIMATES how much ink is left and when the cartridge should be replaced. If you change the cartridge without letting the printer driver reset it will still think you are using the old cartridge. Install the cartridge again using the “install new cartridge” option. This will tell your printer software that you have installed a new cartridge and force it to reset the internal page counter.
Does the printer itself say it’s out of ink (blinking light), or does a printer related message box come up on your monitor saying it’s empty?
If a light on your printer is blinking (saying ‘out of ink’), make sure the contact points on the cartridge are clean.
If it’s a printer control program or message box that’s telling you it’s out, the issue is probably that the printer control software hasn’t been reset or told a new cartridge was installed.

It’s important to note that with many remanufactured ink cartridges the chip is reset but will often indicate “little or NO ink” is in the cartridge. This couldn’t be further than then truth when buying from inkgrabber. We fill our cartridges to oem spec and often higher if allowable.

Click here to watch our TroubleShooting Videos at Inkgrabber.com!

My printer does not recognize the cartridge

- Cartridges with a print head (All HP, Lexmark, some Canon)
This is caused by weak contact with the printer, or dirty contact points on the cartridge or printer. Clean the print head and the printer with a lint-free cloth or paper towel dipped in alcohol, distilled water or a non-greasy cleanser. Clean in a circular motion.
Try reinstalling the cartridge. “Drop” the cartridge into the holder and slightly wiggle the cartridge a few times to ensure correct seating. Then lock the cartridge in place.

- Cartridges without a print head (Epson, most Canon, Brother, Xerox)
This is most common when using remanufactured Epson ink cartridges with a chip in the front of the cartridge. The reason is that the chip is not properly connecting with the printer. Try pushing it firmly down and make sure it is properly seated. If this does not solve the problem, turn the printer off, remove the cartridge and reinstall, making sure it’s correctly seated. Turn the printer back on and see if the cartridge is recognized. If not repeat this process until it is.

Click here to watch our Ink & Toner TroubleShooting Videos at Inkgrabber.com!

My Ink Cartridge is not printing

You should run the print head cleaning utility after installing a new cartridge. This keeps the nozzles clean and ensures optimal print quality. Please refer to your printer manual for instructions.

Make sure to remove all adhesives and tapes to expose the air holes on the cartridge (if applicable).

Do not leave empty cartridges in your printer or your print head may become clogged. Perform a cleaning cycle through your printer utilities option (on your computer) and follow the instructions to print a test page. If you are not sure how to do this please reference your printers’ owner manual or refer to the manufacturer’s web site for further instruction.

As a last resort, replace the cartridge with a new one. If the problem persists then most likely your print head is clogged. The only way to clear this clog is to keep performing cleaning cycles.

Handle your cartridges with care: DO NOT squeeze or apply pressure to the cartridge when removing the tape or plastic cover. This may cause the cartridge to leak.

If the cartridge contains a chip, remove the cover carefully without touching the chip. Touching the chip may cause the cartridge to fail.

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Leaking Ink Cartridge?

99% of inkjet cartridges are foam based cartridges and do not leak in to the printer. It is physically impossible for a foam based cartridge to leak as the foam holds the ink and requires the printer to “pull” the ink out.

The ink that you notice in your printer is caused from frequent turning on/off of your printer, cartridge replacement, alignment & automatic cleaning cycles. The cleaning cycles draw ink out of the cartridge to clean the print-head. Overtime, the reservoir (area under the printer which is covered by thick cardboard or foam) gets filled with this ink and needs to be cleaned or the printer will need to be replaced. This happens especially if the printer is turned on and off every day or is a high usage printer. Some Canon printers will literally shut down if this tray gets full.

For more troubleshooting tips, please visit: http://www.inkgrabber.com/trouble.jsp


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