by December 1, 1999 0 comments

A lot of problems with laser printers arise from the mal-functioning of the toner cart- cartridge. The
cartridge is essentially divided in two parts–the Hopper section and the Waste chamber. The former is where the fresh, unused toner resides, while the latter holds waste toner powder. The major components inside a toner cartridge include the doctor blade, mag roller and sleeve, the drum, primary charge roller, and wiper blade. Trouble arising in any of these components can lead to distinct printing problems. 

The drum 
The drum, which is the heart of a toner cartridge, has three coatings on it. The bottom layer is the base-layer, the middle one is the charge-generation layer, and the top layer is called the charge-transfer layer. In case the top layer gets scratched, it can be re-coated. However, the middle layer can’t be re-coated. So in case it gets scratched, the toner powder (above it) will not get charged. Due to this, the toner won’t get transferred to the paper, leading to a permanent white spot on your printouts. That’s why it’s necessary to keep your printer in a dust-free environment. You should also shuffle the paper that you put inside the paper tray properly. The drum is quite sensitive, so even a tiny piece of paper that’s left behind due to a paper jam could damage it. This can lead to the formation of
equi-distant spots on your printouts. 

There are two kinds of drums–Celenium and OPC (Organic Photo Conductor). The latter are hard coated, and are therefore more resistant to getting scratched leading to a longer life. These are also internally lubricated.

Roll that charge
The toner that gets transferred to the drum gets charged in areas where the image is to be made. The toner in this area is then melted and fused on to the paper. The primary charge roller charges the drum in a toner cartridge. This component has a certain resistance across it that varies for cartridges of different printer models. Two main problems can arise in a PCR–either it charges over its entire surface or doesn’t charge at all. This can lead to either completely black or plane white printouts. If your PCR fails, then the only probable cure is to replace it. Chances of its failure are very low unless you’ve used your printer cartridge for more than two life cycles.

Wipe that blade
After the toner powder fuses onto the paper, what remains is taken care of by the wiper blade. All the toner powder that doesn’t fuse onto the paper is wiped off by this blade and transferred to the waste chamber. If the blade stops performing its function, you’ll notice excessive toner powder coming out along with your printouts. 

Monitor your toner 
To regulate the outflow of toner powder, the doctor blade is used. It’s made of very fine rubber material. If it gets damaged, excessive toner powder gets released from the Hopper section, causing a lot of wastage and resulting in lesser number of printouts.

Care for your printer
All these troubles can arise if you use your printer cartridge beyond two life cycles. This could also damage your printer. As the various components inside a toner cartridge are relatively cheaper, you would be better off replacing these, rather than getting your printer repaired. Here are some general tips on how to take care of your laser printer. 

Some popular HP printer models and the appropriate toner powder 
grade for them

powder grade
LaserJet 4L/4P


LaserJet 4/4+/4M/4M+/5/5M/5N







Keep your printer in a dust-free environment. Dust can damage the drum and affect the smooth rotation of other components inside the printer and the toner cartridge. Always shuffle the paper properly before putting it in your printer. This will ensure that the papers don’t stick together due to humidity, and all dust or other particles are thrown out. 

If you’re putting a stack of papers inside the paper tray from an open paper packet, then remove the top most sheet, as it’ll have the maximum collection of dust particles. You should never rotate your printer cartridge’s drum in the opposite direction. This can cause toner spilling and unwanted patches on your printouts. 

Have your printer cleaned regularly to ensure better printing quality and longer life of its various parts. Happy printing!

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