How a Toner printer works

When you print something, your computer sends a stream of electronic data to your laser printer. An electronic circuit in the printer figures out what all this data means and what it needs to look like on the page. It makes a laser beam scan back and forth across a drum inside the printer, building up a pattern of static electricity. The static electricity attracts the toner powder to the page. Finally, a fuser unit then bonds the toner to the paper.

  1. Data streams into the printer from your device.
  2. An electronic circuit in the printer figures out how to print this data so it looks correct on the page.
  3. The electronic circuit activates the corona wire. This is a high voltage wire that gives a static electric charge to anything nearby.
  4. The corona wire charges up the photoreceptor drum (OPC) so the drum gains a positive charge spread uniformly across its surface.
  5. At the same time, the circuit activates the laser to make it draw the image of the page onto the drum. The laser beam doesn’t move; it bounces off a moving mirror that scans it over the drum. Where the laser beam hits the drum, it erases the positive charge that was there and creates an area of negative charge instead. Gradually, an image of the entire page builds upon the drum: where the page should be white, there are areas with a positive charge; where the page should be black, there are areas of negative charge.
  6. An ink roller touching the photoreceptor drum coats it with tiny particles of toner. The toner has been given a positive electrical charge, so it sticks to the parts of the photoreceptor drum that have a negative charge. No Ink is attracted to the parts of the drum that have a positive charge. An ink image of the page builds upon the drum.
  7. A sheet of paper from a hopper on the other side of the printer feeds up toward the drum. As it moves along, the paper is given a strong positive electrical charge by the corona wire.
  8. When the paper moves near the drum, its positive charge attracts the negatively charged toner particles away from the drum. The image is transferred from the drum onto the paper but, for the moment, the toner particles are just resting lightly on the papers surface.
  9. The inked paper passes through two hot rollers (the fuser unit). The heat and pressure from the rollers fuse the toner particles permanently into the fibres of the paper.
  10. The printout emerges from the side of the printer.

Questions & Answers – Toner Cartridges

Q- I’m trying to insert the cartridge(s) into my printer, but they won’t fit.
First check to make sure that you have purchased the correct cartridges for your printer. Remanufactured and compatible cartridges often do look slightly different in shape and may often be a tighter fit, but they will fit into the printer the same as the original cartridges. If the cartridge(s) still won’t fit, then make sure you are placing the cartridge into the correct slot.

Q- I have fitted the cartridge and no print appears on the paper.
Some cartridges are fitted with removable seals to prevent toner leaking from the product. Simply pull the detachable plastic seal from the side of the cartridge fully to release the toner.

Q- I am getting Light prints.
Check the printer has not been inadvertently switched to economy-mode. Make sure you check the print quality setting, the density setting and the retention setting of your machine. (check your printer manual for these settings). If this doesn’t work, then take out the toner cartridge and give it a gentle shake (not too much so the toner powder comes out) to unsettle any powder that may be on the bottom of the cartridge due to storage. Poor paper can also cause light prints.

Q – I am getting a low toner message.
Make sure the seal has been removed. Has an empty toner been put into the machine? Empty toner cartridges have a typical pattern of fading print in the middle of the page.

Q – I am getting image defects including vertical lines or streaks.
Remove the cartridge(s) from the printer and clean the metallic drum on the front of the cartridge. Try to rotate the drum to ensure its left clean all the way around.
If the printer has a separate image drum or photoconductor unit the most likely cause of image defects, other than the toner, is the drum.
Many laser printers have a maintenance kit, image drum unit, which includes the fuser, transfer roller and paper pick-ups.
These imaging drum units only have a limited page lift and need to be replaced when an image problem occurs.

Q- I am getting a shaded background on the page when printing.
A shaded background can be caused by a toner cartridge that is not correctly seated, or if the printer drum rollers/cartridge interface are dirty.
Gently clean both the toner drum roller and the surface of the toner cartridge well with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Q- There are random blotches on the printed paper.
The waste bin of the cartridge is full. Remove the cartridge and clean it out.

Q- The printer does not do anything after replacing a toner cartridge.
First, make sure that all packing material has been removed. Sometimes a small sticker can be overlooked which leads to problems with the print. A second common problem is a debris in the printer interfering with the cartridge.
Ensure that the toner cartridge is correctly locked in to place with the printer lid shut

Q – I am getting a printer error message on initial cartridge installation.
First check if the cartridge is the correct model for your printer.
Take the cartridge out of the printer and check all the packaging has been removed from the cartridges.
When the printer is still on, pull the power cable out the back of the printer and leave the printer off for 15 minutes. This process is to reset the printer memory.
If the cartridge contains a chip, while the cartridge is out of the printer to give the chip a wipe with a tissue or cloth.
Ensure that the inside of the printer is clean and there are no sensors that have been covered with toner powder.
Wait for at least 15 minutes and then turn the printer back on and insert the cartridge, making sure that it is clicked firmly into place in the slot within the printer.
This will reset the printer, and, in most cases, it will resolve the issue.

Q – I have inserted a set of cartridges and I am getting a printer error message.
First, we need to identify which cartridge is causing the problem. If you place all of your old working cartridges back into the printer and change each cartridge one by one to locate which new cartridge is causing the error.

Q- I have installed the cartridge and the toner level indicator is not active and reads low.
To avoid patent infringements the design of memory chip may differ from the original product. Some laser toner cartridges when installed will not display the memory status bar of your printer display. This does not affect the performance of the cartridge and you may continue to print normally.

Q- The cartridge appears to be running low sooner than it should be based on factory page yield estimates.
Industry standards are based on an average 5% text/graphic coverage on the page. If you are printing heavy graphics and/or text coverage will be more than 5%. If your coverage is 10%, your cartridge will run out in half the number of pages specified in the factory page yield. How many prints you get out of your cartridge will depend on a number of factors including the size of the font you use, the weight of the font you use and the width of the page border.

Q- I’m getting cloudy black areas/lines on the background of my page.
This is usually because of poor OPC conductivity and the drum shaft contact being poor. To resolve this, it is suggested that you change the drum unit in your machine.

Q- I have installed a new toner but when I print it makes an abnormal sound/grinding noise.
This is usually poor cooperation between components and parts on the machine and cartridge. To resolve this, remove the toner and try reinstalling, it’s possible that it has been inserted at a slightly incorrect angle. If the problem persists, contact your customer service representative.

Q- I have installed a new toner but it’s leaking into the machine and on to the paper.
This is usually because the toner seal isn’t stuck firmly on the cartridge. It could also be due to the magnetic roller felt/sponge sealing strip being defective. If you have a leaking toner, please contact your customer service representative.

Q- My prints have white vertical streaks.
This is usually because the OPC drum has been scratched or the charging wire is dirty. If possible, clean the charging wire or contact your customer service representative.

Q- My prints are banding across the page.
This is usually because of a soiled fuser roller or cartridge malfunction. Contact your customer service representative for a replacement cartridge.

How an Inkjet printer work

When the computer sends the signal to print, a cue to take the paper from the feed trays start. Stepper motors engage small rollers that pick up a sheet of paper to use. When the paper is picked up, the stepper motors continue to feed the paper through during the inking process. The stepper motors move the piece of paper forward in precise increments to allow the ink to be deposited at the right place on the page.

Once the paper is positioned to print, the print head deposits ink over the page. This movement occurs horizontally in increments, milliseconds in length, as the print head starts and stops to reach new sections of the page. Each time the print head stops, carefully calculated droplets of ink deposits on to the paper with both the correct mix of colours and locations on the page to create the image according to the data that the machine has received. Once the print head reaches the edge of the page, the rollers move the page down enough to reach the next line without any gaps. The print head moves in the reverse direction within the printer, but the same process repeats until the end of the page is reached.

The ink for the print head comes from ink cartridges located in another place on the printer. Ink is drawn from the cartridges into the print head to deposit ink on to the paper.

Q- I have inserted the cartridge and it won't work in the printer. Printer says “not recognised” or the machine thinks the cartridge is empty and won't print.
Remove the cartridge from the machine and then switch the machine off for around 10-15 minutes to fully shut down. This will erase the printer’s memory of any previous chip reading. After this time, switch the machine back on letting it fully initialise and then try reinstalling the cartridge. This should bring the connection back between the cartridge chip and the chip on the printer.
If this doesn’t resolve your issue, then it is most likely down to the firmware on your machine upgrading and not registering the previous chip.

Q – My printer is printing pages with streaks.
Sometimes your inkjet printer may begin printing pages with unintended lines and streaks of colour which could mean one of the below:
Poor alignment – if your inkjet printers heads are out of alignment, which will result in streaking, you can correct the problem by using the alignment tool in your printers control panel.
Dirty printer – if the ink streaks appear along the edges of the page, the ink may be present on the rollers and other working parts in the machine and cleaning would be required. Inkjet printer manuals will explain how to clean your device.
Print head ageing – Inkjet machines do not last forever due to their value to buy. Typically, we’d expect an inkjet machine to last around 2 years, less if they are excessively used.

Q- Colours are missing from my prints.
Often, clogged printer heads may be mistaken for poor alignment. However, if there are colours missing from your prints or the colours seems off, you will need to use the cleaning tool on the printer.

Q- I am printing images but the colour is distorted.
This could be for several reasons including:

The cartridge is running out of ink.
Printheads needing a clean.

Q- My prints have a vertical print misalignment.
This is usually a misalignment of the printhead due to a paper jam. The best solution for this would calibrate the print head with the printer software.

Q- My prints are coming out with a furred feathered edge.
The main reason behind this is wet, or wrinkled paper. It’s unlikely but something may be stuck to the print head. A cleaning cycle on the print heads will resolve this.