Impact Printer Maintenance – CompTIA A+ 220-801: 4.3

Impact printers may be loud, but they do a great job with multi-page forms. In this video, you’ll learn how to keep the dot-matrix print head and ribbons working at peak effectiveness.
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When you’re working with impact printers like Dot Matrix printers, they often use a ribbon inside of that printer to be able to get ink onto the paper itself. This ribbon is usually self-contained. It’s one single cartridge, which makes it very easy to remove and replace with a new cartridge.

You’ll notice that it’s time to replace the cartridge when the ink gets lighter and lighter. We’re using this ribbon over and over again and it’s really up to you to make a decision on what time it is to remove that cartridge and put something else in. So that the printing can be dark again. The manufacture of these printers have made it very easy to replace the ribbon cartridge. You have to make sure that you get exactly the right ribbon cartridge for the make and the model of that printer.

But at that point, it’s an easy process. You open the cover of the printer. The cartridge usually pops right out. And you can simply snap down a brand new ribbon inside of that printer.

If your Dot Matrix printer is used a lot then you may find that you’re wearing out the actual print head of the printer inside of it. These tend to take a lot of abuse because they are using those pins and hitting the paper. And if you’re using that printer all the time, you may find that it is wearing out over time as well.

This gets very hot. So if you’ve been asked to replace a print head inside of an impact printer, make sure you’re very careful. You may want to allow that printer to cool down just a bit before you decide to replace it.

It is also a very modular part. The manufacturers have also made these very easy to replace. They know that they will wear over time. And they wanted to be sure that they were field upgradable or field swap-able. There’s usually a button to press or a lever to move. And the print head just pops right out. You can simply then take your replacement print head. Push it down. It will snap into place. And now you were able to print with the brand new print head.

If you’re already inside the printer replacing the print head, it’s also a very good time to replace the ribbon as well. That way, every new print out that comes from that printer is going to look as good as it possibly can.

If you’re using a Dot Matrix printer it’s probably because there’s some type of requirement for forms, or some other very specific reason for using that printer. And for that reason we don’t usually use standard sized paper inside of the printer. It’s usually something like paper that has these little holes on the side of it that are pulled through the printer as it prints.

If your printer’s printing to simple white plain paper then it’s an easy replacement. You add the paper. You make sure the holes are lined up properly in that continuous feeder. And you close it up and it’s able to print.

But if you’re printing to a form, you have to be very careful about exactly where you’re putting that paper. That’s because the application that prints onto the form will begin printing immediately. And you want to be sure that all of the different areas of that form are going to be filled in properly by that application. So sometimes you replace the paper and there’s often a test prep that you can do to make sure that everything is lined up perfectly.

Since this is continuous feed paper it’s one long piece. And you want to be sure that the area that is pulling the paper in can receive that paper without any type of constraint. If the paper is not lined up properly, or if it’s pushed too far back are too far forward, you may find that the paper is not able to pull it easy enough. And it may jam or it may break the paper before it gets into the printer. So as long as you have everything clear and the paper is able to move properly, you’ll be able to get the best print outs possible.