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

| January 30, 2013


Laser printers combine heat, pressure, and moving parts to create beautiful output. Unfortunately, this combined printing chaos requires ongoing maintenance. In this video, you’ll learn the best practices for keeping your laser printer in peak operating condition.
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One of the most common things you’ll do to maintain your laser printer is to constantly swap out the empty toner cartridge for a full toner cartridge. You’ll start to see a message appear on the screen that your toner is low. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to replace the toner cartridge right then. You’ll still have a number of printouts that you can get from the existing toner that’s inside of that. But it may be a good idea to make sure that you have one ready to go on standby, because the printouts will begin to get lighter and lighter and lighter as you continue to use all of that toner.

Your toner cartridge tends to not only have toner inside of it, but it generally also contains the OPC drum. That stands for Organic Photo Conductor drum. It is extremely sensitive to light. You’ll notice there is a cover over it. You can’t see it at all when you are looking at the toner cartridge. It’s protected from any light getting into it. But you want to be especially careful that you don’t let an extended amount of light get on to that particular organic photo conductor.

Whenever you replace anything inside of the printer, you want to be sure to be very safe. It’s good to power things off and even unplug the printer. Inside of that printer is a lot of voltage and a lot of heat, so you want to make sure you take every possible concern that you can. So power it down and make sure that you’re very safe when you’re replacing it.

Usually the new toner cartridge comes with some packing strips you pull out of the toner cartridge. And there’s always some instructions on it, so make sure that you get all of those different packing strips removed before you place it inside of the printer. And then once you take out the old and replace it inside, take your old toner cartridge, you can always put that back into the box and perhaps send it off for recycling.

The printer manufacturers have generally made this very easy to do, since this is something that you’ll be performing all the time. Usually once you open the cover, the first thing there is the toner cartridge. You can take the old one out and place it to the side.

Grab your new toner cartridge. Remove those packing strips. Place it right into the printer. And close the printer drawer again. Very easy to make that happen.

Sometimes the manufacturer will also recommend for you to do a little bit of maintenance for cleaning inside the printer of the pieces that you have access to while the old toner cartridge is removed. Always a good idea to keep your printer as clean as possible.

We don’t usually have a lot of moving parts inside of our computers. Usually there might be a fan, but that’s about it. That’s very different than printers, which have a lot of moving parts inside of them.

They are big, mechanical devices. And as you use them, the more they tend to wear out. So our printer manufacturers have created laser printer maintenance kits so that we can replace out all of those devices that tend to be used and get worn over time.

This is an example of a laser printer maintenance kit. You can see the fusing device. You can see all of the different rollers that might be inside of it. They might give you additional components, depending on the type of printer model that you have. And usually there are some instructions inside of it that help you along the process.

So a common question that comes up is, when do you perform the maintenance? Usually the printer manufacturer will tell you to perform maintenance at a certain interval of pages printed. And there is a counter inside of the printer that counts how many pages have come out of that device. And when you perform the maintenance, you generally reset the counter. That way, you have an idea of when it might be a good time to perform that maintenance.

Whenever you are working inside of a laser printer, it is a high voltage environment. There are very hot components, so you may not only need to disconnect that device from power, but you may need to open it up and let it cool down a bit, especially when you’re replacing something like a fusing assembly, which by its nature gets very, very warm. Be very careful working when inside there. You certainly don’t want to electrocute yourself and certainly don’t want to burn yourself either.

Once you have powered the printer back up, you perform some test prints, and now you can see that everything is working properly, your last step should be to reset that counter so that you can then track how long it’s going to be until you perform the entire process all over again.

If you’ve ever worked with a lot of different kinds of toner cartridges, you may notice that when you replace the toner cartridge, the printout has a different density to it, a different lightness, or maybe it’s too dark. One of the things you can do is perform a laser printer calibration. That allows you to adjust how much density there should be for those toner particles on the page so that you can get just the right kind of output that you’d like. This can be an automated process that’s done inside of the printer, or it may require that you make manual adjustments when it prints out a test page. Every printer works a little bit differently for calibration, so you want to check with your printer manufacturer’s instructions to see exactly the best way to calibrate your laser printer.

One thing that is universal with laser printers is that they are very dirty. There is a lot of paper dust inside of it. And the toner usually goes everywhere inside of these laser printers, so cleaning them out can be a bit of a chore. One of the things many manufacturers recommend is using things like simple water or IPA, isopropyl alcohol, to be able to clean out some of the more difficult dirty spots inside of your printer.

You want to be very careful about using harsh chemicals, both on the inside and the outside of the printer. There’s usually no reason to do so. And you have a pretty good chance of damaging things by using harsh chemicals. So when you’re working outside of the printer, just simply use cold water. Cold water tends to be very good at getting rid of some of those toner particles.

Inside of the printer, it’s a little more difficult. That toner can go everywhere. And you certainly can’t blow it out on the inside of the building to get rid of the toner. It would fly in every direction. So you want to try wiping things out.

You do not want to use a standard vacuum cleaner. Standard vacuum cleaners tend to create a lot of static electricity. And that tends to create more problems than it solves. Sometimes you can use very specialized vacuums that are designed just for laser printers. These are relatively expensive, so sometimes it may make sense to have a third party come in to do something like this.

If you get toner on your skin, it comes off pretty easily with cold water. Make sure you use the cold water and not the hot water. And if you have rollers that are inside of your printer, those come very clean by using something like isopropyl alcohol to make sure that they’re able to grip the paper and pull it through the laser printer.

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Category: CompTIA A+ 220-801

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