Maintaining Laser Printers – CompTIA A+ 220-901 – 1.15

Laser printers are mechanical devices that require periodic maintenance. In this video, you’ll learn about toner cartridge replacement, maintenance kits, printer calibration, and printer cleaning.

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Replacing a toner cartridge is one of the more common laser printer maintenance tasks. You usually get a warning message on your laser printer saying that the toner cartridge is low. The message doesn’t mean that you need to replace the toner cartridge immediately, but you are getting to the end of the usable life for that toner cartridge. Some toner cartridges contain both toner and the OPC drum for the laser printer. That’s the organic photo conductor drum. That is the drum that is spinning around that is taking the image from the toner and putting it on to the paper.

They’re very sensitive to light and they’re usually packaged in a bag that doesn’t allow any light. Usually you want to keep it inside this bag until you’re ready to replace the toner cartridge. A good rule of thumb is to remove all power sources from the printer before you began working on the inside, especially on laser printers which use a lot of voltage on the inside of those printers. You want to remove any of the packing strips from the new toner cartridge and the drum, and replace the toner cartridge inside of the printer.

Here’s a good picture of the OPC drum. You can see this technician has moved the safety panel away from the OPC drum so that you can see it. Normally there’s this spring loaded cover on the front so that no light is going to hit that. And you can see it’s pretty messy. This technician was also smart enough to put gloves on, because you do see quite a bit of toner still left on that OPC drum. The actual replacement of the toner cartridge is relatively simple. You simply slide out or remove the existing toner cartridge, and put the new one in its place.

You’ll want to check the instructions for your toner cartridge. Some toner cartridges require that you remove a strip or piece of plastic to release the toner. The laser printer is a very complex piece of machinery. There are a lot of moving parts. There’s heat. And there’s pressure. And these parts tend to wear out over time. Fortunately, the laser printer manufacturers create these very standardized maintenance kits that have everything that you would need to replace inside of the laser printer on a standard maintenance schedule. Some very common items in some of these maintenance kits might be feed rollers or fuser units, and other pieces that might wear out over time,

You may be able to tell exactly when this laser printer maintenance needs to occur, because you’ll see the worn parts inside of the printer. But if you’re not near the printer and you’d like to see what the current status is, you might want to look at the page counter of the printer to determine how much this printer has been used over time. As with any time you’re inside of a laser printer, make sure you remove any power sources when you’re replacing these components. And be careful when you’re replacing things like a fuser unit. Those fuser units get very hot. You want to make sure you don’t burn yourself during the replacement process.

Once you’re done, reset the page counter back to zero and you’ve completed the maintenance process. Once you’ve replace the toner cartridge and performed the maintenance of your printer, you may want to check to see how well it’s going to create output. One way to do that is to run a laser printer calibration, especially on color laser printers where certain colors may print with different densities than others. You can print out one of these test outputs and determine exactly what kind of output you’re going to see on the final product. During the calibration process, these color densities can be adjusted so you get exactly the right kind of output.

This can sometimes be automated within the printer itself, or you may need to make manual changes to the density. One universal truth with printers is they can get very dirty. The toner itself gets inside of the printer and tiny dust of paper can get in the printer and create residue as well. So you want to be sure you can clean it out occasionally. But every laser printer is a little bit different. You want to check the manufacturer’s recommendations to be sure you’re using exactly the right kind of chemicals or water in the right places for that printer. On the outside, we tend to just use a damp cloth. There’s nothing special that needs to be cleaned off of the outside. Some cold water tends to keep everything clean.

On the inside of the laser printer, you want to be very careful about spreading the dust around. So we don’t generally use compressed air. In fact, we don’t even use a vacuum cleaner either because the toner particles are so small you would need a specialized toner vacuum. So instead, we generally will wipe the dust away with a damp cloth. If you get any of the toner on your skin, don’t use warm water, instead use cold water, that way you’ll be assured not to melt any of that toner have it stick to your skin even worse. And for the rubberized rollers inside of the laser printer, you might want to use IPA, which is isopropyl alcohol. This will clean out the rollers and keep them able to still grip the paper as it goes through the printer.