Impact Printer Maintenance – CompTIA A+ 220-1001 – 3.11

Maintaining a dot-matrix printer is focused on three fundamental printer components. In this video, you’ll learn about replacing ribbons, print heads, and tractor-fed paper.

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The ribbon that’s inside of a dot matrix printer or an impact printer is going to be one very, very long circle. Inside of this ribbon cartridge is a compressed version of this ribbon. And then you have the single ribbon that comes out on the other side.

This means that the ribbon is going to rotate around and around and around many times during its lifetime. This also means that, eventually, your output begins getting lighter and lighter on the page. And at some point, you’ll decide that the output is too light to read. And you’ll need to replace this printer ribbon.

Fortunately, these ribbons are very modular. They’re designed to snap out of the printer and to snap the new one in, usually in less than a minute. These ribbons, though, are very specific to the model of the printer that you’re using. So you want to be sure, if you’re purchasing new printer ribbons, that you know exactly what printer model and what type of ribbon is going to go inside of it.

The workhorse of any dot matrix printer is the print head itself. It’s going back and forth across the page, hitting that page every time you want to make any character or any output on the page itself. But after a while, you’ll find that some of these pins may stop operating. And you may have to replace the entire print head.

That means that this is also going to get very hot. If you were to open up the printer and touch that print head, you’ll find that it could possibly burn you. So if you are planning to replace the print head, be very careful with the heat.

On most dot matrix printers, this print head is also designed to be removable and replaceable by the end user. There’s usually a release lever or release bar that allows you to take out the print head and replace it with one that’s brand new. Since you’re inside the printer, that’s also a good time to replace the ribbon so that next time you begin printing you’ll have the best possible output from that dot matrix printer.

Replacing the paper in a dot matrix printer can sometimes be a little more challenging than replacing paper inside of a laser printer or inkjet printer. That’s because we have to make sure that this tractor feed paper, where these holes are on the side of the paper, are matching up with the tractor feed that’s on the printer itself. Sometimes this paper is not simply white paper. It might be a particular form. And there may be output that is trying to fit into very specific areas of the page to fill in that form.

That’s why, after replacing paper that is form-type paper, you may want to run some test sheets to make sure that everything is lined up perfectly. You may have to move the paper up or back a number of holes in that paper to make sure everything is perfectly aligned. This paper is often continuous feed paper, which means it’s not single sheets but one very, very, very long sheet of paper. This means that the tractor-fed paper must flow very freely through the printer. So if you are replacing the paper, make sure there’s nothing in the way and that the paper is able to flow completely through the printer without causing any jams as it’s passing by.