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5 Common Problems With Laser Printers

laser printer issues

Got issues with toner-based printers? You’re not alone.

If you’re like most office workers, you have a love-hate relationship with laser printers. Either they’re too expensive, print a streaky mess, or jam up. You probably have a laundry list of reasons why you’d like to “Office Space” one with a baseball bat in your parking lot. Before you go for the Louisville Slugger, let us help you remedy five common issues most people have with toner-based laser printers.

1. Laser Printers Jam Up Too Much

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a paper jam when time is of the essence, we feel your pain. Unlike smaller desktop inkjet printers, remedying a paper jam in a toner-based laser printer can feel like finding a needle in a meat grinder. Before you reach for the Slugger or DeMarini, keep in mind that it may not be the printer’s fault at all for the jam — it’s likely what paper you’re using. Most technicians of any appliance will likely look for the most malleable aspect of a device. Just like a sewing machine technician will change out the needle before changing out any parts, you should consider what kind of paper you’re using.

Cheaper paper is the least likely to keep its form and most likely to have a rougher cut. These harsher cuts can lead to an abundance of paper dust that can accumulate in the machine. The flimsy paper may buckle and fold along its journey, leading to jams. So, before you curse your office laser printer, check the tray. Bonus: Also, if your laser printers are located in a dustier or more humid environment, this can drastically increase the likelihood of paper jams. Move such printers out of warehouses or areas near open windows to dedicated print spaces for the best results.

2. Laser Printer Print Quality is Low

Let us know if this sounds familiar: You’re on a deadline and need to print out an important presentation. What comes out in the tray are a bunch of streaky images and choppy text. You angrily slap the side of the printer and let out a, “what gives?!” By now, someone has hopefully hidden your baseball bat as you check the toner level readings. A few different issues may be to blame.

  • A. The toner is low. When the toner is low, just like when the ink is weak in an inkjet printer, the results can be streaky. If this is the case, it may be time to drop a new toner cartridge into your office printer.
  • B. You’re trying to print sharp images using toner. Laser printers are best suited for printing text and spreadsheets — not high-resolution images. You may be better off printing this presentation with an inkjet printer that is better suited for providing high-resolution images.

3. Laser Consumables Are Pricier Than Ink

So, your laser printer is telling you that the toner cartridge is low, but you don’t have a replacement. You hop online or visit the local office supply store to find that replacement toner cartridges cost more than many inkjet refills. You throw your hands up and exclaim, “what is happening?!” Replacement cartridges may indeed run a bit more than replacement ink cartridges. With that being said, there are a few factors to consider:

  • A. Check out the estimated print pages of the toner cartridge versus the ink cartridge. There’s a good chance that your toner cartridge will far out-last an ink cartridge — especially considering the differences in print densities based on the style of documents you would likely be printing with each.
  • B. A toner cartridge is more than just toner — it’s also the laser drum assembly. This two-part replacement assembly ensures a higher quality of prints. If you calculated the prices of ink versus toner by the sheer volume of each substance, ink will almost always be more expensive.

4. Laser Printers Cost More than Inkjet Printers

Laser printers indeed tend to have a higher upfront cost than inkjet printers — especially true if you’re comparing the prices in desktop printers for the home or smaller offices. This can lead to people buying the printer with the lower upfront cost, thinking this is the smarter investment. Though many inkjet printers boast of low upfront costs, some may build the actual cost of using the printer into the price of replacement ink cartridges. Many inkjet printer manufacturers also manufacture the specific replacement ink cartridges needed by the machines — usually where the real money is made with inkjet printers. Laser printers, however, typically have a higher upfront cost due to a more reasonable toner cartridge replacement cost when the print volume is taken into consideration. What is the true indicator of the cost of a printer? The Cost-Per-Copy, or CPC. When shopping for a new office printer, always enquire about the CPC. This number will give you a better understanding of the true cost of owning and operating a printer for years to come.

5. The Toner Isn't Sticking to the Page

Upon trying to run a print job, you notice that the toner doesn't seem to be sticking to the page the way it should. Before you pull out the toner cartridge and throw it away, the issue may actually be with the fuser unit. One possible solution may be taking out the toner cartridge unit and giving it a gentle shake from side to side. This shaking action may free up lodged toner or a jammed fuser. If this move doesn't work, it may be time for a replacement toner cartridge. If the cartridge is new, you may give your consumables provider a call to report a defective cartridge.

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