Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Frequently asked questions about HP Laser printers
1) How long should a printer's toner cartridge last?
Generally, a laser printer toner cartridges should produce from 3000 to 40,000 pages depending on the printer model and cartridge yield.
How long a toner cartridge lasts depends on four important factors:
Laser printer engine type
Type of documents printed
Toner cartridge (OEM or recycled)
The type of print engine dictates the cartridge type used in that printer. Printers can be classified by a duty cycle or expected monthly use. The higher the expected monthly use, the larger the toner (dry powder ink) supplied in the toner cartridge which dictates cartridge yield.
Obviously, the type of document to be printed varies-some more complex than others. More laser printer toner is used if the image is complex or if there are large areas of black. This means fewer pages will be printed over the life of the toner cartridge. Estimates on the number of pages a toner cartridge yields are based on an average office letter amounting to about five percent toner versus 95 percent white space on the page. The yield of a laser printer cartridge drops depending on the use of graphics.
OEM means original equipment manufacturer. Many people don't realize this, but Canon produces the engines for HP LaserJets up until recently. Canon also makes the original (OEM) laser printer toner cartridges. When you buy a new HP brand toner cartridge, it comes from a Canon factory.
The original idea of the cartridge was to throw it away after it ran out of toner. Not so good for the environment or for our recycling concerns. Over the years, a whole industry has been established to recycle or remanufacture used toner cartridges. You need to be aware that new and remanufactured cartridges contain recycled parts. Cartridge performance depends on the quality of the manufacturing process.
The printing environment influences toner cartridge life expectancy as well. Toner cartridges are complex devices in their own right. Their operation depends on highly charged static electricity. Outside environmental conditions change toner cartridge performance especially when relative humidity (RH) swings either high or low. Although these extremes of less than 20 percent or more than 80 percent RH chiefly affects cartridge image quality, cartridge yield also suffers.
Other factors alter cartridge yield, including the type of paper used and laser printer configuration. Make sure your printer is set for the best performance to assure getting the most from your toner cartridges.
2) What is the life span of a laser printer?
Manufacturers suggested that early laser printers were expected to last for around 500,000 printed pages. More recent laser printers should last much longer.
If you perceive that the printer has served its usefulness, that it is not worth repairing, or that a better printer is available at a reasonable price, replace it. However, if parts are available, service is reasonable, and it serves your needs, keep it. In that case, a printer could last as long as you want-usually far beyond the manufacturer's expectations.
Printer lifespan depends on several factors
Laser printer engine type
The general condition of the printer
Type of paper
Laser printer replacement parts and service
Some laser printers last longer than others depending on the design and durability of the print engine. Canon makes the engines (print mechanisms) within HP Laserjets. Canon engines are reliable and thoughtfully designed with service in mind. Consequently, they perform well and last longer than some other manufacturer's machines.
The printing environment influences laser printer life and performance. A printer used at a construction site or housing development, unless protected from the dust and dirt, will not last nearly as long as a printer in a normal air-conditioned office.
Most laser printer maintenance involves replacing worn parts due to normal wear and tear. The more dirt and dust, the more wear and tear. Such printers should be regularly serviced and cleaned more often than under normal conditions.
When buying a used laser printer, consider having its general condition checked before accepting delivery. How a printer has been used in the past will influence the remaining useful life.
The type of paper directly affects the life-span of pickup and feed rollers of the printer. Most laser printers are designed to handle common copy paper (20# bond stock). The assortment of paper out there is astounding. Many people try using a wide variety of their printing needs, not realizing its effects on the printer.
Heavy stocks resist bending around the sinuous paper paths of some printers, causing paper jams. We have long praised HP in its thoughtfulness to provide parts and service manuals for independent service companies. As a result of that ongoing support, third-party service has flourished throughout the market place.
People who need laser printer service can easily find help from multiple sources. Competition has driven service prices down for laser printer users. With economical parts and service, many HP owners choose to fix their printers rather than replace them with other models. For example, many thousands of older HP Laserjets still operate today, 10-20 years after they were introduced. That is truly amazing considering the changing technology seen in laser printers since then.
Current HP Laserjets are certainly good options in light of the advanced technology they contain and their reasonable prices
3) Should remanufactured toner cartridges be used in laser printers?
It depends. Toner cartridge recycling has come a long way since the old days of "drill and fill." Many reputable companies produce quality remanufactured toner cartridges that perform as good or better than the original manufacturer, at a fraction of the cost.
Others may not consistently produce good quality cartridges. This is what frustrates the quality producers: They get a bad reputation from those who make poor products. We suggest that you ask the following questions when purchasing remanufactured cartridges
Are engineering, tool & die capabilities part of the company's remanufacturing capabilities? Remanufacturers must be able to make tools and manufacture parts, adjusting them to meet any changes in OEM specifications.
Is the installation of a "long-life" drum required in every cartridge? OEM quality cannot be consistently met without the use of a high-quality, long-life drum.
How long has the company been in business?. Consumers should have a consistent, reliable and well-known supplier.
Is a written warranty available that covers any damage to equipment resulting from the products furnished to you? Ease of mind and protection of hardware are essential investments of any remanufacturing program
Is the toner cavity sealed by either heat or adhesive? Rigid plastic cards do not adequately seal toner cartridges.
4) Does adding memory to a laser printer speed up printing?
Adding memory enables a printer to handle more complex documents. Processing time for a page may or may not be influenced by having extra memory. Documents with many fonts (character styles) require the processor chip in the printer to flush fonts-downloaded before-to make room for more.
This takes extra time to do. With more memory installed in the printer, more room is available to hold previously downloaded fonts.
After the first of the multiple prints of the same page comes out, succeeding pages will be ejected at the maximum speed of the print engine. Adding memory to a printer cannot increase this basic engine print speed.
Some printer models offer memory management options that reserve a portion of memory for formatting. The complex document will usually print without having extra memory added to the printer.
5) Could paper create laser printer problems?
Yes. Paper abrades paper pickup and feed rollers which drive it through the printer Some types of paper wear down rollers more than others.
The type and quality of paper used in a printer also influence print quality. Toner does not fuse well to some paper. Check this by folding the page over a printed area then straighten up the fold. Rub the crease to see how well the toner sticks to the page there.
Heavy stock paper, thin overhead stock, and other nonstandard paper might cause problems, especially in printers whose paper paths form tight turns. When feeding non-standard stock, use the straightest paper path options for your machine.
Although most printers handle a variety of paperweights and styles reasonably well, check your users manual for recommended paper specifications.
Moisture in paper produces dropouts (white areas). Always store paper in a dry, warm storage area.
When purchasing pre-printed letterhead, make sure the supplier knows that it will be used in a laser printer. Low-melting temperature printing inks can remelt and cause ghosting on your page.
6) Why does a blank page eject after each print job?
Several setup problems might explain why blank pages eject before or after the file. Check the following.
Are extra carriage returns present at the end of the file? If so, eliminate them.
Are the top or bottom margins set correctly? If not, set them correctly
Is only one form feed command sent from the computer or network with each file? Check with your software people if needed. A form feed from the host plus the one you generate in your file could be the problem.
7) What might cause toner to rub off the page?
Generally, toner fuses very well to paper and will not rub off easily. It might be the paper being used, as previously discussed.
Fusing toner to the page requires heat and pressure from the fuser. Some printer models come from the factory with mechanisms to separate the upper and lower fuser rollers.
This relieves the pressure between the rollers to prevent flat spots on the pressure roller until used. Instructions in the packaging of the printer indicate how to either remove these or, if they are permanently installed in the printer, release them for printing. Check your user manual and make sure this has been done.
Proper fusing also requires the upper fuser roller to be smooth and clean. Some laser printers use a heated Teflon-M-coated aluminum roller to melt the toner into the fiber of the paper. Other printers utilize and ceramic heating element with a polymer film sleeve.
A damaged upper fuser roller or film sleeve, whose Teflon layer has been scratched or torn might cause poor toner adhesion.
Cleaning printers regularly helps prevent debris from building up in the fuser, reducing fusing problems.
8) How can downtime on a laser printer be reduced?
Some failures on laser printers cannot be predicted. With regular inspections, other troublesome mechanisms can be treated before they incapacitate the machine. Some printers are designed to shut down when the manufacturer "thinks" the machine will need to be serviced. Often, the machine will be running fine at the time.
Since there are so many factors including environment, paper, toner cartridges, and time in service, breakdowns may occur before that. The better you know your printer inside and out, the more likely you will see problems coming before they disable the machine. Here are a few telltale signs of potential problems:
Excessive toner builds up inside the printer.
Damaged rollers, gears, or other parts.
Shiny rubber rollers.
Ash-colored material built up on internal parts.
Empty screw holes.
Unusual sounds coming from the printer.
Increased frequency of paper jams.
Having your laser printer regularly cleaned and serviced is the best way to minimize downtime. A good laser printer technician knows the wear points on specific printers and will alert you about problems to come.
9) What are the most common problems with laser printers?
Because most laser printers share similar technology, they share some problems in common. From many years servicing printers, we have found the most common problems to be paper jams from worn rollers and fusing assembly malfunctions or damage.
Pickup rollers move paper from the paper tray or cassette to the next set of paper feed rollers in the machine. Pickup rollers start the paper moving using friction with the paper. Eventually, they begin to wear down and slip. Worn pick up rollers slow paper movement at the beginnings of the print cycle, causing paper jams. Depending on the machine, jams are likely to occur within 0 pages or sooner depending on the type of paper used.
Fusing (fuser or fixing) assembly damage or failure creates poor image quality or disables a printer. The typical fuser uses two rollers to heat and squeeze the image onto the paper in the final stage of printing. The upper roller contacting the top of the page is a tube of aluminum. It is heated from within by a long light bulb suspended at the center of the tube. The outer surface of the upper fuser roller is coated with a thin film of Teflon to keep the page from sticking to it. A scratched or torn Teflon M coating produces corresponding marks on the printouts.
Other symptoms from fuser failure include paper jams from worn or broken gears, or fuser heating problems resulting in a disabled machine, indicated by an error code such as "50 SERVICE (This error could be caused by something other than the fuser.)
Most often these symptoms require fuser repair or replacement
10) Which laser printer problems can be easily solved?
Marks, lines or other print defects could be caused by a defective toner cartridge or imaging unit. Always try another tone cartridge first before calling in a technician. Even one low on toner usually has enough in it to run a few test prints after rocking it back and forth to redistribute the toner.
If the problem goes away or changes, the problem is likely to be cartridge related. If the problem remains the same using another cartridge, the problem is more likely to be the printer, not the cartridge.
Certain white or black vertical lines can be eliminated by cleaning the printer. By vertical we mean parallel to the direction of the paper movement through the printer. Laser printers use mirrors, charge wires, and/or rollers to form the image on the page. When dirt builds on these items, the image quality degrades and streaks or smears form. Knowing where to clean is important to rid the printer of these problems.
Having a printer cleaned regularly helps prevent many minor annoyances such as squeaks from roller bushings, fan problems, and premature roller wear.
11) How often should a laser printer be cleaned?
As a general rule, cleaning a printer once a year is usually sufficient, depending on many factors:
pages printed per month
general printer condition
quality of toner cartridge used
Heavy users running 100,000 + pages a month should consider having the printer cleaned two or three times per year. This also depends on the speed of your printer. You be the judge. When you open your printer to change the cartridge take a look around How dirty does your printer look? Let common sense and best judgment be your guide.
12) What should be used to clean a laser printer?
Most items can be easily obtained from home or a local store
clean rags or toner wipes
vacuum with fine-particle filter (optional)
e mild cleaning solution (optional)
Use cleaning solutions inside the printer sparingly to avoid damaging sensitive electrical devices.
13) What is involved in cleaning a laser printer?
Procedures vary depending on the printer model. However, the following should be considered for basic cleaning:
cleaning optical mirrors
cleaning paper path, feed rollers, guide plates
cleaning electrical contacts
cleaning transfer area
inspecting normal wear parts
cleaning toner cartridge, paper tray, printer covers
For most laser printers, basic cleaning should take from about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Using a fine, soft brush before vacuuming helps loosen dirt and toner.
Use a fine-particle vacuum cleaner to prevent blowing fine toner out into the room. When using compressed air to blow off the dust, hold the vacuum pickup opposite the blow nozzle to catch the dust.
14) How much does it cost to fix a laser printer?
The average cost to fix a laser printer ranges from $150 to $350, depending on the nature of the problem and printer type. Replacing worn pickup rollers and fusers makes up the bulk of printer repairs. Tougher problems requiring more time and money to fix might lead you to consider replacing the machine with a newer model.
For low volume users, many replacement options are available. Investigate new printer options before spending money on an older model, since getting parts and service might be issued.
High volume users also have a good selection of new, replacement machines to choose from. In today's market, high volume printers offer many of the same options as expensive office copiers. Features may include multi-bin mailboxes, finishers (staplers), giant optional feeder units, envelope feeders, and other useful items.
15) What are the risks in working on laser printers?
Manufacturers build safety features into their machines to protect you and service people from harm. Light-blocking shutters prevent the laser light from emerging from the printer and safety switches prevent machine operation while cover doors are open. Never disable these features for any reason.
Just like working on any other machine powered by wall-plug power, turn off the power switch and unplug the printer power and computer cables beforehand, especially if you plan to remove printer covers.
Get help if you have to move a heavy printer. Use proper lifting techniques to prevent harming your back or limbs. Lift the machine from points where you can set the machine down without pinching your hands or feet underneath.
If you spill toner on your clothes, blow or vacuum it off as soon as possible. Or, use a toner cleaning cloth. Refrain from using liquid cleaners. Wash clothing in cold water: Otherwise toner might fix permanently in the fabric.
Avoid introducing liquids of any kind into the printer. Spraying cleaners on or inside the printer might damage critical imaging components.
Obviously, there are many other questions we and others have heard about laser printers, especially regarding image quality, error conditions, noises, and others.
Other Helpful Laser Printer Service Resources
Metrofuser is a leading global innovator, manufacturer of printer parts, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks. Products and services include hp printer parts, printers, and printer repair training. Parts include hp printer parts such as printer fusers, printer maintenance kits, and other hp printer replacement parts.
The company's, customers include office equipment dealerships, online retailers, repair centers and MPS service providers nationwide. Metrofuser has been named to Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies five consecutive years.