We will take you through the details of making this adjustment on HP and Lexmark printers. The two manufacturers take quite different approaches to this, but all HP printers that have this feature implement it in much the same way, and likewise for Lexmark.
So we will consider only one model from each manufacturer: the HP LaserJet 4050 and the Lexmark Optra S 1650. (NOTE: This feature is not present on every printer model, but most of the more recent mid-to-upper level monochrome printers have it.)
HP LaserJet 4050
There are two parts to the setup procedure, and both parts are essential.
Part 1 - Define the paper type.
Part 2 - Define a temperature for that paper type.
All of the relevant settings can be found in the printer’s paper handling menu. (NOTE: You also need to define paper size and type on your computer in the software that is generating the print job. We will not go into detail on this, because (a) the details vary considerably from one program to another, and (b) we are mainly concerned with printer setup in this article.)
Part 1 - Defining the paper type
First, note that there is a “type” setting for each cassette (the 4050 can have one, two, or three paper cassettes). This is primarily used (along with the paper size information sensed by the printer) to make sure that paper is pulled from the correct place; when sending a print job, the computer will normally ask for a specific size and type of paper, and the printer will look for a cassette that contains paper of that size and type.
As we will see when we get to the second part of the procedure, this “type” setting also helps the printer choose the correct fuser temperature for each paper type.
Next, look at the tray 1 settings. The basic setting is “Tray 1 Mode.” This can be set to “First” or “Cass.” When it’s set to “First,” the printer always looks for paper “first” in tray 1. If there’s paper there, the printer takes it, without caring about size or type—it trusts that you have the correct size and type of paper loaded in tray 1.
If there is no paper in tray 1, it functions as a manual feed tray in this mode—if the printer doesn’t find the desired size and type of paper in any of the cassettes, it will prompt you to insert that size and type in tray 1. But again, it will trust you to do that correctly.
If “Tray 1 Mode” is set to “Cass,” the printer treats tray 1 exactly as if it were a cassette. In this mode, it does care about size and type, so you will find settings for “Tray 1 Size” and “Tray 1 Type” in the Paper Handling Menu (these do not appear when “Tray 1 Mode” is set to “First”).
The “Size” setting is there because the printer has no way to physically sense paper size in tray 1 (which it can do in real cassettes). The “Type” setting works just like it does for the real cassettes.
Part 2 - Defining the temperature
Further along in the Paper Handling Menu, you will find “CONFIGURE FUSER MODE MENU = NO*.” After changing this to “YES,” you will find eleven additional menu items, each corresponding to the eleven allowable paper types for the 4050 (the number of types may be different on other printer models).
You can set the temperature individually for each paper type. Default settings are “TRNSPRNCY = LOW,” “ROUGH = HIGH,” and “NORMAL” for all other types. If a given paper type has a tendency to curl, you may want to try lowering the temperature for that paper type.
If toner doesn’t seem to fuse well on certain paper types (typically labels), try a higher temperature.
If the printer’s power is cycled and you go back to this menu, you will find “CONFIGURE FUSER MODE MENU = NO*” again. This is simply to prevent inadvertent changes—it doesn’t mean that your temperature settings have been lost.
If you change “NO” to “YES,” so that the temperature settings show up in the menu again, you will see that they are still the same as the way you set them.The printer has no way to physically sense paper type, so it relies entirely on what you have defined in the menu.
This is why both parts of the procedure are important. For example, suppose that you have set “LABELS = HIGH.” The printer will use the higher fuser temperature whenever it pulls paper from a cassette that has been defined as “TYPE = LABELS,” and only in that case.
In particular, when tray 1 is set to “First” (and therefore has no type definition), the printer will use the “NORMAL” fuser temperature on anything printed from tray 1, no matter what type of paper is in tray 1. This is somewhat inconvenient, as tray 1 is the most likely source for the paper types that would require special temperature settings.
This defect has been remedied on the 4100 and later models. On these printers, to continue the above example, if the print job defines the paper type as “LABELS,” and you are feeding from tray 1 (set to “First”), the printer will assume that you have labels in tray 1 and accordingly use the higher temperature. This is not the case on the 4000 and 4050.
Lexmark Optra S 1650
You can find the adjustment in the EP Setup Menu in Diagnostics Mode. Here’s the step-by-step procedure:
Turn the printer off. Press and hold the “Go” and “Return” buttons while turning the printer back on.When “Performing self test” appears on the display, release the buttons and wait for the printer to finish initializing.
You should now be in Diagnostics Mode. Use the menu key to find the “EP Setup” menu and select it.Use the menu key again to find “Fuser Temp” and select it. You will now have a choice of three temperature settings: Normal, Lower, and Lowest. Use the menu key to find your choice and then “Select” to save it. To return to normal operation, press “Return” to get back to the menu level and then find and select “Exit Diagnostics.”
Note that this procedure is considerably simpler than HP’s. But it is also not as flexible. It doesn’t allow you to set different temperatures for different paper types, and it only allows you to lower temperature from the default setting (“Normal”), not raise it.
This feature in Lexmark printers is mainly intended to deal with paper curl and other problems that can be caused by fuser temperature being too high. It may still be worth checking this if you want to raise the temperature, though, because someone may have previously set it to “Lower” or “Lowest.”
When early laser printer models had fusing problems, you had no option but to replace the fuser, and that same thinking can carry over to the newer models if you’re not careful. But most newer models do give you other options. One of the most powerful options is the ability to control fuser temperature, and on HP printers, to fine-tune it for different paper types. When confronted with fusing problems, especially if the problems only occur on heavier media, make sure to try adjusting fuser temperature before concluding that the fuser is bad. It’s not always a simple adjustment, but it’s worth the effort, and this article should help you with the details of making the adjustment.
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