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How Cheap Paper Reduces The Life of Laser Printers and How to Stop It

The Silent Culprit of a Growing Number of Laser Printer Problems

Metrofuser’s testing department prints over 5 million copies on nearly 3 million sheets of paper each year.  Over the past 11 years and in the process of repairing over 500,000 HP printer parts and laser printer devices, the company has seen the effects of both good and bad paper.

One of the top printer manufacturers funded a study shedding light on this growing problem. From the research, a white paper titled “Laser Printer Performance and Reliability” was developed and is a great collateral handout to educate customers and end users.  

The study found that printers using higher quality “certified” paper operated nine times longer while the “non-certified” brands experience 400% more faults (misfeeds, double feeds, misprints, errors).  Links to this white paper can be found at

Chasing Ghosts

It’s difficult enough to solve office printer issues under the best of circumstances.  Even the most seasoned, experienced technicians will often spend time chasing jams and image defects that disappear as soon as they walk in the door.  Metrofuser’s testing department receives in warrantied HP printer parts on a daily basis where the reported defect cannot be reproduced – even after hundreds of pages are printed.  

Other Helpful Resources

While these mysterious and elusive problems can be caused by a multitude of factors, inconsistent and declining paper quality must be taken into consideration. Scrutinizing paper and how it’s stored should be on the short list of initial potential causes before moving on to hardware changes and printer part swaps.

Degrading Paper Quality

The scarcity of economically viable supplies of high-quality pulp in Asia has resulted in these papers having generally higher filler content than papers produced in North America and Western Europe.  

Most of the Asian mills making lower-quality office papers must buy pulp and fillers at market prices. Pulp is not only expensive but prices are rising rapidly because many Chinese mills are increasing capacity faster than the available pulp supply.

Along with talc found mostly in India, calcium carbonate is one of the most common paper filler materials. Particles of calcium carbonate are produced either by grinding or by chemical precipitation.

Ground calcium carbonate is often called “GCC” and precipitated calcium carbonate is called “PCC”. Low-grade GCC has large, irregular, sharp-edge particles with a very wide distribution of particle sizes. Commercial, low-grade GCC can also contain impurities, such as quartz. These particles are damaging to the paper path components, fuser and toner cartridge.

Excessive Dust is Not Normal

A symptom of using this kind of bad paper is a buildup of excessive white dust.  Inspecting the printer around the paper output and paper path areas at around 50,000 pages and/or after printer maintenance and cleanings will tell you if the paper you are using is introducing particles into your print environment.  

Loose filler particles will lead to printer reliability issues while the abrasive effects that caused the dust damages the toner cartridge and paper path component at a granular level

Metrofuser tested 6 brands of paper in the same HP P4515 Printer.  The paper was tested out of the box and under controlled and uniform conditions in a 200-page simulation.  Inconsistent degrees of quality were found across the non-certified brands of paper.

 Failures included drop-out image defects, dull grainy prints and declining toner adhesion, even over a relatively short page run.  BLI Certified and ColorLok outperformed other brands consistently.

Brand Country of origin Results/Notes Price

  • ColorLok Certified North America Pass: Brilliant Vivid Blacks $35

  • BLI Certified North America Pass: $34

  • Brand B North America Fail: ghosting $33

  • Big Box Brand Brazil Fail: ghosting $33

  • Closeout Deal A China Fail: ghosting $31

  • Closeout Deal B Indonesia Fail: dull grainy prints $29


Paper Selection

Metrofuser has found both ColorLok® and BLI Certified Paper provide clearly superior performance.  Printers are more reliable and are able to maintain image quality over more pages when compared to abrasive, large-particle filler papers.

In addition to experiencing significantly fewer paper jams and other errors, these papers leave behind less dust and toner contaminants, which could potentially contribute to long-term printer reliability and image quality issues.

Testing for these certifications involve running roughly one million sheets through dozens of different copiers, printers, fax machines, digital duplicators and multifunctional devices while assessing packaging quality, cut/edge attributes, image clarity and crease permanence, as well as numerous "runnability" metrics. The tests prove which papers are least likely to suffer from image quality or sheet-feed problems.  

Certified papers are sold under various brands through retail, Internet, catalog, and contract stationers. Consumers can ask and look for the BLI or ColorLok® seal of approval on cartons and reams of imaging paper. 

Colorlok Brands

  1. Member's Mark - Sam's Club

  2. Antalis - Europe

  3. WB Mason Blizzard

  4. Copamex - Latin America

  5. Domtar - North America

  6. Georgia Pacific - North America

  7. HP - Worldwide

  8. Inapa - Europe

  9. International Paper - Worldwide

  10. JK - India

  11. Metsa Board - Worldwide

  12. Mondi - Europe

  13. Office Depot

  14. Papyrus - Europe

  15. Staples - Americas

  16. Stora Enso - Europe

  17. Suzano - Latin America

BLI Certified Brands

  1. Boise X-9 Multi-Use Paper

  2. Pioneer Paper

  3. Navigator

  4. Diverse Earth paper

  5. GP Spectrum Multi-Use Paper

  6. Yes Paper

  7. Future Paper

  8. Many Others

Educate End Users Now

The toner and printer parts industry as a whole can improve quality if we work together to educate service companies and end users to a move to standardizing their paper usage and selection. Education before a problem arises carries more weight, even if they wait to change when there is a problem.

 An emphasis and adherence to quality products from the start will lead to a satisfied customer whereas trying to educate the customer at the time of the problem may be perceived as finger-pointing and scapegoating.

Standards for MPS Providers

Managed print services are an all-in-one solution for large fleets providing maintenance, toner and devices. Typically, however, the acquisition of paper is left to the customer. While MPS providers have the financial liability and performance accountability for uptime, they have little control or knowledge with regard to the quality of the paper. Paper certifications allow MPS providers to update contracts with specifications regarding standards.

 When it’s imperative for the dealer to minimize service calls and bad toner cartridges in order to maximize profitability, paper must be a consideration.  Poor paper quality can lead to unnecessary service calls, sometimes multiple services calls as the technician chases a sporadic problem.  

Insist on quality paper usage.  Inspect the end user’s paper when issues arise and when customers fail to comply, test their defective machines using high quality paper before swapping out HP printer parts.


Degrading paper has been quietly increasing costly callbacks for service companies and warranty costs for remanufacturers of HP printer parts and toner. Everyone can save by utilizing certified paper brands. Metrofuser will be pushing this knowledge out to all its dealers thru a massive marketing campaign over the next three months. We welcome others to do the same.


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