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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 Metrofuser.com.

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

Paper Jam Solutions For Laserjet Printers

Printer Service And Parts Glossary

Printer Service Error Codes

Developing a Critical HP Printer Parts Stocking Strategy

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