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Colour Laser Printers

I have long held the view that compatible toner cartridges should never be used in colour laser printers unless they come from a reputable source.

Last week we were called out to a Samsung multifunction printer that was putting a smudgy grey band down the side of the printed page about 1cm wide. After performing all the tests we could to identify the reason for these unsightly bands we discovered it was the compatible black toner cartridge causing the problem.

It is not unusual for toner cartridges, even originals, to cause print defects but our experience tells us that compatibles cause them many, many times more frequently.

So, the customer had another compatible black cartridge in stock so that was put into the printer and the printer turned on. After the machine had initialised there was a message on the screen saying the black cartridge was not recognised. No matter what we tried we could not get this cartridge recognised.

So we put the previous offending cartridge back into the printer anSamsung CLX-6220d the customer said they would send these two defective compatible cartridges back to their supplier for replacement.

You will remember that I qualified my opening statement by saying ‘provided they come from a reputable source’. Well, you would think the local stationery supplier would be a reputable source and you would be right. By ‘reputable source’ I mean the source of manufacture. These cartridges had the ISO 9000 and ISO 14001 symbols, the box was very colourful but no sign of a manufacturers name or even a country of origin…..and therein lies the problem.

How do you know that they are from a reputable source if that source keeps themselves a secret. And if the manufacturer does not want to be named what does that tell you about them.

Anyway, back to the story. Having left the customer with a two defective black compatible toner cartridges to be replaced by the local stationery company we were surprised the very next day to be called out to the same printer with another problem. This time there was a clunking sound coming from the right rear of the printer. Not having the space to dismantle this large printer in the office we took it back to our workshop where we had more space.

What we found after testing the parts and looking for a gear with a tooth missing was that the noise stopped if we removed one particular motor. The motor worked fine so it had to be something driven by this motor. Tracing through the gears to establish what this particular motor was for we found that it drives the stirring mechanism in the toner cartridges. We then studied the toner cartridges and found that the stirring mechanism in the yellow toner cartridge was jammed solid, it would not turn at all and therefore the gears driving it were making this clunking sound in there effort to stir the yellow toner.

We re-assembled the printer and returned it to the customer with our findings. Luckily, or was it, they had another compatible yellow toner cartridge from the same unknown origin in stock so we put that in the printer and turned it on. Sadly, this toner was also not recognised by the printer.

We now have four defective compatible toner cartridges from the same origin in as many days. The customer has paid us twice to attend to their printer issue which has turned out not to be an issue with the printer but with the compatible toner cartridges. Whatever the customer has saved here on purchasing compatible colour toner cartridges from an unknown origin they have then spent on correcting this issue so there were no savings at all, only down time when their only printer could not be used. I would add that we did provide a loan printer so they could work whilst we had their printer in the workshop.

So in summary, the customer had purchased compatible colour toner cartridges 4 of which proved to be defective in as many days. I therefore stick to my conviction that you should never use compatible toner cartridges in colour laser printers unless they come from a reputable source.