Monthly Archives

August 2013

Toner Refill

What is A Transfer Kit?

Transfer unit

What is A Transfer Kit? 

The transfer unit is part of the laser printer mechanism wherein the image is impressed on the paper before the fusing process. It is found beyond the photosensitive drum and before the fuser assembly. Like most part of the printer, the transferring process also involves passing through the different parts of the unit. After the developing of image on the photosensitive the drum, the paper then passes through two rollers (upper and lower). The lower roller is charged with electrostatic attracting the toner to stick to the paper from behind to form the image. The rollers finally imprints the image on the paper while at the same time clean up excess or loose toner and deposits it in the toner waste hopper.

More tips and tricks to printer maintenance and how you can save on printing supplies from the Printer Encyclopedia.

Transfer kit vs Maintenance kit

There is very much a big difference between the transfer kit and maintenance kit, although both contain a laser printer’s replacement parts. The maintenance kit or the preventive maintenance kit has the basic and general parts for replacement. As we know, each unit or mechanism of a printer has a lifespan. The kits are used to replace these units’ assembly so overusing may be prevented. The maintenance kit usually includes a transfer roller, multiple paper tray feed and retention rollers and some has pick up roller, Fuser, and even separation pads depending on the manufacturer. It may take thousands of cycles or years before a moving printer part needs replacement, however, it is always recommended to have one at a ready.

What’s in the kit?

transfer kit

On the other hand, the image transfer kit solely contains replacement parts for the transfer unit, which includes transfer drum, belt, charger, cleaning roller, and a charcoal filter. It would take more than 50,000 page yield for CMYK and at least more than 100,000 pages for monochrome before another replacement is required for the transfer unit. No worries how you will be able to figure out if it’s time to change the parts because the transfer unit also has a counter that also needs to be reset whenever replacement occurs. Don’t forget to calibrate though after resetting so you know that everything is still in order.

What needs replacement?

transfer kit


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The transfer unit is a moving part of the laser printer and therefore prone to problems and eventually wear out. Transferring of images requires precise movement of the transfer rollers and transfer belt for the toner. They must be correctly aligned so the image on the paper is accurately placed. As mentioned, the transfer unit is also responsible for clearing the excess toner so there wouldn’t be any build up or loose toner in any other part of the printer. When these parts are defective, unclean or worn out, expect numerous cases of poor quality printouts and other possible interior problems.

Laser Printers

What is a Printer Fuser Unit?

fuser kit

In a matter of seconds, a paper passes through the printer and comes out with high quality texts and graphics imprinted on it. The printer is a machine made of different parts and assemblies. The fuser unit is one of these parts that play a vital role in printing. This is where toner is melted and compressed to leave impressions on paper with the use of heat.

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The fuser unit usually comes as a removable unit with parts that needs to be replaced from time to time. The printer fuser assembly is seen as two heated rollers (some even with very thin flexible metal coating) – a reason why papers come out warm and crisp on trays. However, there is more than meets the eye. The fusing is an intricate and exact process of pressing the toner on paper with heat; along with other mechanical and electrical parts.

Parts of the Fuser Unit

what is a fuser unit

Heat roller. There are two pairs of rollers in the fuser assembly. One is made of a hollow tube loaded with heating properties and the other fitted with rubber backing that is responsible for compression and having a better grip on paper. Both rollers are also coated with Teflon (a similar coating found in non-stick frying pans) which keeps toner and paper from sticking as it passes through.

Discharge lamp. Also known as the quartz lamp, the discharge lamp is an ultraviolet light source (strong bluish light) made of mercury vapor in an arc tube. This is located internally in rollers which makes the heating process easier and faster.

Role of Fuser Unit Assembly in the Printing Process

printing process

Fusing concludes the printing process. It covers the final steps of creating the desired impression on the paper. Although much of image development occurs on the drum unit, the two rollers of the fuser unit are responsible for the final output.

As paper passes through the fuser assembly, the upper roller melts and fuses the toner on paper via the internal quartz lamps at 200 °C (392 °F). From there, the plastic in toner is melted and thereafter bonded with paper. It is necessary for both rollers to be heated at the same temperature in order to leave high quality impressions and in a faster pace. The slower the fuser heats up, the more decelerated the printing speed will be. This can be observed in inexpensive printers or those units set on eco-mode.

In fact, the warm-up time in printers is set to give rollers enough time to heat up. During the fusing process, the paper faces the heated roller while the other roller compresses the toner to create the desired impression before making its way out to the output tray. The same process applies to color laser printers; only it is repeated 4 times or as many times depending on the number of toner color used.

Fuser Unit Maintenance

The fuser unit uses heat and pressure during the printing process. Frequent printing therefore makes it prone to wearing out. Keeping this printer component in good shape requires periodic cleaning and replacement of the parts of its assembly.
More often than not, a bad or broken fuser causes numerous print defects leading to wasted supplies and energy.

What users need to look out for? 

Toner Powder Build Up. During the printing process, toner powder latches not only on the paper’s surface but also on other printer parts. This predisposes the machine to toner build-up along with other dust particles. When left uncleaned, it causes scratches on the fuser’s surface which is responsible for the linear defects on printouts. Once these lines appear over printouts, it is time to replace the fuser assembly. In most printers, a warning sign is prompted on screen to alert the user on the need for installing new parts.

Overheat. In some cases, fusers may overheat or not warm up at all– both of which causes the printer to halt printing. Overheat transpires when the printer prints more pages than its stipulated monthly duty cycle. A small workgroup printer for example that frequently handles large volume print jobs would eventually succumb to overheating the fuser unit. With this, the printer will flash an error message and desist with print jobs until the fuser unit cools down.

Power Issue. When printer does not have enough power to heat up the rollers, this leads to malfunction or defective printouts. What is therefore recommended is to provide the printer and computer with direct power supply from the wall sockets instead of the surge protector.

Fuser Unit Replacement

fuser unit
The rollers are the easiest to wear out. Therefore, constant replacement is needed. There are two types of kits most printer owners use: the fuser kit and maintenance kit. Both kits are supplied with almost the same replacement parts. The difference lies in the brand of the kit and printer.

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The Fuser Kit 

As its name suggests, the fuser kit comes supplied with the printer fuser assembly or heating roller unit. Some parts of the fuser assembly are sold separately. Thus, users can opt to buy only the heating roller (upper roller) or pressure roller (lower roller). Some fuser kits may include the fuser film in the package. The mentioned parts are also supplied in some maintenance kits. Fuser kits are available from both OEMs and remanufacturers.

Printer Troubleshooting

How To Clean The Transfer Belt In A Color Laser Printer

Transfer Belt
Transfer Belt
Okidata C5200n 5400 Transfer Belt Unit OEM

Color laser printers have a more complex printing process which enables them to produce precise prints without color fringing or streaking on the edges of the colored regions. Some color laser-class printers use a rotating belt called a “ transfer belt ” to further color registration accuracy. Although cleaning it is not necessarily required, regular maintenance can help extend the printer component’s life expectancies as well as optimize the machine’s performance.

What Is A Transfer Belt?

It is a rotating belt that is typically large which carries the mixture of different colors of toner particles. Color laser printers use the CMYK color combination. This means a color laser-class printer will typically have 4 toner cartridges. The transfer belt will pass in front of all the four cartridges colored as cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). The cartridges will then precisely apply each toner layer to the belt which will then apply the combined layers uniformly onto the paper. This process happens in less than a second but will have significant effects on the printouts. This printing technique widens the color tone range of the CMYK color combination. This will greatly improve quality of color outputs. Newer color laser-class printers usually use this technology to produce better color image printouts.

Transfer Belt

Why Does a Transfer Belt Need Cleaning?

Like most laser printer components, a transfer belt needs cleaning to prevent print quality deterioration. Although the belt does not need cleaning as often as the other parts like the drum unit, the excess toner from cartridges as well as dust will build up which will affect the machine’s performance. The belt will need cleaning, especially after suffering from a major toner leaky. The printer may suffer from issues known as registration errors which occurs when printing color images. Registration errors can cause blurring, unintended color fringing, and light or dark streaks on the edges of the printouts and may even occur all throughout the outputs. In order to avoid such work-halting issues, maintenance is highly recommended.

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How to Clean a Transfer Belt?

A transfer belt can be cleaned using a cleaning cycle with a software or through manual cleaning. The type of cleaning varies depending on the severity of the problem. Usually, minor streaking and blurring can be fixed using a cleaning cycle with a software. However for the major registration issues, manual cleaning is recommended as it may need replacing depending on the state of the transfer belt.

**Cleaning Cycle With Software

Step 1 – Install the color laser printer utilities that come along with the printer. For best results, users can download the latest drivers and utilities from the OEM’s website. For those using the included CD/DVD that came with the printer package, simply insert the disk into the disk drive and run the setup. Downloaded drivers and utilities usually come in compressed, installing a decompression software like WinRar should do the trick. Simply extract the files into the selected folder then run the setup.

Step 2 – Once the utilities are installed, look for the “Laser Printer Cleaning Cycle”. This is usually found on the tool bar under printer maintenance. Follow the steps indicated in the transfer belt maintenance window. There are some printers that require removal of some parts so be sure to do so to avoid issues. Do note that this will consume some toner in the process. Be sure to have enough before proceeding with the process.

Step 3 – After the process is done, restart the printer then test print. If problems persist consult a professional.

transfer_belt detach

**Manual Cleaning

Step 1 – Read the manual before doing anything else to prevent further damage. This will also simplify the cleaning process as manuals usually provide enough information regarding transfer belt maintenance.

Step 2 – Turn off the color laser printer and unplug it from the power source.

Step 3 – Open the access door of the printer and locate the transfer belt. Depending on the kind of printer,toner cartridges may have to be removed. It would be safer to refer to the steps indicated in the manual.

Step 4 – Remove the transfer belt and check how severe the problem is. Although it can be cleaned without removing it from the printer by wiping it with a piece of soft cloth, removing it is recommended to get the best results.

Step 5 – Use a blower to blow out the excess toner out of the printer. This is done to make sure that excess toner and dust particles are flushed out. After doing so, gently wipe the transfer belt with a soft cloth. Do not use alcohol as it may damage the belt. Also note that the belt is light sensitive, exposing it to light for an extended period of time may render it useless.

Step 6 – Once the transfer belt is clear of dust and toner residue, reinstall it into the laser printer. After reinstalling everything, turn on the printer and test print. If problems persist, it would be best to call a professional.

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Transfer belts may not be found in some color laser printers but it is a key component for those that have it. They may not be as talked about as toner cartridges but without keeping them at their best state, color registration precision could only be fair or even be outright poor. Avoid registration errors and keep top quality color prints by taking care of the parts inside the machine.

Laser Printers

What Is A Drum Unit?

Laser printers can dish out quality printouts at faster speeds than inkjets. This is the primary reason why these are widely used in demanding working environments. Laser printers are commonly used for document printing. Moreover, the significant developments in laser printing technology such as colored toner formulation enabled printing in color to prosper tremendously.

One of the key components in high quality laser color prints is the printer drum unit. Despite its important function, not many users are in the know of its role in laser printer operation.

What Is A Drum Unit

Definition – What is a drum unit?

The printer drum unit is an important print component. Its primary role is to attract the toner particles by way of electrostatic polarities. Also known as image units, the design of the drum vary depending on the printer model and brand.

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Recent models make use of toner cartridges with built-in drum units. The combination cartridge and drum set up allows the printer to operate at better print speeds. This is because the cartridge and drum unit can sync better and therefore operate at reduced response times as compared to printers loading a separate toner cartridge and image unit. However, combination cartridges are not cost-efficient in the long run. In most cases, the drum unit is still serviceable when the cartridge’s toner supply runs out. Thus, a working drum unit gets disposed with the empty toner cartridge.

Function – How Does It Work?

The laser printer drum operates as the photo conductive unit which serves as the image processing core. Basically, it is a set of parts that specifically work to transfer and paint a digital image right into the surface of the drum. The document to be printed is transformed into a raster image by the computer and sent into the printer. These processes take place during printing.

Charging the Drum – The printer drum unit will be positively charged. The electrostatic character of the drum unit can be achieved in 2 different ways depending on the printer mechanism. Some printers use a corona wire with electric current running through it. The newer printers use a separately charged roller instead of the corona wire. These are two completely different ways to charge the drum unit but both basically follow the same principle.

Recreating the Image – Tiny laser beams from the printer laser scanning unit draw patterns on the surface of the drum unit to recreate the image. Initially, the surface of the drum and the toner particles have positive polarities.

As the drum rotates, the laser beam is used to paint the image or texts. Through the action of the laser beam the formed image becomes negatively charged, thus allowing the positively charged toner to cling to the surface of the drum. Excess toner is then wiped away by the laser drum cleaning blade to guarantee the best printout quality.

Transferring Image to Medium – Toner on the printer drum unit will then be transferred to the medium which is usually paper or transparency. Once complete, toner and paper moves into the fuser roller for final bonding. The printout will come out a little warm but smudge-proof.

fuction of drum unit

Importance – Can The Laser Printer Function Without It?

Laser printers rely on the printer drum unit in creating and transfusing images into the medium. This means that without it, the printer will not be able to produce any printout. While toner cartridges are important, it is the drum that makes printing possible.

Frequency of Replacement – How often do drums need to be replaced?

Laser printer drum units like toner cartridges have finite shelf life. Most image unit last 2 to 3 toner cartridges or refills but they eventually wear off. The laser printer will turn out poor quality prints even after replacing or refilling the toner cartridge when a defective or exhausted drum unit is used. Replacing the drum in this scenario is therefore necessary.

Compatible Consumable – Are There Cheaper Alternatives?

OEM printer parts are usually very expensive. Consumers can opt for cheaper alternatives such as a compatible drum unit or compatible drum assembly depending on the printer model.

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Compatible drum units are aftermarket replacements for non combination cartridges where the drum unit is unattached to the cartridge. The compatible drum assembly on the other hand replaces the drum of combination cartridges or toner cartridges with built-in drum units. Both are more affordable options to OEM counterparts but offer different levels of cost-efficiency.