The secret behind the functionality of photocopiers and printers
A photocopier relies on the principles of electricity and photoconductivity to work. There's a light-sensitive photoreceptor inside the machine that first attracts and then transfers toner particles onto plain paper to form a copy of a document.
A photocopier works on two fundamental principles: the fact that opposite charges attract and the tendency of certain materials to become more electrically conductive after absorbing electromagnetic radiation, such as UV, infrared, visible light etc. (photoconductivity).
Most modern photocopiers rely on a technology known as xerography, which is essentially a dry photocopying technique. It involves using electrically-charged particles to attract and then deposit toner particles onto a piece of paper.
How does a laser photocopier work?
When you print something, your computer sends a vast stream of electronic data (typically a few megabytes or million characters) to your laser printer. An electronic circuit in the printer figures out what all this data means and what it needs to look like on the page. It makes a laser beam scan back and forth across a drum inside the printer, building up a pattern of static electricity. The static electricity attracts onto the page a kind of powdered ink called toner. Finally, as in a photocopier, a fuser unit bonds the toner to the paper.
- Millions of bytes (characters) of data stream into the printer from your computer.
- An electronic circuit in the printer (effectively, a small computer in its own right) figures out how to print this data, so it looks correct on the page.
- The electronic circuit activates the corona wire. This is a high-voltage wire that gives a static electric charge to anything nearby.
- The corona wire charges up the photoreceptor drum, so the drum gains a positive charge spread uniformly across its surface.
- At the same time, the circuit activates the laser to make it draw the image of the page onto the drum. The laser beam doesn't move: it bounces off a moving mirror that scans it over the drum. Where the laser beam hits the drum, it erases the positive charge that was there and creates an area of negative charge instead. Gradually, an image of the entire page builds upon the drum: where the page should be white, there are areas with a positive charge; where the page should be black, there are areas of negative charge.
- An ink roller is touching the photoreceptor drum coats it with tiny particles of powdered ink (toner). The toner has been given a positive electrical charge, so it sticks to the parts of the photoreceptor drum that have a negative charge (remember that opposite electrical charges attract in the same way that opposite poles of a magnet attract). No ink is attracted to the parts of the drum that have a positive charge. An inked image of the page builds up on the drum.
- A sheet of paper from a hopper on the other side of the printer feeds up toward the drum. As it moves along, the paper is given a strong negative electrical charge by another corona wire.
- When the paper moves near the drum, its negative charge attracts the positively charged toner particles away from the drum. The image is transferred from the drum onto the paper but, for the moment, the toner particles are just resting lightly on the paper's surface.
- The inked paper passes through two hot rollers (the fuser unit). The heat and pressure from the rollers fuse the toner particles permanently into the fibres of the paper.
- The printout emerges from the side of the copier. Thanks to the fuser unit, the paper is still warm. It's hot off the press!
How does an inkjet printer work?
No matter where you are reading this article, you most likely have a printer nearby. And there's a very good chance that it is an inkjet printer. Since their introduction in the latter half of the 1980s, inkjet printers have grown in popularity and performance while dropping significantly in price.
An inkjet printer is any printer that places extremely small droplets of ink onto paper to create an image. If you ever look at a piece of paper that has come out of an inkjet printer, you know that:
- The dots are extremely small (usually between 50 and 60 microns in diameter), so small that they are tinier than the diameter of a human hair (70 microns)!
- The dots are positioned very precisely, with resolutions of up to 1440x720 dots per inch (dpi).
- The dots can have different colours combined to create photo-quality images.
In this article, you will learn about the various parts of an inkjet printer and how these parts work together to create an image. You will also learn about the ink cartridges and the special paper some inkjet printers use.
Impact vs. Non-impact
There are several major printer technologies available. These technologies can be broken down into two main categories with several types in each:
These printers have a mechanism that touches the paper in order to create an image. There are two main impact technologies:
- Dot-matrix printers use a series of small pins to strike a ribbon coated with ink, causing the ink to transfer to the paper at the point of impact.
- Character printers are computerized typewriters. They have a ball or series of bars with actual characters (letters and numbers) embossed on the surface. The appropriate character is struck against the ink ribbon, transferring the character's image to the paper. Character printers are fast and sharp for basic text, but very limited for other use.
These printers do not touch the paper when creating an image. Inkjet printers are part of this group, which includes:
- Inkjet printers, which are described in this article, use a series of nozzles to spray drops of ink directly on the paper.
- Laser printers, use dry ink (toner), static electricity, and heat to place and bond the ink onto the paper.
- Solid ink printers contain sticks of wax-like ink that are melted and applied to the paper. The ink then hardens in place.
- Dye-sublimation printers have a long roll of transparent film that resembles sheets of red-, blue-, yellow- and grey-coloured cellophane stuck together end to end. Embedded in this film are solid dyes corresponding to the four basic colours used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). The print head uses a heating element that varies in temperature, depending on the amount of a particular colour that needs to be applied. The dyes vaporize and permeate the glossy surface of the paper before they return to solid form. The printer does a complete pass over the paper for each of the basic colours, gradually building the image.
- Thermal wax printers are something of a hybrid of dye-sublimation and solid ink technologies. They use a ribbon with alternating CMYK colour bands. The ribbon passes in front of a print head that has a series of tiny heated pins. The pins cause the wax to melt and adhere to the paper, where it hardens in place.
- Thermal autochrome printers have the colour in the paper instead of in the printer. There are three layers (cyan, magenta and yellow) in the paper, and each layer is activated by the application of a specific amount of heat. The print head has a heating element that can vary in temperature. The print head passes over the paper three times, providing the appropriate temperature for each colour layer as needed.
Out of all of these incredible technologies, inkjet printers are by far the most popular. The only technology that comes close today is laser printers.
What additional functions do I get with an all-in-one office printer?
Whether you call the office machine a 5-in-1, multifunction or all-in-one, these terms describe a printer type that you can purchase in retail outlets or online. A multifunction printer combines several office machines into one, allowing you to have more space for other items in your office. A 5-in-1 printer can vary greatly in quality and price, depending on the manufacturer and model.
Depending on which printer you choose, multifunction printers print documents from your productivity software either in black and white or colour ink. They can be laser printers or inkjet printers. Printing functions vary by speed and resolution. When you look at a printer's speed, you look at how many pages per minute, or PPM, the printer can print. The PPM varies because black and white printing are generally faster than colour printing. The higher the PPM, the faster the printer prints your documents. The quality of the printer also matters. Quality is measured in the number of dots per inch or DPI. DPI is the amount of ink produced by the printer in a 1-inch area. In contrast, all printers can print documents, printers with higher DPI print high-quality printouts like photos.
A 5-in-1 printer takes the place of a scanner and a photocopier for some offices. Scanners will capture an image from a printed page, both text and images, and convert them into digital format. A photocopier makes a reproduction of text and images and prints out the results. Like with printing, you are looking for how quickly the multifunction printer produces copies and scans. Since you want scans and photocopies that are accurate, the resolution of the scan or photocopy needs to be high, so the copy looks like the original.
All-in-one printers include faxing as one of its functions, allowing you to connect the printer to a telephone jack or to your computer for faxing services. When you receive or send a fax, the printer converts the electronic signals into text and images and prints them out. As scanning and printing, you look for resolution and speed for the output of your faxed documents, but you also want to look at how much fax memory is included in the printer. Look for memory capacity to see how many pages the printer can store while faxes arrive or are sent. A higher capacity means more faxes can be sent to you while it is printing.
Most 5-in-1 printers feature USB ports so you can connect your printer to your digital camera and print directly from the camera. Some printers have memory card bays, allowing you to remove your memory card from your digital camera and print the photos or enable you to move the images to your computer.
How do I connect a photocopier to my computer network?
There are a number of ways in which you can connect your photocopier to your computer. If it is just one computer, then it can be connected via USB. If you're sharing your photocopier amongst a number of computers, the photocopier can be connected via your network, to allow every user in the company to print and scan wirelessly. By connecting your photocopier to your network, your IT Manager or IT provider has more control over its functions and can monitor the machine more easily.
The network and training team will be on hand to help you get the printer working via an Ethernet connection. They will run through the following steps:
- Turn the photocopier off
- Connect the Ethernet cable to the LAN port on the connection panel of the photocopier
- Connect the other side of the cable into one of the open ports on your network switch. You will have to position the photocopier close to a network port for it to be networked.
- Turn on the photocopier
- Turn on your computer and connect to your network
- Install the printer driver for the specified photocopier.
- Enter the 'Control Panel', open the 'Network and Sharing Centre' and click the name of the photocopier to access this device on your network.
Once these steps have been completed on all laptops, desktops and mobile devices, you will be able to use your networked photocopier from any linked computer, laptop or mobile device without having to connect it, making it incredibly efficient directly. Our network and training team will then provide your staff with full training, ensuring that everyone is able to use the photocopier efficiently.
What sorts of breakdown are common with office photocopiers?
Photocopiers are an office staple. Whether you rely on a single or multifunction machine, there's no denying an office photocopier can be busy as the staff themselves!
Without regular servicing, the demand can lead to copy problems such as paper jams, cartridge and toner issues, streaks or lines on paper, wrinkled pages, discoloured printing, and random spots across your prints.
Thankfully, the most common photocopier problems can usually be fixed in minutes. Some can even be avoided altogether with proper maintenance. Servicing does not only lengthen the life of your copier but ensures you don't have to troubleshoot problems at all.
A run-of-the-mill paper jam can cause a surprising amount of office disruption as it creates both a standstill and a backlog. Paper jams tend to happen at the worst possible times and are usually the result of a poorly set up machine. The reasons for paper jams include using the wrong type or thickness of paper, loading the paper incorrectly or allowing dust to build up inside the copier. If a user stacks too many pages in the supply reservoir, it is almost certain to result in a jam.
To return your office copier to normal, you will need to manually remove the jammed paper and reload the proper paper size or correct the paper alignment. Be very careful not to pull out the jammed paper too quickly, or you may leave tiny, torn pieces of paper stuck in your photocopier. If your office copier is continually jamming, call a local copier specialist for repairs as they may need to come and clean your feed tires or check for built-up dust inside your machine.
Most of the time, cartridge and toner issues occur because the photocopier hasn't been correctly set up. Problems can arise if you don't use the right toner cartridge for your specific printer model as most copy machines require a particular type of toner. If you unknowingly use an incompatible cartridge, your print quality will suffer. Low, empty or malfunctioning toner issues can also wreak havoc with your photocopier. If your toner is low or empty, a simple replacement should solve any problems. If it doesn't, that means there's a malfunctioning issue due to either manufacturer error or compatibility complications.
In this instance, talk to a trusted copy specialist about what type of toner or cartridge you need - they will be able to help you determine which kind of toner is most compatible with your machine.
Streaks or lines on paper
If your copier's reproductions keep showing up with streaks, lines or other deformities - even though the paper is snowy white when you look at it in the feeder - it can make your important documents look sloppy and unprofessional. Streaks or lines on paper often occur because there are foreign substances on the scanner glass or issues with the photocopier's fuser. If you use a multifunction machine, they can also be the result of malfunctioning drum or developer units. For example, a drum blade malfunction can cause large lines appearing vertically down a printed page.
Whatever the reason behind it, streaks or lines on paper is unlikely to be a copier issue you can solve yourself. Your best bet is to get your copy machine serviced by a dedicated copier specialist who will be able to identify and repair the problem quickly.
Wrinkled or crinkled pages out of the copier machine are usually due to worn outfeed and exit rollers that cause sticking or jamming.
To fix this problem, you can either purchase replacement trays or enlist a copy specialist to repair the fuser assembly. While it may look like it's merely a case of some paper getting stuck or overloaded in your machine, wrinkled pages are often an indication that your copier has endured too much wear and tear to be functioning correctly. If wrinkled pages aren't the only issue you're experiencing with your photocopier, consider whether it may be time to rent or buy a new machine. Technology changes rapidly, and ongoing repairs and maintenance to an outdated machine can be costly. Upgrading your office equipment can sometimes be a better investment for meeting your evolving printing and copying needs.
Smudges, poor image quality or discoloured printing can be incredibly frustrating to deal with in a busy office environment. If your copies are coming out too light or too dark, it could mean that the density controls on your photocopier are imbalanced. Consult your printer's manual to find out how to reset them or call a copier specialist to get expert advice. At Forum Group, our copier technicians have a lot of experience repairing and installing office printers. We know the ins and outs of all the leading copier brands and can usually resolve common photocopier problems in less time than it takes you to make a cup of tea and come back.
Random spots across your copies
No one wants their professional work documents looking like a dot-to-dot. If your printing is churning out copiers with random spotting across them, it could be due to debris on the copy mirror. You can fix this by simply cleaning the copy glass and mirror. Most copier manuals will provide some recommendations for how to go about the cleaning process and suggest which products to use.
Random spotting across your copies is, however, a definite indicator that your office copier needs a little more TLC than it's been getting. As photocopiers are such an essential tool for completing daily office tasks, it's vital to invest in regular servicing and maintenance to lengthen their lifespan.
How do I change the toner cartridge on a photocopier?
The copier can be the workhorse of your office, so when the message "Toner Low" pops up, the toner cartridge must be replaced in order for the productivity to stay high. You should keep one set of replacement toner cartridges on hand so that you can replace a toner cartridge promptly when the toner runs out. In this article, we'll introduce you to six simple steps on how to change the toner cartridge in Sharp copier.
Sharp multifunction copiers and multifunction printers are designed to make device setup easier and faster. Precision engineered to help enhance work-flow efficiency and provide excellent image quality, Sharp printers and copiers are easier to operate, control, monitor, manage and maintain, helping take your business to the next level of productivity and performance.
Step 1 – Open the front cover.
Step 2 – Remove the empty toner cartridge.
Gently pull out the used toner cartridge horizontally. Hold the toner cartridge with both hands, as shown in the picture and slowly take it out of the machine. Set it aside for later recycling.
Note: If the toner cartridge is pulled out abruptly, the toner may spill out.
Step 3 – Take out a new toner cartridge from the box and shake it 5 to 7 times horizontally to evenly distribute the toner powder inside the cartridge.
Step 4 – Gently push in the new toner cartridge, making sure it snaps into place.
Note: A toner cartridge of a different colour cannot be installed. Be sure to install a toner cartridge of the same colour. (Y: Yellow toner; M: Magenta Toner; C: Cyan toner; BK: Black toner)
Step 5 – Close the front cover.
After replacement of the new toner cartridge, the copier automatically enters image adjustment mode. Do not open the front cover while this is occurring.
Step 6 – Print a test copy.
Print a test copy to see if the installation was successful.
Above is a generalized step-by-step guide on how to change the toner cartridge in Sharp copier. For detailed steps specific to your copier model, please refer to your copier machine's documentation. Always have a set of replacement toner cartridges on hand so that you can replace a toner cartridge promptly when the toner runs out.
If I move to a new office, can I renegotiate my printer contract?
Most contracts (provided by any business) are long and stale to read. They are designed to cover as many scenarios as possible to protect both parties, but more times than not, they are designed to protect the party issuing the contract. Here are some things to look for when you are reviewing your managed print services agreement:
A clause regarding automatic renewals will most likely be written into your agreement. This protects the service provider from losing someone's business at the drop of a hat. Traditionally, you (the customer) are required to provide a letter of intent to terminate service 30-90 days prior to the end of your agreement. If you fail to provide this letter of intent, the contract can auto-renew, and most contracts renew for an additional 12 months. Make sure you understand the cancellation procedure even if your agreement is about to expire.
Breach of Contract
It is possible to break a service contract, but like most contracts, it isn't easy. Contracts protect the customer and the provider. The only way you can get out of a service contract is with gross negligence on the part of the provider. This doesn't mean their service is slow or that the machine breaks down too often. Gross negligence would have to be more extreme, like the provider not maintaining the equipment at all and never coming out to fix your machine. Make sure you understand how often your copier should be serviced and know if your agreement is appropriate for your equipment; otherwise, you may expose yourself to extended downtime, without any recourse.
Keep in mind that a quality service provider will do what they can to keep your business and build brand trust, even if that ultimately means objectively admitting their faults and allowing you out of your service agreement.
Many copier dealers and manufacturers will place penalties in their contracts for terminating early or breaching their policies regarding the termination process. Some only administer penalties if you breach their policies, and others will hold you to finishing your entire agreement, even if you switch providers. Before getting into a long contract with a copier company, make sure you know if they have early-cancellation penalties built into their contract.
How long is the typical lifespan of a printer-photocopier?
Printers and photocopiers are generally robust pieces of office machinery, with high-end models being designed for very large volumes of printing. With frequent servicing and the use of manufacturer-approved ink, paper and other consumables, there is no reason why a printer or photocopier won't have a considerable lifespan, even up to 10 to 15 years.
Some parts, such as drums, rollers, belts and print heads may need cleaning or even replacing (which may be included in your maintenance contract), but this is cheap when compared to buying a new machine.
What is the printing capacity of a typical printer toner cartridge?
The amount of pages you can print or copy on one toner or ink cartridge varies greatly between makes and models, so there is no hard and fast guideline. As a general rule, manufacturer-approved toners and ink cartridges last longer and are more cost-effective, despite the higher initial outlay.
You will also achieve a greater yield of printing by switching to a draft or lower resolution output where possible, as this uses less ink. However, for most printers and copiers, you are looking at a few thousand pages per toner. An estimate of yield is usually given with new toners to help you purchase.
What is the fax number?
A fax number is a phone number that can be used to contact a fax machine. It looks exactly like a regular phone number.
Fax machines communicate over the phone network to send and receive information. They use audible tones to send and receive information.
Many offices have both a fax number and a phone number. Although fax operates over a phone line, it is a different phone number as fax services can interfere with services such as voicemail.
How Does a Wireless Fax Machine Work?
Fax machines may seem ancient but are still used all the time in business or other times when documents need to be sent.
There are many services that will send a fax for you if you don't do much faxing. But what about the person who does a lot of faxing needs a fax machine and wants to go wireless? With technology such as VOIP, the fax can now be sent over the internet with no landline or be set up with a wireless dongle for an existing landline.
How do I send a fax?
Sending a Fax with an Online Fax Service
With fax becoming less of a common method of communicating, many people are moving to an online fax service for their faxing.
An online fax service offers some the same features that a fax machine provides, with the added benefit of being able to fax online, wherever you have an internet connection. If you already have an online fax service, then use the following quick guide to sending fax:
- Open the program from the online fax service provider that you use.
- Select the file that you want to fax
- Enter the fax number that you want to send to
- Press "Send."
- Wait for the document to finish transmitting.
- Send another fax, or close the program.
Sending a Fax with a Fax Machine
To send a fax with a fax machine your fax machine will need to be properly configured.
We have put together a full guide on how to use a fax machine to help ensure that your fax machine is properly configured, as well as certain settings that you may need to consider. Once your fax is on and configured, then you will be ready to send your fax.
To send a fax with your fax machine:
- Place the document you want to send in the document feeder. There is usually a small icon that will show which was is "face-up" for sending your document.
- Enter the fax number you want to send to, including and extensions to dial externally, and any international dialling codes.
- Press Send or Go (depending on your fax machine model)
- Wait for the fax to finish scanning and sending your document.
- Take your confirmation page (if you have the feature enabled)
- Take your original document with you.
Sending a Fax with a Computer
Most computers these days have the ability to double as a fax machine.
While we primarily the use of an online fax service when using a computer as a fax, some people still use their computer as a direct replacement for a fax machine that typically sits on a desk. We have put together a full guide to enabling and configuring fax services on your computer, including Windows XP, Vista, and 7, as well as Mac OSX and Linux operating systems.
If you already have a fax service installed on your computer, then usually the process of sending a fax with a computer goes as follows:
- Open the program you want to use to fax
- Select the document that you want to have faxed
- Prepare a cover page to put on top of that document.
- Select the option to "fax""
- Enter the fax number you want to send to
- Select the option to "send."
- Wait for the document to finish sending.
- Send another fax, or close the program.
How to connect a fax machine?
Connecting your fax machine to your network lets you fax important documents and invoices directly from your PC without having first to print out the documents. Wireless networks provide greater flexibility for where you can install your fax and what PCs can access it. You will, however, need to keep your fax close to your router, so it has a strong wireless connection and properly receives the data you want to fax.
Establishing A Connection
- Choose the "Wireless" network connection option on your installation wizard. This will appear after your drivers are installed or after you've reset your PC.
- Select your wireless network from the list provided and click the "Next" or "Search" button. This tells your PC to look for the fax machine on your network.
- Select your device from the list and click "Next." If your installation wizard asks you to change firewall settings, click the option to change the port settings to enable your device and select your device from the list. You will not need to adjust port numbers or other information from this installer.
- Click "Install" if your wizard prompts you to install a driver. This applies the drivers you've already downloaded to the fax on your network.
- Select the option to set this fax machine as your default fax. If it is a multipurpose machine, you can also set it as your default printer.
- Click "Finish" to end the installation. You may be prompted to reset your computer again. After resetting, log in to your computer as an administrator to complete the installation process.
- Send a test fax to see if your machine is properly working. Fax machine manufacturers operate test lines specifically for this purpose, and the number can be found in your manual.
How does a wireless printer work?
A wireless printer uses a wireless network connection to print from different devices. This allows users to send documents to the printer from computers, smartphones, and tablets without having to connect them via cable or transfer files between devices beforehand.
Wireless printers are also known as WiFi printers as they often use wireless networks to receive communications. Other technologies used are Bluetooth, Personal Area Network (PAN), Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Cloud. This makes printing quicker and easier, particularly for those with mobile devices. Users can send documents instantly. For example, they could take a photograph on a smartphone and print without having to connect devices.
Because the internal procedures of the inkjet printer are more simple than the ones of laser printers, they intend to be much cheaper. It is a fact that inkjet cannot print as quickly as laser printers. However, they can give the much better print quality of the photos. So this technology will be the right choice for those who are looking to print their images from DSLR or phone at home.
On the other hand, lots of inkjet printer owners were disappointed by their printer's reliability. Extra small moving parts partially cause this can break. The small nozzles that were mentioned before can clog easily. Another confusing thing about the inkjet printers is the business model of their manufacturers. The printers themselves are frequently sold for the price that is lower than their cost. That is why the ink usually refills cost a lot. Some manufacture program microchips inside of the cartridges to request ink refill even when the cartridge is not empty.
But things are getting changed slowly. You can find alternative systems that can be integrated into your printer instead of the cartridges.