Toner – Not So Bad Once You Get to Know It

8 Jan

My prints are getting light. I need to add toner, right? Saying that is much like saying that your car goes slower as it gets lower on gas. Why would your printer get light prints when it gets low on toner? This is a common misconception with toner and how it is distributed during normal printing operations. Your modern day large format printer may have a toner bottle that is usually left to change by some seemingly unlucky individual in your workplace, but this is only your printer’s toner “reserve.” The production toner is set away from sight in, what is referred to as, your developer unit. There is usually a sensor or a series of sensors that determines when your developer unit is getting low. When the sensors give off a signal that the toner level is low, the toner bottle has been put in, what would be referred to as, the “Toner Add Mode.” The toner from that bottle then goes to the storage area of the developer unit and will do so until the sensor is satisfied.

So what do you do when you spill toner? No need to run in fear or tape off that room and call a hazmat team. Simply grab asHazmat much of it as you can with a vacuum and the rest will easily clean up with a damp cloth. Just make sure the cloth is not damp with anything hotter than lukewarm water. Toner is nothing more than a finely filtered plastic polymer that bonds to things when it is heated to more than 140°C/284°F. Next time your friendly service technician is in your office, you can nicely ask them for a “toner dust cloth” and they would be willing to accommodate you. Toner dust cloths are what BPI’s Service Team uses to collect lightly spilled toner; they work great for cleaning toner off of clothes and carpet. So next time you spill a bit of toner on your nice khakis, have no fear–it will come right out in the wash on a cold water cycle.

Why is my older model printer using more toner than usual? If you have a printer that is more than10-15 years old, it may have, what is referred to in the service repair world as, a “dual component” system. What does this mean for you, other than it may be time to upgrade to something more current and less expensive to run? Well, older developer units use a metallic powder that was always inside the unit itself. This powder holds a static charge that the toners bonds to until a higher charge from the printer’s drum/photoreceptor says, “Hey, I’ll take some toner.” That is how the image goes from the developer unit to the drum, eventually to the paper, then out towards the fuser unit. The fuser unit melts the plastic component (toner) into the crisp image you see when the print exits the the large format printer. The developer powder eventually loses its ability to hold a static charge and needs to be replaced.

So, next time one of your coworkers takes issue with having to change the copier’s toner, tell them to not fear because you are now the go-to expert on how toner works and why it’s not so bad.


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