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What to Do When Your Printer Smudges Your Printouts

Printed output is probably a component of every area of your organisation, regardless of how much you rely on email and paperless digital documents. The sort of printer you use can affect how you resolve smudges and streaks on pages that come out of your business printer that aren’t flawless. Look for causes that relate to how you utilise your gear and the settings in which the problems arise to concentrate and streamline your diagnostic detective work.

Issues With The Media
Your pages may emerge and remain smudge-free depending greatly on the paper you use for your output. On papers with highly rough surfaces or coatings that don’t comply with the requirements of the hardware makers, including some papers meant for use on printing presses, laser printers have difficulty producing an image. When printing on picture paper and seeking for stock suited specifically for the dye- or pigment-based inks these machines use, inkjets perform best when the sheets you use are matched to the output you make on them.

A clean printer produces better output than an ill-maintained one. Even the smoothest, most laser- or inkjet-friendly paper sheds lint, and even the cleanest office attracts its share of dust and other particulates. When these materials build up inside a printer, they can interfere with the device’s ability to lay down toner or ink. Printheads pick up an undercoating that can build up enough to make contact with inkjet paper before it dries. Dust in laser printing paths can degrade image quality by getting in the way of a proper toner bond.

Laser toner consists of a heat-set mixture of coloring agents and powdered plastic. An aging laser printer can show the symptoms of a failing fuser, the heater that melts toner onto paper to form a sturdy bond. If the fuser loses its ability to reach the correct temperature or the rollers through which it processes each output sheet become contaminated, the resulting printouts can smudge at a touch because the toner never melts correctly. Verify that the repair cost makes sense relative to the cost of the printer — or a replacement device — before you pay a technician to confirm the diagnosis and replace the part.

Duplexed output contains printing on both sides of the sheet. Printers fall into one of five categories relative to duplexing capabilities. Some include built-in automatic duplexing hardware. Others make a duplexer available as an optional part. A third class supports manual duplexing through its driver software, which offers onscreen instructions that explain how to reprint a back-of-the-sheet image on pages you’ve already processed. A fourth group can print two-sided output but leaves the entire process up to you. Finally, some printer models include an explicit ban on using them for duplexing purposes because of the risk of toner unfusing or unset ink smearing inside the machine when a page reenters the print path. If two-sided output forms an important part of your workflow, choose a printer that accommodates those needs.

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