Question about Dell 5100cn Laser Printer

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Deteriorating image quality

When my $20 inkjet can print the same picture better than my $1,000 laser printer, I know that I have a problem.

The setup:
My 5100cn is about 2 years old, and is still on its first magenta and yellow toners (with 10% left). On my black and blue toners I'm on my 3rd and 2nd toner. The blue toner is not Dell manufactured, but the printer's non-dell toner setting is not set.

I've printed under 11,000 pages, but at times I've printed a lot of color heavy pages. The statuses of the imaging drum, transfer roller, and fuser are all reported as ok.

I started noticing when I printed photographs on my printer that they were coming out grainy (or fuzzy). This is particularly noticable in areas that are largely one color (for example, a picture with the ocean as a background.

Upon close inspection, I see lines of darker and lighter shading throughout the picture. These lines (both horizontal and vertical) are easily seen when I run the test prints (such as cyan 20%, magenta 20%, black 20%, or the gradation test). I do not see a problem with on the yellow print. For the other colors (and black), I see horizontal and vertical lines of darker and lighter color interspersed with the correct color level.

Tonight I compare a new color printout of an older document with a printout from 18 months ago. The older document was clearly much better in quality.

Does anyone know what the source of this problem might be?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by on

  • Robert_Lef Oct 13, 2008

    I was concerned about the speed at which the drum wore out, so I started trying to dig a little deeper today. When I went into diagnostic mode and then to print|parameters, I received the following information: the life of the toners was all less than 2000. I assume that this is because I probably removed the toner cartridges some time in during the printer's 10,000 page life. The life of the BTR1, Fuser, Printer, and PHD1 are all approximately 14,900 (give or take 10). However, the life of the phd2=88,450, the phd3=12,318, the phd4=39, the phd5=0, the deve unit 1=75,635, the deve unit 2=75,635, the deve unit 3=75,635, and the deve unit 4=84,049. Am I correct in interpretting this to mean that several components of my printer have seen use well beyond the 10,706 that is shown on the web status interface? Can you think of any explanation for this?

  • Robert_Lef Oct 25, 2008

    Changing the drum made a big difference. I now don't have those horrible lines. I still wouldn't say that the 'solid' colors are solid, but this is worlds better. Thanks.

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Good Evening Robert,

The setting for non dell toner only controls the fuser temperature, and will not cause you any print quality issues. Toner is actually made up of ink and plastic. The fuser melts the plastic to "fuse" the image to the paper. Dell toner is set to "fuse" at a specific temperature. when you use non Dell toners, the temperature required to fuse may be different, and when set to non dell toner setting, the fuser temperature is raised to the maximum to ensure the other toner fuses properly. The down side to this is that you will wear out the fuser sooner then it should.

As far as the print quality issue you are having, it is most likey caused by the imaging drum.

Regardless of the estimated life for the imaging drum as stated by the printer, this is just an estimate. Many things can and will cause the imaging drum need replacing. ( Just yesterday I replaced a black toner in a 3115 that was less then a month old... genuine Dell... with more then 75% expected usage left because it was defective).

On this printer, each of the 3 colors and the black are all independent of each other with the exception of the imaging drum. Even within the imaging drum, cyan and black are independent of magenta and yellow on the first stage of transfer. When you have deteriorated print quality that effects more then one color, the first step is to replace the imaging drum.

The Primary transfer, secondary transfer, and tertiary transfer of the image are ALL contained within the imaging drum.

The chances of having 3 or 4 bad Developers is very very slim. If your print quality issue was related to only ONE color, then I would say you had a bad developer unit ( the 4 items located behind the imaging drum when removed). These are far more difficult and expensive to change.

The BTR ( bios transfer roller ) is the only other item that "could" effect your print quality, however, based on the symptoms you discribed, I doubt it. Besides, if i am not mistaken, the imaging drum kit comes with a new btr anyway.

Although I am sure you may be disappointed with the fact the drum unit is failing while showing it still has life remaining, the solution to replace it should restore your unit to full operation. The unit is light sensative, and effected by physical age as well as the number of prints it has supplied.

Please evaluate the solution i have provided and, rate the solution appropriately to show your support.

Thanks,
Cory

Posted on Oct 11, 2008

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