Question about Dell 3100cn Laser Printer

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Replace Toner message with new cartridge.

I had used some 3rd party toner from which was supposed to be compatible with the 3100cn. It worked for 1000 pages and then said I needed to replace it (It was supposed to last for approximately 4000). When I took out the toner cartridge there was toner all over it. I cleaned it up as best I could and put a new official Dell Black toner cartridge in. Now whenever I power up it goes through its calibration procedure and then tells me to replace the black toner immediately. When I take out the Dell toner cartridge there is toner all over it as well. When I look at the "transfer roller?" it doesn't look like it is attracting the toner like it should. All the other color's rollers are densely coated while the black one has a little toner on it but the metal is clearly visible. I don't know if this is related but we have had "ghosting" problems with this printer since we got it. They replaced just about everything under warranty and it never went away completely. We have been printing with "covers 2" setting and "Paper 2" on the main paper tray which seemed to minimize the problem. The problem did however reappear just before the black toner failed.

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Re: Replace Toner message with new cartridge.

Ok, I got mine working again. Turns out there was about 2 cups of that crappy 3rd party toner all gummed up inside the mixing chamber just behind the metal roller. It was so jammed full of bad toner that the new dell toner couldn't even make it through to the roller. If you are feeling ambitious (and your printer is broken anyway) here is how I got mine working.

  1. Turn off printer.
  2. Pull the toner and drum out of the printer and rotate the carousel by hand until the black toner holder is at the top. 
  3. Look on the right side of the carousel where the toner cartridge locks in. There is a white clip. Get a good flashlight and carefully examine how the clip works before you start prying on it. Gently pull back the small locking tab and rotate the clip towards you and remove it.  
  4. Look on the other side, opposite where the white clip was. There is a small metal bracket held with a screw. Remove the screw and the bracket.
  5. Now you can carefully lift the *entire black toner housing, roller and gearbox* of off the carousel. You may have to rotate the carousel slightly to maneuver it out.
  6. Set the housing on a clean surface and remove the two screws that hold the scraper blade over the roller.
  7. Dump out ALL the bad toner inside and clean off the roller with alcohol.
  8. Dispose of bad toner and reassemble printer in the reverse order.
When reinstalling the blade you will need to set the gap between the blade and the roller so that a smooth, even layer of toner is spread across the roller as it turns. Too big a gap and your prints will be dark and smudgy. Too small and your prints will be light. I checked my other colors with a feeler gauge, they were all set to 0.018" from the factory. You can eyeball it if you have to but using a feeler gauge works a lot better.

Final step is to install a new Dell toner cartage and allow the printer to calibrate. With any luck your will be fully functioning again.

Posted on Apr 25, 2008

Re: Replace Toner message with new cartridge.

Since we were out from under warranty on the Dell it wasn't worth fixing. A new comparable Dell Laser is much more expensive than what we originally paid for the 3100 so we decided to replace it with an HP k4500dtn business inkjet. HP was offering a $40 rebate if you sent in your old printers. So we got rid of the Dell with free shipping to HP and got a $40 check! The new HP is great as it is network ready and includes duplexing. I believe the ink costs are going to be less than our toner costs for the Dell. The ink jet produces great quality printouts comparable to the Dell. I have learned that printers are disposable and now look primarily at ink/toner costs as a major consideration when purchasing.

Posted on Oct 31, 2007

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