Printing in the Wrong Colours

Recently I had an enquiry from a customer asking if they could get a quote on their toner cartridges for an OKI MC562w.

For the purposes of this blog and my own sanity from this point forward the customer shall be referred to as ‘Mr Bob’.

which I helped with by quoting from my site here. (prepare for a lengthy read from this point on)

During the conversation of pricing (for which it turned out we are cheaper than Mr Bob’s current supplier) Mr Bob asked if I also supplied contract printers. My first thought and indeed question was why you are looking at contract printers when you have such a good printer already. Mr Bob went on to say that the printer was printing out the wrong colours and the logo on his company’s letterheads were coming out in the wrong colour.

See here: for the continuation of the Contract printer conversation.


Fault diagnosis

Clearly something wasn’t right here and although Mr Bob wasn’t using me for his consumables at this time, I went into full on help mode. Firstly, are your cartridges full? To which he replied “no” but the lowest, being the yellow, had 15% left according to the supply status on the LCD screen.

Hmmm, next question, are they the original cartridges? The reply was “no” again.

The reason for asking this is that many people order cartridges for a specific printer and expect them to only work in that printer. The reality is that compatible manufacturers make cartridge casings that fit into as many different models as possible using the same pattern/mould. This saves them money and time bringing new products to market quickly and helps the environment a little too, which we all know is of great importance these days.

The reason for explaining this to you, the reader, is that now you know compatibles are universal between printers, but they are also universal between each colour. So, you can put a black into a yellow slot for example or cyan into a magenta slot. Now in most printers this will flag an error saying the cartridge is the wrong colour or give a generic error, which when put into the correct slot will work as normal. However, in the case of some Oki printers the chip manufacturers also make Universal Chips to fit said cartridges. So now things get interesting as you can put a black into the yellow slot and vice versa and the printer will carry on as nothing is wrong but printing in the wrong colour. To Clarify, if this happens it will print in disgusting colours mixed by whatever combination was put together and in doing so will render the drum and toner useless and replacements needing to be ordered.

In this instance Mr Bob was certain they were in the correct slot.

Hmmm, what is the life left on your Drums I asked? Mr Bob confirmed the drums all had above 50% life left on the status monitor, in the same menu you can see the life of the drums, transfer belt, fuser and toners. All of which (except the toners) had a good amount of life left.

At this point I was a little puzzled as with nothing obvious going on it should be at least trying to put the correct colours on the page.

Now to clarify, I do not profess to being the fountain of knowledge in all the printers in all the land. However, I have taken apart my fair share from most of the main brands (HP, Canon, Lexmark, Samsung, Oki etc) and reassembled them to find faults and fix them. Armed with this knowledge I should be able to help most customers at least figure out what is going on and offer some helpful advice.

To put it another way Mr Bob had me stumped. (it is not the first time and won’t be the last)

It would not be mechanical failure as the myriad of sensors that lie within laser printer these days would have picked up something not to mention there would most likely be some sort of unusual noise coming from his printer.

It is not software related (the computer, tablet, phone etc) as its printing with the same missing colours when a document is scanned in so clearly a printer fault.

Hmmmm, I need to think on this I thought as by this point Mr Bob had taken out his consumables as we went through trying to figure out what was going wrong. Suddenly He said “oh, its printing the correct colours now”. At this point I was, for want of a better word, baffled. I asked what did you do?

Mr Bob replied “I shook the cartridge”.

You may be thinking well that is an obvious thing to try, and you would be correct IF the cartridges had only just been inserted. Most compatibles and originals have instructions upon opening the packaging to gently shake the cartridge from side to side (this only applies to toners, do not shake your inks unless you want your curtains and carpets replaced). Toners can last in most cases years sitting on a shelf in a cool place. It is not recommended to do so but it’s entirely possible, so giving them a gentle shake loosens up the particles and gets the toner flowing like water within the cartridge.

If a toner is stored in a warm place, then shaking the cartridge won’t make a bit of difference and either the cartridge will have components break after its inserted into a printer OR you printer will shear a gear or 2 or possibly worse and turn from the office work horse into a paper weight within seconds.

Toner hardens when stored in the warmth, it takes time for this to happen, but I have seen it and will see it time and time again as customers search ever harder for the bargain of the century. This is what I think happened to Mr Bobs cartridges, the toner was beginning to harden and at either end of the casing it was stuck. Shaking it simply freed it up.

I don’t believe its my place to say to Mr Bob or anyone else that the supplier they are using ‘may’ of sold them old stock or stock so far at the back of the self it was in danger of falling into Narnia. Most suppliers including myself sell cartridges quick enough not to worry about this and with good stock management / rotation it should never be an issue in the first place.

Mr Bob was very grateful for the help and knowledge I had given him and was even more impressed when he realised I was cheaper than his current supplier too.

Thankyou for reading this far.

I am going to end by saying this.

If you ever talk to an IT person about computer problems, the first thing they ask is “have you turned it off and on?”… you see where I am going with this?

This isn’t the end for Mr Bob’s conversation with us. See here for the talk about his contract.