What’s the deal with lazer printer’s toner usage?

mpw

Guest
Original poster
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
What’s the deal with lazer printer’s toner usage?

My boss thought it’d be a good idea to get a colour LazerJet from HP, it’s got 4 toner cartridges (black, yellow, cyan and magenta(that’s probably obvious)) and he, and I, was under the impression that the idea was black was black and yellow was yellow and orange would be a mix of a couple or the three colours.

So the first job for the new printer is thousands of copies of some leaflet my boss (or perhaps a blind monkey) put together in MS Word with 95% black text and one heading in MS Word’s standard red.

So how come all four cartridges show empty at the same time?

The guy in the shop who sold him the printer, and hopes to sell £160 of cartridges every month, says this is because all four cartridges are used at the same rate. Depending on the colours the inks from the four cartridges are either applied to the paper or not… he wasn’t sure where the unused powder went ??!!

He reckons this is standard lazer printer tech’, is it? If so why do they sell the cartridges in the 4 separate colours?
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,515
8
Behind the lens
never heard of a LaZer printer...:rolleyes:

i dont know what to say to your conundrum.

if you print in greyscale on a color laser printer, you arent using the CMY drums.

However, theoretically, you COULD be using all 4 of CMYK to create black, depending on your file...i doubt Word has this ability anyway.


Toner drums are expensive, so you have to understand where a salesman comes from when they want to sell you more.

We use one at work all day, and the drums come and go on their own, never together. That would be a coincidence like no other.

Perhaps the starter drums were basically empty to get you to immediately buy full ones.
 
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mpw

Guest
Original poster
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
never heard of a LaZer printer...:rolleyes:...
Oh they're all the rage here..... god I wish that were the stupidest thing I'd done/typed today.

...if you print in greyscale on a color laser printer, you arent using the CMY drums...
Yup, that's what I thought.

...Toner drums are expensive, so you have to understand where a salesman comes from when they want to sell you more...
Grrrr, that's what I thought too.

...Perhaps the starter drums were basically empty to get you to immediately buy full ones.
I thought that too, but seriously my boss has only used this new printer to do a few plain black letters, and a few thousand leaflets in black with a single red heading.

The black toner ran out first, which I'd expect, but then all three colours went together, got replaced and are now showing the same level of nearly empty again???
 
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killerrobot

macrumors 68020
Jun 7, 2007
2,220
2
127.0.0.1
The black toner ran out first, which I'd expect, but then all three colours went together, got replaced and are now showing the same level of nearly empty again???
Color laser printers eat through ink like no others, and around 2000 prints per cartridge seems pretty reasonable. However, the fact that all the cartridges are emptying at the same time is alarming/odd.

Unless you specifically tell the printer to print in greyscale, it will always use a number of different inks to make the black, never just the black cartridge. So with you not being able to tell it to do so because of the red ink, it probably used all sorts of combinations for the black - doesn't matter if it was even in word or not.

I'd try buying the cartridges from somewhere else and see if you get full ones, and if you do, I'd go kick that one salesman's head in. If it acts the same, then you've just got an ink guzzling printer.
 
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mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,777
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Oh they're all the rage here..... god I wish that were the stupidest thing I'd done/typed today.
Haha, I was going to make fun of it, but then I realised who was posting the post. And then I briefly felt bad about it before returning to my original intention of making fun of it. :D

Can't think of a language where "stimulated" would be spelled with a "z." :D

Running through all FOUR cartridges at exactly the same time, though, is very strange. Even if these color documents were being printed in such a way that black was being made with a combination of the three pigments (this used to be a problem, although I thought modern drivers were smart about this), there's still no sensible reason for the black cartridge to go empty at the same time as the other three.

Do you have any independent way of verifying that they are really all running empty?
 
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mpw

Guest
Original poster
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
...Can't think of a language where "stimulated" would be spelled with a "z." :D...
Ask around and I think you'll find I can be oddly ztimulating ;)

...Running through all FOUR cartridges at exactly the same time, though, is very strange...
...Do you have any independent way of verifying that they are really all running empty?
To be fair the black is being used quicker, but I'd expect that. It's just the fact I can get my head round red being made of equal parts magenta/yellow/cyan??

The HP cartridges are apparently too smart to be fooled by taking them out shaking them and re-loading, so I just have to take their word that they're empty... but I might kick the salesman when I see him, just in case like.
 
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smurfjammer

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2004
579
2
Auckland, New Zealand
Black isn't black

The black in Word isn't really black.
It's an RBG black and when sent to a CMYK laser printer will use all the colours to print the black.
If you run you finger over the black type is should feel raised...
 
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RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,030
325
.. London ..
We have exactly the same problem here. We also have a colour laser printer from HP, and even though our printing is 98% B&W, it goes through colour like a meths addict in a whiskey factory.

At the time, we needed a colour laser, and this model was featured prominently on Apple's shop front page, so we figured it was likely to work pretty well with OSX, and got it. (we paid extra for the networked model too.)

I can't remember the exact model number but we got it 2 years ago, and it also has 4 cartridges that revolve, like the OP's printer.

I've tried everything to make it stick to printing in B&W, I've set up special B&W profiles and set them to default in everyone's computers, but weirdly (and expensively), it still eats colour toner for breakfast.
 
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notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
On my Lexmark color las/zer printer I set the printer menus to "black and white lock" mode which forces it to only use the black toners. Seems to work, as the color toners only occasionally dip down as I print the odd color graphic. When they go, they definitely go in different orders. Generally cyan goes first, and magenta seems to last the longest, for the type of printing I do. They're generally within a few weeks of each other, though.

When I needed spot color on documents I've even gone so far as to print the black and white portions in one pass, then put the paper back in and print only the spot colors. This works only if you're not TOO picky about exact alignment, as it's likely to be just slightly off, like a letterhead or logo in the corner.
 
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L

Lau

Guest
Not that this is really in any way helpful to your problem, but if you wanted a few brownie points at work it might be worth looking into.

If you're printing a load of leaflets like that it's probably worth giving a decent local digital (or even proper litho if it's 1000s and they're one or two colour) printer a ring and seeing what they would charge for doing them. It's surprisingly cheap, and means you'd get it on nice paper, it would look more pro, and wouldn't run down your cripplingly expensive printer cartridges doing it.

As I say, not very helpful for the problem, but if it means you can come back to your boss and say "Hey, I can save you money and hassle with this!" he might say "Nice one, have a nice long lunch in the pub". ;)
 
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CanadaRAM

macrumors G5
And the other part of the equation is -- when you buy a new laser printer, with most brands you don't get full new cartridges - you get short-filled 'starter' cartridges that are good for 500 pages or so. All in aid of getting that purchase price down so that the sucker.... customers buy into the printers and soon need to buy teh $600 replacement kits.
 
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Moof1904

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2004
1,041
43
Set your blacks to only use 100% K and 0% CMY in your DTP program if you want your printer to only print using black ink.
This is the core of the OP's concern, as I see it. And yes, one must be careful to ensure that whatever app one is using defines black as 100%K and not some funky combination of three or four toner cartridges.

I routinely get very good life from my HP 3800 color laser cartridges. I wish they were cheaper, but hey...
 
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notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
And the other part of the equation is -- when you buy a new laser printer, with most brands you don't get full new cartridges - you get short-filled 'starter' cartridges that are good for 500 pages or so. All in aid of getting that purchase price down so that the sucker.... customers buy into the printers and soon need to buy teh $600 replacement kits.
Yeah, it really sucks when my color laser printer is on sale at Staples for $299, and a full set of replacement cartridges is over $600. You're better to chuck everything out and buy a whole new printer every few months. But that's terrible for the environment.
 
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JeffTL

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
733
0
It could be printing in rich black, which is augmented with CMY to look better on paper. Check for some option to render the blacks as real black.
 
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RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,030
325
.. London ..
Our HP colour laser has rather anaemic printer options, and most of our printing is from Word (e.g. 12 x 100 page scripts for a rehearsal, or 3x 100 page updated draft scripts every couple of days as a script is workshopped).

I've looked through the osx printing options, and I don't see any option for telling Word to use K not CYM for black.

There's something called ColourSync and I had set that to

Colour Conversion: Standard
Quartz filter: Black and White.

There's also another tab called Colour Options, and in advanced options, I had set that to:

Text: Text Neutral Greys: Black Only (not 4-colour)
Advanced: RGB Colour: sRGB (not Device)

What am I getting wrong? (Hope this helps the OP too)
 
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mpw

Guest
Original poster
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
...I've looked through the osx printing options, and I don't see any option for telling Word to use K not CYM for black....
...Text: Text Neutral Greys: Black Only (not 4-colour)...
...What am I getting wrong? (Hope this helps the OP too)
I'm enjoying XP at work at the moment, but don't know of the option in Word either. I found the same 'Black Only/4colours' option in the printer options too.

Thanks for the help guys, I don't care enough about the boss or the job to waste anymore of my time trying to figure out a cheaper option, I was just intrigued.
 
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snickelfritz

macrumors 65816
Oct 24, 2003
1,109
0
Tucson AZ
Print color separations from your document to see the proportion of CMYK.
It's often cheaper to order large print runs online. The quality is also better than can be done on desktop laser printers.
I recently ordered 2500 9x12 trifold brochures 4/4 on 100# gloss book; cost me $300.00, the quality is first rate, and I received the prints within a week.
 
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decksnap

macrumors 68040
Apr 11, 2003
3,070
70
Our design shop upgraded our old Xerox Phaser 790 to a Phaser 7760 GX this year. All I can say is holy crap. These drums haven't been replaced once in six months heavy usage. If you are into design and graphics quality this is the printer.
 
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