PrinterWorks West Blog

Toner Cartridges - Where Do Yours End Up?

Every year Canadians throw out 35 million printer cartridges with a 12 percent annual increase. That is more than 1 cartridge per second! Many don’t realize it, but cartridges take 450 years to decompose. Each brand new toner cartridge requires the burning of over 2 quarts of petroleum in the manufacturing process.

In North America alone, more than 200 million liters of petroleum are used to sustain the production of new toner cartridges with the majority of these cartridges ending up in the worlds landfills once empty.

Each year, suppliers such as HP, Lexmark and Xerox produce and distribute millions of supplies for printers, copiers and plotters.   These providers of printing solutions and the ongoing stream of consumables & supplies have a unique environmental responsibility.

By recycling printer cartridges, we conserve natural resources and energy by reducing the need for virgin materials. Up to 97 percent of the materials that make up a printer cartridge can be recycled or reused if taken care of. Recycling one color copier cartridge saves 3.5 pounds of solid waste.

Most have several convenient return options and service to recover and reuse or recycle spent toner cartridges. The result is less solid waste and fewer resources consumed. Collection programs are usually free to the consumer and are designed to be easy to use. Compatible or replacement toner cartridges are not always the best environmental answer as ninety-four percent of remanufactured cartridges sold will ultimately be thrown away.

All HP toner and ink cartridges recycled through HP Planet Partners go through a multi-phase recycling process where they are reduced to raw materials that can then be used to make new metal and plastic products such as HP cartridges, auto parts, roof tiles, microchip processing trays and parts of some HP products, or they are recovered for energy. If you laid all the HP LaserJet print cartridges that have been returned and recycled through HP Planet Partners end-to-end along the equator, they would circle the earth 1.21 times.

Lexmark strives to be an environmentally responsible provider of products and services. From the way they design with the environment in mind, to how they engineer their packaging to reduce materials, all the way to the collection programs Lexmark provides an environmentally progressive approach to recycling.

Xerox, through their Green World Alliance collection/reuse/recycling program for spent imaging supplies, customers return more than 2.5 million cartridges and toner containers annually. Over the last 20 years, our supplies recycling programs have kept more than 145 million pounds of waste out of landfills.

Remanufactured doesn't necessarily mean environmentally friendly.  Remanufactured or refilled products are very likely to still end up in the landfill.  The best way to avoid this is to ask questions and see if you supplier can provide details about their environmental programs and practices.

Learn To Save Money On Ink Cartridges

Going digital with files means never having to worry about clutter, being able to archive documents and images close to infinity and being able to search for files with ease through indexing. But for those who prefer the feel of paper in their hands there are printers that can transform digital files into hard copies. This comes at a price, however, which is an expensive one owing to the exorbitantly high cost of ink. Thankfully, there are a few tricks one can apply to get the most out of printer cartridges.

Cram

Cram as much information in a page as is possible without going over the top. The result should be legible and uncluttered yet mustn’t have overly wide margins or too much spacing between the lines.

Font size

Use font size that is small but readable. Point size 11 to 12 is fine for the text’s body while headings can be increased to 14-16 and subheadings can be made bold.

Grayscale

If there are no images in the document then print it in grayscale. Don’t worry, the text won’t come out grey but will just be a little lighter than black.

Refill

Refill ink cartridges instead of purchasing new ones. It is cheaper, works just as well and refilled cartridges can hold 20 percent more ink!

Types Of Toners For Computer Printers

Toners are pigments in powder form used in laser printers to print out images or text on paper. The toners in the earlier days were made of carbon powder but over time, were melt-mixed with polymers to produce the vibrant and clear results we’re familiar with today.

Modern laser printers use toner cartridges where the powder may be manufactured using either of two ways – mechanically or chemically, of which the latter is based on newer technology.

Mechanically produced toners

Mechanically produced toners are also known as ground toners. The powder is heated and melted onto the paper using mechanical forces when printing. Since toner particles aren’t regular in size and shape, print quality can be affected. The toner layer on the paper is also thicker. However, conventional toners have the capacity to produce vibrant colors and have a larger color space.

Chemically produced toners

Chemically produced toners have a smaller particle size that may be only two to three microns thick. This results in a finer and higher print quality. The particles are also uniformly milled so there is higher efficiency during printing.

Chemically produced toners work well when printing fine and intricate images. Gradations and subtleties also show up clearer compared to mechanically produced toners.

3 Reasons Why Shopping For Ink Cartridges Online Is Recommendable

If you want to purchase ink cartridges, you will have to decide where to get them. You can either shop at a retail store or get ink cartridges from an online store. There are some reasons why shopping for ink cartridges online is the way to go. Here are some of them:

•    Price – The operational costs of running a retail store can definitely affect the prices of ink cartridges which are being sold in it. Retailers have to consider operational cost such as electricity, use of facility, and wage of their employees. That is why they have no choice but to make the price of ink cartridges a little bit high.

•    Availability – One of the downsides of shopping in a retail store is that there is a possibility that particular ink cartridges are not available. This can be very inconvenient especially if you need the ink cartridges badly. However, availability of various ink cartridge models and types is not a common problem in online ink cartridge sellers.

•    Hassle-free – Another good thing about shopping for ink cartridges in the online world is that you do not have to leave your home. Just simply order the specific ink cartridges that you need and these products will be sent to your doorstep in a heartbeat!

Top 4 Ink-Saving Tips For Every Computer User

One of the downsides of having a computer printer is that you have to purchase ink cartridges regularly. If you hate replacing your ink cartridges frequently, you might be interested to know these tips on how to save ink:

•    Turn off printers the right way – Do not simply press the power button when you are not using it anymore. If you do that, the print heads might not be placed in their correct positions. If the print heads will not be placed in the correct positions, the ink will definitely dry up faster than expected.

•    Make use of your print cartridges regularly – In order to prevent the ink from drying up, do not let your printer sit all week without printing any document. Try to print a few documents every once in a while so that your print cartridges will be kept alive.

•    Proofread before printing – Try to proofread your document before printing it. This is so that you can detect errors right away. You would not want to waste ink and paper by reprinting a document after you have spotted errors in your first output.

•    Choose what you print - Try to organize your document before printing it. Delete the text and pictures that you do not really need to see.

PCL VS. Postscript

I'm often asked for my opinion on PDLs (Page Description Languages).  It's typically a very open ended question; “should you use Postscript or PCL”. 

This then seems to spark all sorts of controversy which it shouldn’t.  In the end, why do you really care what PDL you use?  As long as when you press print your document comes out of the printer properly formatted who really cares how it go there or in what language? 

That being said, some PDLs are a little easier to work with post driver or when debugging.  Also, if you can limit the number of PDLs in your environment, it should make overall maintenance simpler.

 START WITH ONE...

So start with your preferred PDL and add others as you encounter applications or situations where another is required or works better, and don’t fear an environment that is not built around one language, in my experience this is almost impossible.  To add to all of this, you probably have other applications where you have no control over the driver and language so you probably have a mixed environment already.

In most environments we would recommend using drivers in the following order (my order) of preference.

Postscript (any version)

It can be argued that Postscript output more accurately represents colours, is more efficient with graphics, and is more consistent from device to device. 

Captured output is human readable which makes it easier to interpret and debug.  As an example, if a job is printing from the wrong tray, you can capture the output and see what the application/driver has inserted for media source and type.  This is useful for problem determination and isolation.

It’s also much easier to view, convert and otherwise post-process then most languages.  Tools such as Adobe Acrobat, Ghostscript, GSView and many others can view and convert these files to PDF or other graphical formats.  This might not be a requirement in your environment, but with languages like PCL, there are only a few commercial products that would allow for similar post conversion.

Postscript is a double-edged sword with native PS-type applications such as Acrobat Reader.  These applications will often recognize that the driver is Postscript and allow for the application to generate the Postscript output and not the driver.  The upside is that application release time from clicking print is improved; however, this may come at the cost of compatibility with the printer.  One can always disable Postscript pass-through within the printer driver in situations where this is a problem.  This will force the application to send the data as GDI to the printer driver, which will then convert to manufacturer specific Postscript and send the data onto the printer.

PCL 5

When Postscript won’t do our fallback is PCL 5.

PCL 5 is not the best choice for graphic intense output; however, with the speed of workstations, networks, and printers, the performance decrease is less these days and the typical user will not notice major issue with colour or graphics quality.

PCL 5 output is, similar to Postscript, human readable (mostly).  PCL files can be opened in a typical text editor and commands such as paper orientation, tray selection and paper size easily found.  In fact, with a little knowledge (or 3rd party tools) you can systematically walk-through the file and determine exactly what the printer is being told to do.  This is useful in debugging and problem isolation.

In terms of post-processing, PCL 5 is a difficult language to convert to something else; however, the post-changing of paper tray selection and other elements is simple in that a search and replace for that value can be applied.

PCL 6

It should be recognized that PCL 6 is not an updated version of PCL 5 but rather a completely different language.  As such, most manufactures that includes PCL, include both PCL 5 and PCL 6 (sometimes referred to by its original name PCL XL).

We see this as a last resort language. Although it has resolved many of the potential downfalls of PCL 5 including better graphics, colour, and performance, it resolves these at a significant cost.  The output created by the printer drivers is not human readable.  It is a compiled executable that is run on the printer.  This makes debugging and post-processing nearly impossible without commercial 3rd party tools.

If Postscript and PCL 5 will not work with a particular application and PCL 6 does, our first statement regarding printer drivers holds true, in the end it doesn’t really matter.

This article was put together by a friend of PWW -  Doug Anderson, President of Ballistic Echo.