Friday, February 20, 2009

A Decent Human Being

I must now sing the praises of a stranger on the Internet, who provided a solution to a very perplexing and potentially expensive problem.

Somewhere between two and three years ago, I bought a Laser Jet 2600n for Pookatales Press. Awhile back, I began noticing a variance in the distribution of the magenta toner on some of the images I printed out, but assumed the cartridge just needed to be shaken to redistribute the toner.

That wasn't the problem. I replaced the nearly-empty color cartridges, but when some of my mini book text wasn't as dark as it should be and the graphics looked faded, my husband and I started looking into the problem. Nothing helped--not recalibration and not bumping up of pixels or toner intensity--nothing. When we printed a test page, everthing else looked okay, but the magenta looked...faded. I assumed the cartridge was damaged, and went out the next day to replace it. That didn't fix the problem, and I had nothing else to try. So I Googled a question about why my printer was not printing the magenta correctly--hoping that by chance, someone would have an answer. And they did.

Turns out the HP Color Laser Jet 2600 series all have a common design flaw: the mirrors deep inside get gunked up with dust and toner, especially the mirror that is on the bottom. The magenta cartridge is on the bottom, which is why it shows symptoms first, but eventually all the colors will get faded and icky. HP apparently hasn't addressed the problem, but someone took one of the printers apart and figured out what was causing the issue. Not only that, but he made a PDF file with detailed instructions (including pictures) for how to take apart the printer and clean the gunked-up mirrors. I was extremely impressed. I found the question and Mark Froggatt's reply on this page, with the PDF file of the instructions attached to his post.

This person has just saved me a lot of money and hassle. Of course, the Huz was the one who got to take apart the printer and put it back together again, but he says that he'd never have dared go so far into the innards of the printer without those directions. We'd have had to replace an otherwise perfectly good printer after use for less than three years, had this person not taken the time and trouble to put a solution out there for anyone to use. Some days I actually gain back some faith in my fellow humans. This was one of those days.

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