Printer smears

Solutions when the printer smears

It’s always annoying when¬†a printer’s printout is smeared.¬†This phenomenon is common with¬†inkjet printers, but it is also¬†possible¬†with¬†laser printers.¬†It is therefore important that your printouts are always smear-free.¬†Below you can find out¬†what is causing your printer to smear¬†and what you can do about it.¬†Note that you¬†don’t necessarily have to send your printer in for repair¬†if it doesn’t print as you want it to.

Table of contents

Did you use the correct printer paper?

If your printer smears, it is very possible that the surface of the printer paper is rough or has too many fine fibers. With coarse-grained paper, inkjet printers soak up the printing ink so that it runs on the surface. But even if there are too many fibers, the printing ink can look frayed. This impairment of print quality primarily affects inkjet printers, but can also occur with laser printers. Solution:

  • Use different grades of paper
  • Then make a quality comparison
  • For the best print quality, use the paper recommended by the manufacturer

: If you need new printer paper, you should not only buy the cheapest paper. Cheap printer paper sometimes tends to release fine paper dust into your printer and thus dirty the printer. Use the best -tested paper that is designed for your printer.

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Are the settings correct for the printer paper used?

Even if you use the correct printer paper, your printer can smear.¬†Many modern inkjet and laser printers and their multifunctional devices can support¬†different paper thicknesses to a certain extent.¬†As a rule, these models have a¬†separate infeed for special paper and single sheets.¬†If you accidentally load thick paper in the standard paper cassette, the printer will not feed it properly.¬†It gets stuck in a certain place and doesn’t move any further.¬†Nevertheless, the print head continues to do its job and produces a smeared typeface because it is printing in one place.

Likewise,¬†paper¬†that is¬†too thick¬†can result in¬†too little distance between the surface of the paper and the printhead¬†.¬†This results in¬†the print image being smeared.¬†Perhaps you have also used paper that is too thick, which exceeds the manufacturer’s maximum thickness.¬†In this case, the ink-releasing print head rubs across the paper.

Even with laser printers, smearing occurs when paper that is too rigid is used. This can then not be passed over the imaging drum and gets stuck in the laser printer. Solution:

  • Use thinner paper
  • Change the paper quality in the printer software
  • Only print photos with special photo paper
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Is the print head dirty?

A common cause of smear is a dirty printhead. If, for example, the print nozzles are clogged with paper dust, dirt or dried-on ink, this results in increased ink ejection pressure during printing. The remaining free nozzles allow more ink than usual. Depending on the printhead and printer model, the ink droplets emitted are considerably larger. The printer paper cannot absorb this ink all at once. Likewise, the ink cannot dry on the paper surface in time. This causes the ink to smear onto the paper all the way to the paper exit.

Another problem arises when extra ink sticks to the clogged print nozzles. There is a small increase in particle residues here. When the paper is now pulled through the printer, this ink can lead to horizontal streaks on the surface of the paper. Solution:

  • Perform pressure nozzle cleaning regularly
  • Print a test page
  • Repeat the cleaning process several times

: Some printer cartridges have integrated print nozzles on the underside. If necessary, manual cleaning of the nozzles is also possible here. You can gently rub the nozzles with a lint-free cloth or cotton swab. Distilled water can also help. You can also put this cartridge overnight in a small bowl of distilled water so that the incrustations on the nozzles loosen. If the print result does not improve, replace the cartridges.

Here at Copiac you can order the right original cartridges as well as compatible printer cartridges for almost every inkjet printer. With Epson inkjet printers you get to the print nozzle cleaning as follows: Maintenance print head nozzle test Print head cleaning Ink cartridge replacement Print head alignment

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Have you chosen high quality photo paper for photo printing?

If your printer smears when printing photos, this may also be due to the photo paper. Please note that not every printer can handle photo paper. Inkjet printers, but also laser printers, can often only use photo paper up to a certain thickness. Either this gets stuck in the transport or the surface is not suitable. Solution:

  • Check the instruction manual to find out which paper your printer can use
  • Use thinner photo paper
  • Instead of a high-gloss coating, use matte photo paper

Tip: Photo paper for inkjet printers not only has to absorb the ink well, it also has to dry relatively quickly on the surface. You may only use heat-resistant photo paper with laser printers.

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Have foreign objects got inside the printer?

Foreign objects in the printer can cause the printout to be smeared. Often, tiny scraps of paper or lint from a recent paper jam build up in the printer. For example, some scraps of paper soak up ink and then stick to the new sheet of paper. Then there will be smears there. Whenever the printhead starts moving, the scrap of paper is also moved back and forth. This can be recognized by the horizontal and vertical stripes. Solution:

  • Turn off your printer and unplug it
  • Open the maintenance hatch
  • Carefully remove any scraps of paper
  • Then perform head cleaning
  • Print a test page and check the printout
  • Visible paint smears on the mechanism can be rubbed off with a cloth
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Are the printer cartridges damaged?

Most ink cartridges have a pressure equalization system in the form of a small opening. This compensates for the negative pressure in the ink cartridge. In rare cases the membrane of the opening is leaky, so that too much air can penetrate into the printer cartridges. Too much ink then flows to the print nozzles and creates smear marks when printing. Solution:

  • Take the ink cartridge out of the holder
  • Use a few sheets of kitchen paper and place the cartridge inside
  • Shake it a few times
  • If ink continues to leak, the cartridge is defective and should be replaced

: Here at Copiac, you get first-class printer cartridges that are precisely tailored to your printer. These ink cartridges ensure a perfect printout. However, should problems arise, you can make use of our 7-year guarantee and the 365-day money-back guarantee.

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Is the toner cartridge defective?

If your laser printer smears, it may be due to a defective toner cartridge. Perhaps the internal mixing shaft or the doctor blade is damaged, so that too much toner powder is dispensed at once. Solution:

  • Take the toner cartridge out of the holder
  • Place the cartridge in several layers of kitchen paper
  • Shake the cartridge a few times
  • Here you can see where the toner is leaking
  • The toner leak can be cleaned with a brush
  • Also, check the rest of the components to see if any toner powder has settled there
  • If necessary, you need to replace the toner cartridge

: Clean your laser printer regularly. The fine toner powder should not be fetched out of the printer with a vacuum cleaner, as it is so fine that it is blown back out of the vacuum cleaner into the air. Toner powder is harmful to health. If you need a new toner cartridge , you will find both original cartridges and compatible versions for almost every laser printer at reasonable prices here at Copiac.

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Have you neglected the maintenance of your printer?

You should periodically maintain your inkjet or laser printer. If the printout is smeared, it could be a full waste ink tank or waste toner box . You will need to change these full containers regularly. These components are also available cheaply here at Copiac. 

In the case of simpler inkjet printers, there is a small ink sponge inside that absorbs some ink after every cleaning or commissioning of the printhead. Over time, this ink sponge can fill up and no longer absorb ink. The remaining ink that escapes can result in a smeared printout. In this case, however, it is not worth repairing a very cheap printer. In addition, it is usually not easy to replace such a sponge.

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Is the fuser of the laser printer dirty?

The fusing unit has the task of permanently bonding the fine toner powder from the image drum to the paper. There are two rubberized rollers through which the paper is pulled. One of the rollers is equipped with a heating element. This can lose its heating capacity over time. The toner powder then no longer melts in the desired way and remains loosely adhering to the printing paper. Then when you pick up the printout, the characters smear. Solution:

  • First, clean the fuser rollers
  • Use a lint-free cloth or some kitchen paper for this
  • At the same time, check the rollers for damage

: You can also order a fusing unit for your laser printer or multifunction laser printer here from Copiac. When you install this, you also use the colored plastic slide on the imaging drum at the same time. This can be used to clean the corona wire.

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Is there a problem with the transfer roller or the transfer ribbon?

Color laser printers use transfer ribbons to transfer the toner to the paper, while monochrome laser printers typically use a transfer roller. Toner deposits can adhere to this roller or to the belt. These will cause your printer to smear. Solution:

  • Take the laser printer off the network and open the maintenance flap
  • The transfer ribbons are difficult to access because they are in the immediate vicinity of the imaging drum
  • You can clean the transfer ribbon with a lint-free cloth and a little distilled water
  • Let the transfer ribbon dry completely before turning the printer back on
  • If the transfer ribbon is defective, you must replace it
  • Transfer rollers of monochrome laser printers are exchanged together with the image drum

Tip: You can also find inexpensive image drums with transfer rollers here at Copiac.

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Did you accidentally switch the ink cartridges while installing them?

In most inkjet printers, several color ink cartridges are inserted into the print head side by side in the appropriate order. The color cartridges in particular look the same except for the color marking. If you remove all the cartridges from the printhead at once, it is very possible that you have accidentally inserted a printer cartridge for the color magenta into the slot for the color yellow. In this case, the color may be smeared or the printer may stop operating.

There are also printer cartridges for normal black and special photo black for some inkjet printers. You must not swap these two black cartridges, which can also result in problems with the print quality. The normal black is primarily suitable for conventional printer paper, while the photo black only achieves the best adhesion on photo paper. Your inkjet printer can smear on photo paper if it uses plain black instead of photo black. Tip: Make sure to use the correct orderwhere you need to install the printer cartridges in your printer. An example could look like this: Port 1 Port 2 Port 3 Port 4 Port 5: Photo Black Black Cyan Magenta Yellow

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Is the toner powder clumped in the toner cartridge?

Toner is an easily melting, flowable, slightly magnetic and dry powder which is located in a toner cartridge. If, for any reason, the toner powder has gotten wet, it may clump together. Damp clumps of toner make the printout look smeared. However, the color of fresh toner cartridges can also change if you do not shake the cartridge vigorously before inserting it. This prevents the toner from clumping. Solution:

  • Take the toner cartridge out of the printer
  • Place these on kitchen paper and near a heater
  • Let the toner dry completely
  • Then shake the toner cartridge vigorously
  • With a little luck, the clumps of toner will dissolve again
  • Otherwise you should get a new toner cartridge
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Has the printer paper got damp?

Likewise, if you accidentally use damp printer paper, your printer can smear. This phenomenon occurs primarily in ink jet printers. The ink from the cartridges runs on a damp surface and cannot optimally bond with the paper. You should therefore always ensure that the printer paper is dry. Replace damp paper with a dry stack of paper. In this context, you should also rub dry the paper cassette and clean it.


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