Paper jamming – Dell 3100CN

3100cnA customer recently called in regarding paper jam issues on their Dell 3100cn color printer. After remote troubleshooting, a technician decided it was likely the roller set. Contacted Dell for replacement parts and ordered them. However upon reviewing the issue closer while onsite, I noticed that the 2nd paper tray had two loose tabs above the paper tray. A quick check confirmed that these were the locking mechanisms to connect the 2nd paper tray. While the tray appeared to work fine, over time, there was enough movement occurring to cause the trays to separate or move just enough for a paper jam to occur. Locking these in place resolved the problem without the need to replace the rollers.

A couple of take aways:

  1. Read the manual if you’re not familiar with this printer series – yes, most HP printers do not use a lock for the tray, but many (but not all) Dell printers do. Always be familiar with the directions on new equipment.
  2. If the printer is new and has a low page count, then it isn’t likely the rollers. New being ❤ years, and low page count being either half of a maintenance kit page count or very generally 10x the model number (so 30,000 pages in this case).
  3. Dell printers do not appear to be designed to be maintained. Over 45 screws to replace one roller and  a paper sensor.


MFP printer problem isolation/troubleshooting

cat5 cableSo typically in a mutli-vendor or multi-provider environment, it is best to isolate a problem to which vendor is responsible for a problem. This week I encountered a very interesting problem with a multi-function copier/scanner/copier. This happened to be a rather large canon unit (not to be confused with the desktop models). The typical demarcation point between the network provider and the copier provider is the network cable between the wall and the copier/printer. What happend in this case was that out of the blue the MFP unit stopped printing.

We started by trying to isolate the problem. We changed the printer into a known good network port, reset the print queue, and the device still showed off line in Window Server 2003. We also attempted to ping the device with no avail. We then connected a laptop to both the old and new network jacks, received and IP address properly and was able to perform network tests… So the network must be good – two known working ports… But…

The copier vendor arrived on site, confirmed the problem and then his troubleshooting began with verifying the network configuration (DHCP with a reservation on our servers), also tried to manually set the IP address, and also used a different IP address (statically). None worked on the network. Then he connected his laptop directly to the printer via a crossover cable, and in all cases tried above, it would print without a problem. So he rightfully claimed, it was definately not on the printer side…

So out of the interest of resolution, we decided on a vendor meet (both vendors onsite at the same time). We walked through various troubleshooting steps, and then I asked that he perform a factory reset or default configuration on the copier, and to my suprise, it was not available. He was, however, able to reset the controller via software. Note that we’ve already tried mutliple full power cycles. Yet, after he performed this reset, it grabbed the same (old) DHCP IP address and immediately started to despool from the server. Problem solved.

We then completed the testing, by power cycling the equipment, and performing additional printing test – all of which worked properly.

Lessons learned: Just because you believe you have rulled out your side, doesn’t mean it’s an absolute, but rather a pretty good indication.

Lexmark E120n

3d human try to turn the page

To say that I’m not a fan of Lexmark printers would be a significant understatement. Over the last 12 years, I have never had more trouble with any printer than Lexmark series units. From home ink jets to $4000 color laserjets, they are nothing but trouble for the IT Professional. And it was to my great dismay that one of our customers purchased the cheapest Lexmark E120n to replace their HP Laserjet 4050 for envelope printing.

However, it was with great astonishment that the E120n printer installed with ease and worked as promised out of the box. Infact the only configuration I needed to make out of the box directly related to the fact that they only used this for printing envelopes: Continue reading “Lexmark E120n”

Printer ROI

3d human try to turn the pageWhen reviewing what printer to purchase for your office, how do you go about choosing? There are the required features needed for your business, which may include color, networking, duplexing. There are the features which would be nice, but not require — color, networking, duplexing. And we seem to do pretty good figuring out these on our own. The next area, where most of us start with, is budget. However, this is the area which we seem to do the worst in. Why? Because the total cost of a printer is far less than the cost of the unit itself. If you felt a pinch the last time you went to purchase ink for your printer, you know what I’m talking about. Infact, I’ve been asked several times — wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy a new printer instead of the ink for it. And in some cases this would appear to be true.

The reality is that you’ll spend several times over the cost of your printer in supplies for it – primarily ink/toner over the life of the printer. So if that is the case, shouldn’t we be looking at the cost of the toner instead of the cost of the printer? The false assumption here is that all ink/toner is the same. Toner seems to average around $80 – $160 per cartridge, but the capacity can swing (in the same price range) from 500 pages to 10,000 pages.

What you should do is select the printer you think you need based on features, and then look at the specifications for the next two printers up the line. So in the HP series, this would generically be: right printer 2055 — up-line would be a 3000 and 4000 series printer.  Look up the price and capacity of the related toner cartridges – divide it out and now you have a very basic cost per page. Now take a look at what you estimate your printing to be – how many pages per month. Multiply your page counts over three or five years by the cost per page, and then add back in the cost of the printer. What most people find is that they are shocked to find that a $2000 printer is cheaper in the long run over a $499 printer – all because of the cost of the supplies. And this cost difference can be thousands of dollars.

And before you think about re-manufactured supplies, don’t do it — we’ll go over that another time — but both independent research and years of personal experience have shown these to be a bad deal almost every time.

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