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How to Overcome the Problem of Poor Quality Prints from my Printer

From time to time you may experience some poor print quality from your printer in the form of broken text lines or half printed images. This is usually a problem caused by the print head that is located either in the printer or in the ink cartridge itself. The majority of inkjet printers manufactured by Brother, Epson, Samsung, Dell and Advent have print heads located in the printer. These can become clogged with dried ink if the printer has not been used frequently and can lead to poor quality prints. For those of you who only print the occasional boarding pass this will be more of a concern than those who print regularly either daily or weekly.

For the majority of HP and Canon inkjet printers, the print head is integrated in the ink cartridge. The theory behind the logic in locating the print head in the cartridge rather than the printer is that every time you replace the ink cartridge you are in effect replacing the print head. This obviously makes the ink cartridges more expensive to buy and you will usually find the printer will take 2 cartridges, one colour and one black.

In order to clear the blocked print heads you need to perform a simple head cleaning procedure and this can be achieved either through the printer, (if the printer has an maintenance facility) or from your PC or MAC. If you have an interface on your printer you should be able to access the maintenance > Tools > head cleaning. If you have a more basic model of printer that doesn't have a user interface on the front of the printer simply go to file > print > properties > maintenance > head cleaning. It is recommended that you print out a test page following each head cleaning procedure as this will give you the result of your clean. If for some reason the clog on the print head is very sever it may take 5 or 6 attempts at the head cleaning before the blockage is cleared but you should see a gradual improvement on the test print as you progress.

If you have an ink cartridge with an integrated print head it is also possible to remove the cartridge, take a piece of kitchen town and damped with luke warm water and manually gently wipe the area where the ink exits the cartridge. This can help the flow of the ink if there is a blockage that the head cleaning procedure won't shif but is only worth a try on the intergrated print head ink cartridges.


How and where should I get my business cards printed?

If any of you, like me, work for a UK-based design business and have been looking for a reliable and cheap business card printing service, here are a few words of advice on how and where you can get your business cards printed online.

There are all sorts of ways to print business cards. You can print them digitally or lithographically, you could have them printed at the same time as your stationery to ensure a perfect colour match (I've worked with some clients who insisted on this). You can produce cards in 1 colour, 2 colour or 4-colour (CMYK). If your client has a specific colour palette, you can add special Pantone colours (these days it's not unusual to find a press that prints 5, 6, 7 or more colours in one run). You can also print the cards thermographically (you know when the text is raised off the paper - gives a nice quality feel. Could be good if you're into some kind of American Psycho-esque business card comparison with your friends!). There are also endless variations in paper and materials - FSC-approved, recycled, high-quality, low-quality or even plastic. Then you can add a laminate - silk, matt, gloss... You get the picture.

The thing is, they're just business cards. Aren't they? They're just an easy way of giving someone your number and email address. Do you really need so many options?

For me, it's not about the card, it's about what's on it - the content and the design. When I get my business cards printed, all I'm looking for is something are two things. Something that looks and feels good quality, and something that's good value.

I've been through enough conversations with clients who are arguing that the colour of their business cards has changed a fraction from the last time they were printed, or "they're not identical to our letterheads", and I'm tired of them. I've literally seen them sitting there with a magnifying glass comparing one with the other. But I'm not putting up with that any more.

These days, if someone wants business cards, I tell them I can print them 500 full colour cards, on a decent, thick stock, with a nice, quality, laminated finish, for £50. I tell them that the laminate will make the colour look slightly different to their letterheads. But I also tell them that the logo on their website will also look slightly different, because it's showing in a combination of red, green and blue, as opposed to cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

And you know what, most of them say, "Fine - I trust your judgement". Of course, there will always be those clients who want an exact match, but they're simply not worth the effort. For them, I tell them I'll happily do the design, but I'm not a printer, so I don't want to argue with them about their colours. Instead, I give them the names of several good colour printers I know, as well as my favourite online printers, and I let them sort it out themselves. That way, I can concentrate on the bit I like, and that I know will make me money. They're happy too because they pay less for their print.

So which companies would I recommend for printing? Well, if you want the personal touch, you can't do better than a family-run company in Tiverton (Devon) called Maslands. I've used companies all over the UK and I can quite honestly say that the service from the team at Maslands simply can't be beaten. These guys are a B2 printer, which means that they're good at medium-sized print runs (anything from 1,000 to, say, 10,000 copies of something).

If you're looking for higher volumes, you'll need a B1 printer. I use a company caller Sterling Solutions in Kettering as well as Taylor Bloxham (more expensive but excellent quality) in the Midlands.


Wireless Computer Printer

Deciding to buy a wireless computer printer for your home or office is a step in the right direction especially if you have multiple wireless-enabled systems that need to use the printer. There is less frustration involved when it comes to remote access and you won't have to leave any computer on just to make the computer printer appear on the network. Because these printers cost a bit more than their non-wireless counterparts, you should take on various angles when purchasing a wireless computer printer.

Know the Printing Speeds
Not everyone cares about the speed of the printer and those people are the patient type. But patient people won't be looking for a wireless computer printer in the first place. If you are even thinking about going wireless it is probably because you want multiple systems to use the computer printer and that simply won't happen right away if one computer makes lengthy printing request. If another computer decides to make a printing request while another is in session, the request will be added to the queue and that is where slow printing speeds can hamper productivity. Speeds are normally measured in ppm or pages per minute so look for high numbers. Printers with high ppm go from 24 and higher.

See if the Size is Ideal
There are small, medium, and large printers available for different types of consumers. This applies in the wireless computer printer category as well so be sure to look at models with noticeably different sizes. It is better to go to your local computer shop just to see an overview on what printer sizes you have to deal with. Big printers are usually equipped with more features and trays but are not very mobile unless they have wheels. Still, smaller wireless computer printer designs are usually less expensive and are ideal for home use since they do not take up much space.

Analyze the Top Features and Weigh them Against the Printer's Price
Some printers may have attractive prices attached to them but you will never know if the money is worth spending until you find out the features. It may boost special ink technologies for conserving ink. Other printers may have touchscreen displays for more convenient operating. If any of the top features do not make much of a big deal, you may be able to find a cheaper printer that handles the basics just fine. You won't be able to realize the unique features of a printer until you continue to check out different models from different manufacturers.

Find Out the Connectivity Options and Accessories
Wireless connectivity is already a huge convenience but highly competitive manufacturers want to give consumers more reasons to purchase their printers. Some printers may have a USB port or card slot so you can actually do print operations without operating a computer. This is nice if you want to do rush tasks quicker and still have the flexibility of a wireless computer printer.
It is unlikely that you will find the best computer printer for your needs which is why you should do some exploring and narrow down the selection to a few good models that not only look appealing to you but have been highly praised by customers and critics alike.


Inkjet Printer Buying Guide - Pros and Cons for the Consumer

Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Lexmark are responsible for the majority of inkjet printer sales and printer supplies in the global consumer market. If you have plans to buy an inkjet printer, this article will definitely help you in arriving at the right choice.

What are the different types of inkjet cheap printers available in the market?

Basic Inkjet Printers:

If you need to print web pages, spreadsheets and text documents, a basic inkjet printer that uses CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key) or black ink will best suit your needs.

Inkjet Photo Printers:

To create higher-quality photo prints, use six-color inkjet photo printers with CMYK ink as well as light cyan and light magenta. Do you want to print photos directly from your digital camera? Go for inkjet photo printers with an LCD preview screen, PictBridge to transfer images directly from your digital camera over USB and media card slots compatible with the memory cards you use in your digital camera.

Portable Inkjet Printers:

You should select a printer that weighs less than 5 pounds if you travel a lot on business.

Inkjet Multifunction Printers:

This printer allows you to print, scan and copy, all at the touch of a button. However, you will you have to compromise a little on quality. Printers with faxing capabilities are also available.

What is the maximum printing speed of an inkjet printer?

The speed of an inkjet printer is measured by the number of pages it can print per minute (ppm). A standard inkjet printer has three levels of quality settings: draft, normal and best. The speed decreases if you want high quality outputs. Manufacturers test the speed of a printer by printing basic text at the lowest quality setting, If you plan to print at normal quality settings, the real speed is likely to be about half the speed stated by the manufacturer.

If you often print graphics with your inkjet printer, speed is an important factor. Based on your printers system configurations, print mode, page coverage, document complexity and software, print speeds vary. In a standard inkjet printer, print speed for black text differs between 1 to 28 ppm. For color photos and graphics, speeds range from 1 to 20 ppm.

What resolution is good for quality printing?

Another area you have to concentrate on is print resolution. Printers are identified as being of good quality if they feature print resolutions in excess of 1440 dots per inch (dpi). The maximum color resolution that an inkjet printer generally has is 2400 x 1200 dpi. Some high-end models have up to 4800 x 1200 dpi. Look for a resolution of least 600 x 600 dpi for text printing and a minimum of 1200 x 600 dpi for graphics and photos. It is important to remember that the quality of output does not depend upon the resolution alone. It also depends upon the inkjet system used by the manufacturer and the colour management system.

In what way can memory capacity and memory card slots assist you?

Memory capacity should be a major factor when buying an inkjet printer because the built-in RAM cannot be expanded. You should check how much RAM is included with the printer you intend to buy. Basic models have 768 KB of RAM while the standard photo model comes with at least 8 MB of RAM for printing high-quality images.

Several inkjet printers feature memory card slots that support CompactFlash, Smart Media, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/MultiMedia Card and XD-Picture Card as well as other more advanced memory cards. Before buying a printer, confirm that it can read the memory cards that you already own.

Are you looking for a printer to share?

If you want to share a printer with other computers over a home or business network, you should check to see whether it has a wired or wireless connection. Inkjet printers connect to your computer through a USB or FireWire (IEEE 1394) port. Today, many printers use Wi-Fi technology to print wirelessly. Some models of inkjet printers are network-ready right out of the box, while others come in standalone and network-ready versions. The most expensive option is an inject printer that support a network add-on. However, this model may be more economical in the long run if you want to share the printer with other people.

What is the paper handling capacity of the printer?

The paper handling capacity should be of great concern to you if you print frequently or in bulk. In such cases, search for a printer that can hold a large quantity of paper at a time. Many inkjet printers have paper trays that take up to 250 sheets. Inkjet printers with ship paper trays can handle only 100 or 150 sheets and envelopes. Few business-oriented models feature option of additional paper trays.

Which type of printer cartridge is better?

Every standard inkjet printer comes with four ink colors based on the CMYK color method. Normally, the cyan, magenta and yellow inks are packaged in individual containers within a single cartridge. A separate cartridge with black ink is also included.

Today, most professionals use three types of inks for their inkjet printers. Solvent inks are low in price and used for producing vehicle graphics, billboards and banners. UV-curable inks dry quickly and are mainly used for good images. For better color and durability, dye sublimation inks are preferred.

While purchasing an inkjet printer, find out which type of ink cartridges it takes and ensure that replacement of these cartridges is easy. Also check whether you can replace individual ink cartridges or you have to replace the entire bunch at once.

Which are the inexpensive head designs for inkjet printers?

Every inkjet printer has either a fixed or a disposable head design. The fixed head design is built-in and lasts for the entire life of the printer. Most inkjet heads feature micropiezo technology for precise dot placement. With this fixed design, you do not have to replace the head every time the ink runs out. The disposable head design comes with ink cartridges. You will have to replace both the cartridges and print head once the ink is exhausted.

What are the consumables in an inkjet printer?

Many models of inkjet printers have detachable drums, printer ink cartridges, developer units, fusers and a few other components which need occasional replacement. Combining all these consumables into one cartridge is the best approach. Replacing an integrated cartridge is less expensive when compared to the expense of replacing individual consumables at a time. But if one component fails in an integrated cartridge, then you have to replace the cartridge itself. Also, find out the cost for per-page printing as it differs among cheap printers. The per-page printing cost can be calculated by dividing the price by the evaluated output of a cartridge.

If inkjet is not for you, consider laser printers.


Printer Buying Basics

Everyone that has owned a computer knows that a printer is a vital component to any home computer system. If you have a business small or large, a printer is often an essential component. There are many types and kinds of printers that contain any number of useful functions. Whatever print job you require there is a printer out there that will meet your needs.

One very useful printer is the multifunctional or all in one printer. These printers can include a fax machine, copy machine, scanner and some even have a telephone. The affordability of multifunction printers can vary and depend a great deal on the final output quality of the prints. It is important to realize that just because a multifunction printer is expensive does not necessarily mean that it is a better one. Some lower cost multifunction printers are extremely useful and may perform to an acceptable quality for your needs.

There are many reputable printer manufacturers such as Canon, HP, Lexmark, Epson and Dell to name a few. Each manufacturer offers something new and different to the printer industry. For a long time, HP was the leader in home computer printer technology. However, over the last few years many have turned to the lower cost, but still high quality offerings of it's competitors.

While a printer may seem affordable at the time of purchase, be sure to check a few details. What cost are the ink cartridges to replace? Buying an inexpensive printer is not going to be worthwhile if the ink cartridges cost you more than the printer itself to replace. Be sure that the printer cartridges suit your budget. Does the printer take normal, everyday paper? Be sure that the paper used in the printer is not some foreign, specialty paper that will cost you a small fortune to purchase. Most printers are bought complete and are ready to run straight out of the box. However, some printers do not include ink cartridges or connecting cables so be sure you have everything you need before leaving the store.

Some printers are sold with ink cartridges that are only half full, whilst others contain more than the replacement cartridges. You should make an effort to enquire as to the ink volumes within both the replacements and originals. Many retailers are now recycling ink cartridges to help with environmental issues. In exchange for your old cartridges, the retailer will offer you a small discount on new or manufacturered ink cartridges.

Whatever your printer needs, take your time, research and know exactly what you need in a printer way before you decide to purchase. Then you can shop with confidence.


Printer Options for Your iPad

The iPad wasn't necessarily intended to have printing capacities. According to Apple?s vision, you are supposed to use your iPad as a portable computer and browser, so it was thought that you wouldn't be using your iPad in proximity to any kind of printing solution, except as a coincidence. As far as printing goes, it seems they initially went more of the iPhone route: the idea being that if you're near a printer, you're also near your home computer which can handle your printing needs. Of course people decided they'd rather print directly off the iPad. After all, if you've downloaded or generated a document in one place, it doesn?t make sense to take it to another place just to print. If you want to print something, why add needless steps to the process? Printing directly from an iPad should be an easy technical challenge to solve. So iPad printing solutions have been developed in the form of apps that send your data to a wireless printer. Just look at your printer?s manufacturer, and check their website as well as the App Store. Search the App Store for printer apps attuned to your printer?s manufacturer.

You shouldn?t need to mess around with printer cables or even USB if your printer is also on a WiFi network. Any app you buy from the App Store will be able to send your data to a printer on your wireless network. If you are working with an older printer that doesn?t have a wireless connection, you will probably have to simply use your desktop to print. This will add the step of sending your file to yourself as an email attachment.

One more piece of advice I have for you is this: ask yourself what you think you?re going to get out of printing from your iPad?

If you are looking for the accessibility of paper in a portable setting, then the iPad is a great way to deal with the printing issue. The technology may not be all the way there yet, but the iPad is ultimately supposed to reduce our reliance on paper. The world is becoming digitized, and the iPad is another step along that path. If you?re printing something, anything, in order to pass around to a group of people working on a project together, just consider getting their email addresses in advance, and mailing them your documents instead. Paper is often unappreciated clutter. In most places, even invoices are better dealt with electronically.

If you are looking for the permanence of a paper record, the reality is that digital solutions are more permanent than paper nowadays. With more and more backup solutions, both online and within your desktop hardware, there is less reason to make paper copies of documents. Also, digital records are preferable because they can be accessed and analyzed by statistical software much later. It is easier to pull up records with a few clicks than to dig through a filing cabinet.

In summary, you can print from your iPad with the right App, or by brute force through emailing documents to your desktop, but think twice before you do because the iPad is still new enough that printing can be a hassle and you may want to save some paper and the environment anyway.


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