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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.


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