Printer drum is a must-have consumable for most Brother, HP and Xerox laser printers. However, many new printer users don’t know much about printer drum. Some users even think that printer drum is toner cartridge. This often leads them to buy wrong replacements. So, under the guidance of our engineers, we write this blog to tell new printer users what is printer drum, and the difference between printer drum and toner cartridge. At the same time, we will answer some frequently asked questions and introduce some tips on using a printer drum.
What Is Printer Drum
Printer drum is also known as drum unit, imaging drum, drum cartridge. It is an unit equiped with a photosensitive roller that transers the toner from the cartridge to the paper, creating text, graphics and images we want. Almost all Brother laser printers require both the toner cartridge and drum unit to start printing. Some HP, Samsung and Xerox laser printers also have a drum cartridge. But most HP and Canon laser printers combine the toner cartridge and drum unit into the same cartridge system. So they don’t have a separated imaging drum unit. But in fact, they all use the same laser printing technology.
Let‘s look at printer drum units for popular printer brands.
Drum units for Brother printers:
- Brother DR730
- Brother DR223CL
- Brother DR221CL
- Brother DR820
- Brother DR630
- Brother DR520
- Brother DR420
Imaging drums for HP printers:
Imaging drum units for Samsung printers:
- Samsung MLT-R116
- Samsung MLT-R204
Drum cartridges for Xerox printers:
Drum units generally last longer than toner cartridges, but will eventually need to be replaced to maintain print quality. Separate drum units and toner cartridges are often used in Brother, HP, Samsung and Xerox laser printers. By separating them, users can replace only the toner or drum that runs out, thus reducing unnecessary waste and cost.
Printer Drum vs Toner Cartridge
The printer drum and toner cartridge work together, but they’re not the same type of product. Here are the differences between them from three perspectives:
Definition & Function
Printer drum, also called photoconductor unit. It receives the electrostatic charge from the corona wire. And then it transfers the toner particles onto the paper to create the desired text or image. The toner cartridge, on the other hand, contains the toner powder used to create text or images on the paper.
The drum cartridge is normally a cylindrical-shaped component that rotates during printing. It is made of a light-sensitive material that can hold an electrostatic charge. The toner cartridge is a container shaped like a rectangular box that holds the toner particles.
The printer drum unit and printer toner have different lifespans, and the frequency of replacement varies by printer model and usage. The printer drum has a higher page yield than the toner cartridge, so the drum will last longer than the toner. It may only need to be replaced every 3-4 toner cartridge replacements or after a certain number of prints. However, the printer toner needs to be replaced more frequently. It’s time to replace it after printing a certain amount or when the toner level is low.
In short, laser printer drum and laser printer toner have distinct differences in their function, structure, and replacement frequency.
Tips on Using Printer Drum Unit
Here are some tips on using and maintaining your printer drum unit:
Use excellent quality toner. The quality of the toner can impact the longevity and performance of your drum. Thus it is vital to use premium toner compatible with your printer.
Avoid touching the drum. Please avoid touching it or any other parts of the drum cartridge, as this can lead to print quality issues.
Handle the drum carefully. When removing or installing the cartridge, be careful not to drop it or apply too much force.
Replace the drum when necessary. The drum has a limited lifespan, and it will eventually need to be replaced. Keep an eye out for warning signs like smudges, streaks, black spots, error messages… When you see these unusual, it’s time to act!
Store the drum unit properly. Do not expose it to direct sunlight or bright artificial light. Make sure to store the drum in a cool, dry place. If you’re not ready to use it, it’s best to keep it in its original packaging or a protective case.
Use the printer regularly. Lack of regular use may result in the toner drying up, which can impair the drum unit’s performance. You should use your printer at least once a week to keep the toner flowing and prevent buildup.
Keep the printer clean. Periodically remove any debris or dust from the printer and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or humidity.
Use the printer’s power-saving mode. Laser printers generate a lot of heat, which can damage the drum over time. To reduce the risk of damage, use your printer’s power-saving mode when it’s not in use.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It will provide you with specific guidance on how to use and maintain your drum properly.
Frequently Asked Questions about Printer Drum Unit
1. How long does a printer drum last?
Generally, printer cartridge drums are rated to last between 10,000 and 100,000 pages. When purchasing, you can easily find the estimated page yield, which is commonly the page output at 5% coverage of A4 paper. This is the number of pages you can expect to get. But the lifespan of a printer drum depends on various factors such as the type of printer, usage frequency, and usage patterns. Therefore, the actual number of pages received is less than estimated.
To determine when a drum requires replacement, you may observe the following signs:
Fading or light print quality;
Blotches, black spots, or streaks on prints;
Smudging or ghosting on prints;
The printer warning or error message.
The exact text that appears on the printer to remind you to replace the drum may vary based on the printer’s make and model. Below are some common messages you might see include:
“Replace drum soon”
“Drum end soon”
“Replace drum now”
“Drum life low”
If you notice any of these signs, it is an indication that you should prepare to replace the drum soon. Replacing the printer drum on time is essential to maintain the print quality and to avoid further damage to other parts of the printer.
2. What happens when printer drum goes bad?
When a drum cartridge goes bad, you may experience a range of printing issues, including:
Poor print quality: such as faded prints, streaks, blotches, or smudges on the page, etc.
Toner buildup. A bad drum can cause toner buildup on the drum surface, leading to toner particles sticking to the page and causing toner smears.
Paper jams. A damaged or worn-out drum can cause paper jams as the toner fails to adhere to the page correctly, leading to the paper jamming in the printer.
Error messages. The printer may display error messages indicating a problem with the drum or low drum life.
To maintain optimal printer performance, we recommend replacing the drum promptly if you encounter any of these issues.
3. When the drum cartridge goes bad, whether it will need to reset the drum counter after I replace a new one?
Yes. In most cases, you will need to reset the drum counter after replacing a bad cartridge drum with a new one. The drum counter is a feature in the printer that keeps track of the number of pages printed using the current drum. Once the drum has reached its recommended page yield, the printer will display an error message, and you will need to replace it.
After replacing the drum, the drum counter will still show the old drum’s page count. This can cause confusion and lead to premature drum replacement. Resetting the drum counter will help ensure that you get the maximum page yield from the new drum and avoid any premature replacement.
To reset the drum counter, please follow the instructions provided in your printer’s manual or check the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on your printer model.
If you have a Brother printer, you can refer to our blog Reset Brother Drum Counter for operation.
More blogs on troubleshooting Brother printer issues:
4. What causes cartridge drum wear and tear?
There are several factors that cause wear and tear on the drum, including:
Poor quality toner. Low-quality toner can cause the drum to wear out faster due to the abrasive particles present in the toner.
Overuse. Using the printer too frequently can cause the drum to wear out faster.
Improper handling. Touching the drum or exposing it to dirt or debris can cause scratches and wear, which can reduce its life.
Exposure to light. The drum is sensitive to light, and prolonged exposure to light can cause it to wear out faster.
To ensure that your drum unit lasts as long as possible, it is crucial to take the following measures:
Use high quality toner. Using quality toner with your printer can reduce wear and tear on the drum and extend its lifespan.
Avoid overuse. Using the printer in moderation is a good way to prevent harm to the drum.
Handle with care. Avoid touching the cartridge drum, and handle it carefully when replacing or cleaning it.
Store the printer in a dark, cool place. Exposure to light and heat can damage the drum. It is advisable to store the printer in a cool, dark place when not in use.
Follow manufacturer guidelines. To maximize the lifespan of your drum, it is significant to follow the maintenance and replacement instructions provided by the manufacturer.
5. Are all drum cartridges compatible with all printers, or are there specific models that are required for certain printers?
Not all drums are compatible with all printers. Printer drums are designed to work with specific models and printer brands. Using an incompatible drum may damage your printer or cause bad printing.
When selecting a replacement drum for your printer, it is important to make sure that it is compatible with your specific printer model. And it’s worth noting that some printers integrate the drum and toner into a single unit, creating an all-in-one drum and toner cartridge. In this case, you will need to ensure that you are purchasing the correct all-in-one cartridge for your printer.
If you are unsure about what your printer is compatible with, you can consult with the manufacturer’s customer support team or a professional printer technician for guidance. Our customer service is also available anytime via live chat, email, or phone.
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