Printing on the back of a laser-printed page
Thread poster: Martin Wenzel

Martin Wenzel
Local time: 11:32
English to German
+ ...
Jul 4, 2007

I found a link on the net yesterday, which I cannot find again in a hurry, unfortunately...

In the link, the manufacturers claimed that the rollers inside a laser printer could be damaged if one refeeds the pages to print on the back because the paper that carries toner already can damage the rollers.

However, I have been doing this for ages...I have had the odd paper jam, but I always watch the printing and if the pages get stuck, I turn off the printer and just pull out the paper...

However, I would like to know if it's really that "unhealthy" for the printer...


Margreet Logmans (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:32
English to Dutch
+ ...
Never a problem Jul 4, 2007

We've done that for years, and quite a number of copies too (couple of thousands per year), never a problem. I don't even think we've ever cleaned the rollers.


tlmurray (X)
Local time: 05:32
Depends on duplex capability Jul 4, 2007

Most duplex add-on units are just mechanisms to reverse the paper and feed it back in.

Many printers reverse the rollers in the process, sucking the paper back in (LaserJet 4600) just as it's nearly all the way out of the exit slot. In others, it never appears until it's done (it's reversed inside).

So in other words, *most* of the paper path is traversed twice anyway by a printer with a duplex adapter.

I said *most* because one area that in normal duplex operation that does NOT get reused is the original pickup rollers -- the very first rollers that grab the paper from the tray -- and probably another set or two just past those.

If you do a lot of manual duplex and you've never cleaned the rollers, you're quite fortunate. Or the rollers are a very hard material that does not absorb particulate matter as do rubber rollers. But at least these are usually the easiest to replace.

[Edited at 2007-07-04 18:28]


invguy  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:32
English to Bulgarian
"Damaged" is a strong word Jul 5, 2007

... but indeed there are some undesirable effects:

Laser toner is a very peculiar substance (a nasty one, I'd say icon_wink.gif ). It consists of tiny (micron-size) graphite-based granules, which are pretty difficult to clean. Of course, when you print, granules get fused onto the paper through heating - yet when you bend or wrinkle a printed sheet, small particles of toner scale off. As such a sheet proceeds along the paper path, these accumulate inside the printer and can cause smudging, "dots" on the printout etc. So the more often you print on preprinted sheets, the more often you may need to open the printer and clean the inside - a tricky operation, especially around the corona wire which is very thin and can easily break.

Toner particles also tend to stick to the rubber surface of the transport rollers, clogging its microrelief and making it slippery - which may result in uneven transport and cause paper jams. If you notice correctly fed sheets coming out at an angle, this is most probably the reason. Cleaning the rollers is tricky too: toner doesn't get dissolved even in spirit, so you can never get the surface as clean as new - and you may end up having rollers that are not physically worn out but still cause jams because of uneven friction.

Last but not least important: toner particles can harm the photosensitive drum. Toner is fairly hard when fused and bigger agglomerations of granules can cause microscopic scratches to the drum surface; with time, this affects the ability of the drum to hold electric charge evenly - and subsequently affects print quality.

Anyway, all this is not as grave as it sounds. You need to print preprinted sheets by the thousands before you have a real problem. These considerations were more of an issue back in the times when 300-dpi toner was used (larger granules caused deeper scratches to the drum) and when laser printers and their parts were much more expensive than today.

I, for one, have been printing on both sides of paper ever since I got my first LaserJet in the early 90s. Not as a rule, but I guess half of all printouts that I do are double-sided.

I only avoid using the back side of sheets printed with large graphics or too much solid black. A page full of text has abt. 15% toner coverage which is not as harmful as e.g. a full-page photograph (60-80% coverage). Even less harmful are pages printed with a "Light" setting or in Economode (or whatever this is called in your printer's driver). Solid black areas cause the most harm because toner may scale off in bigger particles, clearly visible with a naked eye.

Hope this helps.


Martin Wenzel
Local time: 11:32
English to German
+ ...
Thanks Ivnguy, and all the others Jul 5, 2007

Your explanations helped...

I shall carry on with my routine except for pages with lots of toner on them...

I have had my HP printer for nearly 5 years now, and it's basically still doing ok...


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Printing on the back of a laser-printed page

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