If you want to keep your printer or printer fleet well-maintained, having some repair supplies on hand is a good idea. Or, you may have a “printer emergency” and need supplies. But what exactly do you need? What is the difference between a maintenance kit, a fuser kit, or an imaging or drum kit in printing?
First, the supplies we are talking about apply to laser printers. These types of printers have different parts than inkjet printers or newer LED printers. With a lot of mechanical parts, laser printers need regular maintenance and upkeep to stay well-tuned and running smoothly.
Here we will explore the differences between the different kits, and which might be best for your print fleet, or if you should have all of them on hand.
1. What Is a Maintenance Kit?
A printer maintenance kit is exactly what it sounds like – a kit that has what you need to maintain your printer. Maintenance kits provide critical replacement parts for the printer that should be installed at the preset maintenance intervals recommended by the manufacturer.
This is kind of like the maintenance that needs to be done on a car when you hit certain mileage milestones. Unlike car maintenance intervals, which are denoted by miles driven, printer maintenance intervals are delineated by the number of pages printed.
It might be tempting to ignore the printer maintenance interval and alerts. However, by doing so, you are at risk of the printer malfunctioning or breaking down completely. You do not want to risk permanent damage to an expensive printer. Using a maintenance kit will save money in the long run.
What is included in a printer maintenance kit? It depends on the printer, as different types of printers will need different types of parts. Some of the common parts that might be included in a maintenance kit include a fuser or fuser assembly, transfer roller, feed rollers (also called pick up or separation rollers), and separation pads. Less commonly, the kit may contain a fan assembly and corona assembly. The kit may also include add-ons like gloves or special cleaning cloths (since toner can get everywhere!).
One of the most important parts of your laser printer is the fuser assembly. The fuser is what “fuses” the toner to the paper. It is helped by the electrically-charged transfer roller that is on the bottom of the toner cartridge. (The corona assembly provides the electrical charge.) The feed rollers move the paper through, and separation pads help them out by putting some tension on the paper so it can be pulled through more smoothly.
Separation pads are actually quite important – when they start to wear down, your laser printer will be much more prone to annoying paper jams.
The fan assembly does what it sounds like – flows air through the printer – but for a non-obvious reason, which is to keep the paper flat as it begins its path through the printer.
2. What Is a Fuser Kit?
A fuser kit contains a replacement fuser assembly. You would need this if your fuser breaks down. Different kits will have different parts of the fuser assembly, which is typically a heating roller (which goes on top) and a pressure roller (which goes on the bottom).
How do you know your laser printer needs a new fuser? Here are some telltale signs:
- The fuser is making a noise like a hum or a squeaking noise.
- The printer quality is failing with defects such as dark gray lines on pages or ghosting (repeated images).
- Your printer is throwing an error code that mentions the fuser.
- You are having paper jams at the fuser.
3. What is a Drum/Imaging Kit?
A printer drum or imaging kit is also critical for laser printer functionality. It is also called by names such as an “imaging drum,” “imaging drum assembly,” or “drum unit.”
The drum unit is the “laser” part of the laser printer. The laser “writes” what is to be printed on the drum. The laser actually changes the electrical charge of certain areas of the drum, which attracts the toner powder. The fuser then fuses the toner to the paper.
Sometimes people confuse the toner cartridge with the printer drum. Technically, the toner cartridge just holds the toner (which is a powder). However, many manufacturers sell the toner cartridge and drum as a combo, so each time you replace the toner cartridge, you replace the drum.
If you have a separate drum, then you may need to manually replace it periodically. This will be noted in your maintenance recommendations....or you’ll get an error message when it’s truly time.
ASE Direct has a full selection of maintenance kits, fuser assemblies, and drum/imaging units for your printer fleet. Browse our online store for printer supplies and more, or contact us if you need help determining which parts you need or help installing them.