The reason I decided to write this post is to hopefully save someone from needlessly buying a Drum and a Toner when all they really needed was the toner. I’ve had to many customers come to my store with the Drum unit and toner in hand telling me their getting poor quality prints and they have to replace the toner. When I ask them how many toners have they used in this particular drum unit they will either say “I don’t know” or “I thought this whole assembly was the toner”. Can you believe that many of these customers told me that when they brought this unit to a big box store the customer rep never told them the difference between the two and proceeded to sell them both the toner and the drum without ever asking them some very important questions. We’ll attempt to make replacing Brother toners and drums an easy procedure.
What is a Drum unit and a Toner cartridge anyways?
First, let’s start with a little bit of information so all of this makes sense, no technical jargon here, just plain talk that everyone can understand. In many of the Brother printers there is a toner cartridge and a Drum unit and they are two separate units. The toner itself sits inside of the Drum unit and can be pulled out via a small blue lever on the top of the drum unit. In many of the other brands like HP, these two units are one, they don’t come apart, the toner and the drum are housed together, not so in a Brother laser printer. In the Brother type of setup, the toner cartridge is just that, it holds the toner or the medium that will be deposited onto your paper to produce the text and images you see. The Drum really does all the work. These machines are called laser printers because they use a laser beam to produce an image on the drum. The light of the laser alters the electrical charge on the drum wherever it hits. The drum is then rolled through the reservoir of toner which is picked up by the charged portions of the drum. Finally, the toner is transferred to the paper through a combination of heat and pressure and presto, you have a printed page.
What is the Page Yield?
Now, the important thing to know here is what is the page yield of the toner and the drum you are using and knowing when to replace what. Let’s use the Brother TN-560 toner and the Brother DR-500 drum unit as an example. The TN-560 toner is rated at 6,500 pages and the DR-500 drum is rated for 20,000 pages. So there is enough toner powder in the toner cartridge to theoretically get 6,500 pages depending on page coverage. The drum will wear out eventually due to the fact it can only receive so many laser light impressions before it can’t hold the negative charge anymore, hopefully around the 20,000 page mark. When that happens your print quality deteriorates.
So in both cases when one of these units starts to fail your print quality is going to suffer, how do you know which to replace? On most of the Brother machines you will get a warning that the drum unit needs to be replaced or the toner. Problem is, most owners don’t ever read the manual, so even if they do get this type of message they will take the entire unit out and bring it to the store for replacement. Understanding the difference between the two units and what function each unit performs is critical. So if you happen to own a Brother printer that does not give you a message saying your drum unit needs replacing, always buy the toner first. It usually cost much less than the drum. If that does not solve the problem, then buy the drum unit.
If you have one of the Brothers that do not give you the message that your drum needs replacing do what many of my customers have done. Tape a piece of paper to the side of the machine and write down the date you replaced the drum. So let’s use the example above to demonstrate. The TN-560 toner is rated for 6,500 pages and the DR-500 is rated for 20,000. It’s simply a matter of dividing one into the other to see how many toners you can use before replacing that drum. In this case the drum unit is good for approximately three toners. So if you know that you have only used one toner in the drum unit you have installed you now know that you have to buy the toner, not the drum. Why is this important?
Give the Customer the Information they need!
Let’s get back to the reason I’m writing this, as I mentioned above, there have been to many times a customer has come into my store with both units in hand and say’s he needs to buy a new toner. The first thing I’ll ask them is how many toners have they put through the drum? Most times they have no idea they are holding a two piece unit and that each part has a different function and a different page yield. Here’s the sad part, when they have brought this unit to Staples, the customer service rep never asked them the questions that needed to be asked, never took the time to explain to them what they were holding or that it may very well be that all they need is the toner. The only reason I’m using Staples as an example is this is the big box store in our area and that is the store always mentioned by my customers when this comes up. I know the reps get commissions on how much they sell but this is just plain dishonest. The TN-560 goes for $114.99 and the DR-500 goes for $188.99. In my store after explaining what’s going on, even if the customer is not sure how many toners have gone through the drum, which is the case most of the time, I will tell them to buy only the toner for now. Install it and if the problem goes away it’s all good. If it’s still there buy the drum.
With Staples the customer just dropped $303.99 and at Ink & Toner Solutions they paid $114.99 and got all of the information they needed so next time they can make an informed decision as to what they really need. Sure the sales rep sold twice as much as I did, got his commission but lost a customer. Once I take the time to explain the difference between a toner and a drum, what they do and what to look for, who do you think that customer will go back to next time they need a cartridge? I can’t begin to tell you how many loyal customers my staff has brought into my company just by being honest and taking the time to explain things. I can’t tell you how many times customer have told my staff that no one has taken the amount of time we have taken to explain whatever it is we are explaining to them. It’s very simply to me, when I go to a store and the sales rep takes the time to explain something to me, I appreciate it and will go back to that store before I go back to a store that treats me like I’m bothering them or taking up to much of their time. Just treat people like you want to be treated and be honest, simple!