My toner cartridge is leaking… but the cartridge may not be the cause.

March 07, 2014


I get this question frequently from owners of Lexmark T series printers. (T620, T630, T640 and T650 series – all types.) The most common problem with a leaking cartridge is the waste bin of the cartridge has become full and will begin to dribble out onto the paper and all over the inside of the printer.

Let’s take a quick look at the printing process. Here is a simple explanation on laser printing. Open up your printer and pull out the toner cartridge and look in the top for the charge roller and the bottom for the transfer roller. Basically the toner is moved from the “hopper” to the drum and then to the paper.
We can break the printing process down into 4 steps: Charge, exposure, transfer & cleaning.
First there is the charge. In this step the drum is electrostatically ‘erased’

Charge-Roller-300x190

Charge-Roller-300×190

by the charge roller while it rides right on the drum. Once it’s fully erased it can be exposed.

The drum is exposed by the laser beam drawing an image on the drum.
Quite simply, wherever the laser hits the drum, toner is attracted to that spot. The drum continues to revolve as it’s passed close to the paper.

Transfer-Roller-300x194

Transfer-Roller-300×194

Once near the paper, the third step occurs: transfer. Toner is transferred from the drum to the paper. The transfer roller sits under the paper with a strong opposing electrical charge and pulls the toner from the drum and onto the paper. The drum continues its revolution and is cleaned internally by a wiper and any excess toner is wiped off and deposited into the waste bin.

Now, here is where the problem occurs. When the transfer roller gets worn out, less toner makes its way on to the paper and toner left on the drum is cleaned off. The result is that more toner is going into the waste bin during the cleaning wipe.

toner-cartridge-parts-300×224

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