Let us set aside negative perception towards recycled paper as a trigger to paper jams in the course of laser printing. Technically, media not designed for laser printing (even virgin paper) can be the culprit behind paper jams. The ghost of recycled paper past continues to haunt the paper industry, particularly those manufactured when Muhammad Ali still ruled supreme in the boxing world. Earlier releases of recycled media were of inferior quality and packed with paper dust that harm printer components. Well, the float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’ proponent has long been retired. But then papermaking technology improved twenty times over and recycled media already reached a status similar to virgin paper; making both paper types indistinguishable, except for the large red printed across the ream cover.
Several factors have now been identified as the cause of paper jams. And some factors do not even point out to paper quality but rather on the environment that paper is subjected to during storage. Here’s a quick look at pertinent factors:
- Media that are less than 24 gsm in weight are prone to crease easily and tear into pieces; if not scourge during laser printing.
- Paper stored for a long time (3 months or more) amidst a very hot environment has the tendency to be very dry (with less humidity content), wrinkle and tear which causes paper to jam.
- Similarly, when paper is stored amidst a cool, damp environment; it also has the tendency to absorb moisture over and above the recommended humidity content ideal for laser printing. Note that using moisture-laden media reduces the likelihood of paper to resist lateral shear imposed by the printer mechanical roller, which causes paper to tear and jam during printing.
The misconception that recycled paper is not suited for laser printing is no longer acceptable because modern papermaking methods have already addressed the factors confounding recycled paper. In fact, only around 10% of recycled paper produced enters the paper supply chain. And since there is no distinguishing mark for recycled paper and virgin paper, it is probable for picky laser printer users to have purchased recycled paper without them knowing about it.
Just like virgin paper, toner adhesion in recycled paper works similar and no visible difference manifests. However when faint prints appear on both paper products, certainly low toner supply is the primary cause. This can be resolved easily by replenishing the cartridge’s toner supply with compatible toner supplied with toner refill kits.