It becomes doubly frustrating seeing your HP 2600n color laser printer churn out printouts with a lot of toner smears. But what can be even more disconcerting are smears that stretch over the face of the printed document; as if toner leaked inside the printer. Take note that toner cartridges are designed with a lot of safeguards to prevent leakage and there is just no way for toner to leak inside the laser printer. Unless of course if a corrupted cartridge is loaded or the user simply failed to correctly seal the cartridge when conducting refills using a compatible HP toner refill kit. In instances where toner smears are excessive, the likely cause would be a worn out contaminated image transfer belt (ITB).
The HP 2600n printer uses 4 toner cartridges, 4 OPC drums and 4 laser scanner assemblies in its operation. All toner particles that create the latent image on the OPC drum are designed to cling to the ITB before it comes in contact with paper. Therefore, toner transfers permanently to paper before entering the fuser assembly. And due to the continuous snake-like movement the ITB, it is prone to fail; particularly for the HP 2600n printer that was not designed to handle high volume print jobs. If the printer is new and still under warranty, the user must inquire from the local HP repair personnel for a replacement because a new ITB is really expensive and can be a big drain financially for regular users.
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However it the printer is already out of warranty, the user can perform minor troubleshooting work on the ITB to churn out several thousand pages more. For easy access to the ITB, the user should look for the large, black, plastic-looking type of sheet that normally pulls down with the front cover and try cleaning it manually with a soft cloth. If possible, manually rotate the ITB in order to clean the entire surface area (solvents should not be used due to its constituents that could damage the ITB). Thoroughly cleaning the ITB from contaminants will actually do the trick; to therefore allow the printout of more pages. But then again, this is only a temporary solution and is good only for a limited period of time, at best. When smear troubles resurface, it is time to bite the bullet and purchase a replacement ITB.
Remember, smears over the printouts is not due to an empty cartridge or the use of compatible HP toner refill kits but is actually a result of worn out and contaminated image transfer belt.