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Wide Format Printer Terminology - Your Ultimate Guide

Wide Format Printer Terminology - We've all experienced the stress of having a broken laser printer and a service technician says a part needs to be replaced that you've never heard of. You try to find the part online and discover it's referred to as different names across multiple websites. How are you able to figure out what part you need when everyone can't seem to agree on what the actual name is?

We've been selling wide format parts for many years and heard many different names to common service parts. Service Organizations tend to lean towards the OEM jargon where Print Shops use a wide range of terminology depending on their technical background. As you can image there are hundreds of parts used in laser and inkjet printers, so we're going to focus on products that we sell.

Here's our top most popular wide format printer related phrases and what they're used for.


We can thank manufacturers whom like to use their own words when introducing a new series of printers. Some common phrases are: wide format printers, large format printers, laser printers, plotters, copiers, or MFP (Multi Function Printer). As long as you tell us the model number of your Canon, KIP, Ricoh, Oce, or Xerox printer, we'll be able to figure out the rest.

Toner and Ink

Toner and ink is what is applied to the paper as an image, text, or both. Laser printers use toner, which is a fine powder that is typically black but can also come in various colors. Inkjet printers use ink, which is a liquid substance that comes in multiple colors.  

Here's an example of a cartridge that would be filled with toner.

Here's an example of a cartridge (tank) that would be filled with ink.

Cartridges, Tanks, and Bottles

These terms are interchangeable between laser and inkjet printers. Cartridges and tanks remain in the printer until empty. A few examples are the Xerox 3050, 8830, 8850 toner cartridges and the Canon 701, 702, 706 inkjet cartridges.  

The contents of bottles are emptied into a port in the printer to refill an internal reservoir. These include the Oce B1, B4, B5, 700M, Plotwave 300, and Plotwave 700 toner cartridges.

Here are two examples of cartridges and tanks that are left in your large format plotter until they are empty.

Here are two examples of toner bottles that refill the internal reservoir of your wide format printer and copier. These toner bottles are completely emptied before using your printer.

So far we've been discussing products that are easily replaced when they run out. We'll now move onto service parts that should be replaced by an experienced service technician or someone very familiar with their installation. The installation of these parts can be complex and you run the risk of damaging your printer if not installed correctly. With that said, we strongly urge that products mentioned below only be handled and installed by a service technician.  

Photoreceptor (OPC) Drum

Service Technicians will refer to this as an OPC drum. OPC stands for Organic Photo Conductor. The drum is responsible for transferring toner to the paper. It's a long cylindrical tube that has a mirror like coating. Manufacturers use different color coatings on the drum depending on the printer.

OPC drums can easily be damaged during installation and should only be handled by experienced service technicians. It's extremely delicate and should not be exposed to light for extended periods of time. You should never let anything come in contact with the drum's surface, especially your own hands. Do not attempt to clean the photoreceptor drum with any chemicals or wipe it with a cloth.  

This service part is only used with toner based printers manufactured by Canon, KIP, Ricoh, Oce, or Xerox.

Cleaning Blade Assembly

The cleaning blade assembly is designed to wipe off toner that has built up on the OPC drum. Think of it as a windshield wiper for your photoreceptor drum, but made out of a polyurethane material. A damaged cleaning blade can cause damage to the drum, so we always recommend replacing it along with the OPC drum. The alignment of the blade against the drum is crucial and precise that it should only be installed by an experienced service technician.

Fuser Roller

The fuser roller heats the toner onto the paper. Some people also refer to this as the Hot Roller, because this part gets really hot. Don't worry, your paper won't catch fire, because it passes through the fuser roller so quickly. If you start to notice toner is wiping off of the paper, then it might be time to replace your fuser roller.

Pressure Roller

The pressure roller applies pressure between the paper and the fuser roller.   Some people also refer to this as a Back Up Roller. As you can see from the picture, the paper is passed between the pressure roller and the fuser roller in order to melt the toner onto the paper.  

Roller Diagram

There is much more to laser printing technology than we can possibly cover here. If you would like a more in depth look, then check out "Laser Printing" on Wikipedia.

Whether you call it a Wide Format Printer or that big toaster in the corner, our Sales Team is ready to assist you in finding consumables and service parts for your printer.  

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