Paper wave/curl caused by office laser printer

Tradidi

Well-known member
I am starting a small publishing venture, on a low budget, in a remote and isolated part of the world (New Zealand). This means I am limited to whatever is available locally and fits into my small budget.

I started off with an Epson EcoTank ET-16600, but the speed is too slow to be efficient, the duty cycle is a constant worry and the quality not too great (if you look closely).

Then I went for a Kyocera EcoSys p3155dn, which has a better speed, duty cycle and quality, but.. the paper comes out all wavy. I have spent days googling it, but 99% of the "solutions" out there are either not applicable or affordable. I have tested 6 different paper suppliers, some of them of a reputable quality, same problem. I have used paper from sealed packets, my environment is not excessively humid or dry or hot or cold, I have fanned the paper, turned it over, used the rear exit for a straighter path, printed single sided twice, changed the media settings, etc.. same problem.

I am also checking with Kyocera to see whether perhaps I have a dud printer with a fuser temperature that is too high. So far all I got was "this is within specs". Within specs? See the attached image!

I have read a few threads on this forum, one was especially interesting, about a printer from Israel who had the same problem and found the solution was to let the wavy books sit for two weeks and they would straighten out again. I have tried that, but no luck. It seems to me that the paper has been permanently deformed.

I now have three questions:

1. Is there any way I can solve this problem with my current laser printer?

2. What would be a way forward, considering my limited access to, and affordability of the latest and bestest technology?

3. How have other businesses managed to climb the ladder, from starting off on a shoestring to being able to afford the big toys? Can it be done without getting into debt or winning the lotto?

PS: The text blocks on the left were printer with the laser printer, the ones on the right with the inkjet printer.
 

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I don’t know anything about your printer, but it looks like a basic office machine. These are pretty limited and you have already tried everything I would suggest. My guess is they do not have a decurler unit due to the small size. Larger machines usually have a decurler unit or an option, which is how we get around this.


My suggestion would be if you can’t afford the investment in production level equipment at this time, to instead partner with trade printers as a broker. When you are ready to invest in appropriate equipment for your print business, I suggest testing your preferred paper and jobs on the equipment prior to making a decision - any production printer dealer will be happy to let you do this. I don’t know what’s available in New Zealand but most people would suggest shopping Ricoh, Konica, Xerox / Fuji and make a decision based on what is best available to you for service and supplies, quality.
 
Regarding the outsourcing to a trade printer, I have considered it and would happily go that way, but I came across two objections:

1. I can't find an affordable trade printer here in NZ. Perhaps they are a bit harder to find, so I will keep looking.

2. I have in the past outsourced the whole process, i.e. printing and finishing. But I found that either I have to price my books quite high, which is not competitive, or I let the trade printers make a good living and be left myself with peanuts, in which case I have zero prospects of climbing up the ladder.
 
For sure those are realistic objections, simply suggesting a path to try to grow your business without the significant debt.


To me it’s the balance of do you have the workload to assume the burden of a lease / debt on professional level equipment or is it better to send the work to someone who did.
 
One option I did look into is buying another laser printer, perhaps LED (which allegedly has a lower fuser temperature), or an older, slower laser printer/copier (considering high speed means higher fuser temperature, and low speed means lower fuser temperature). But I don't want to throw more money at it unless there's a reasonable chance of success.
 
@Tradidi we and I'm sure many other get this to some extent using production machines. I've found it a particular problem when making B/W pads printed to both sides, however depending on your environment and RH% at the time, leaving that stack for a few days can improve it considerably. Over time it does tend to fall out, I've found (with items we print and put in stock, then look at say one month later)
 
@Tradidi we and I'm sure many other get this to some extent using production machines. I've found it a particular problem when making B/W pads printed to both sides, however depending on your environment and RH% at the time, leaving that stack for a few days can improve it considerably. Over time it does tend to fall out, I've found (with items we print and put in stock, then look at say one month later)
Would that be because most production machines use laser based printers, and because of the heat inherent to all laser printers? Perhaps that is one of the reasons (if not the main reason) why there is a move towards inkjet printers, even, or especially, in production machines?
 
Not 100% sure, but there is a great trade printer in Australia called CMYKHub and they may ship to New Zealand. The only print for other printers...don't do any retail work.
 
I've run LED printers (the roll-fed type) and can confirm the fuser temperature on them was pretty much the same as a laser printer. Fusing is removing moisture from your paper, thereby causing the waviness. Inkjet printers don't have fusers, but you already know the tradeoffs.

Bigger equipment doesn't necessarily eliminate this issue. The combination of paper, equipment/settings and environment will play a role in the end result.
 
Not sure what your volume is and what you’re printing, text, graphics, or combination but there are other alternatives. LED printers will have a lower fuser temperature, but they’ll still suck moisture out of the sheets and this is what causes the sheets to become wavy after printing.

If you’re primarily printing text, then look at digital duplicators. They don’t use heat and you won’t have wavy sheets. The downside is that they don’t product graphics as good as a laser or inkjet would. Running cost of digital duplicators is significantly lower than laser or inkjet but the initial cost will be higher. Don’t consider any digital duplicator that has a resolution lower than 600x600. Digital duplicators aren't really in the low budget area of that Kyocera desktop printer you're using.

I agree with others that many times it just takes a few days for sheets to straighten out. Trying a different brand paper, different weight or even different grain direction may help with what you’re getting out of the laser printer. Don’t pile the sheets in tall stacks, keep them short. This isn’t going to be a one solution fix.
 
Can you give us a little more detail on what you are producing? Considering you're a publisher and also a printer, I'd guess you're possibly making perfect bound books? The photo you posted shows the interior sets. What is the trim size of your publication? Are you printing on Letter/A4 size sheets? 1-up or 2-up? Grain direction of the paper and orientation of your print should be considered if you're trying to get the best result. Have you gotten any feedback from your clients about the waviness?
 
1. Is there any way I can solve this problem with my current laser printer?
This is common on toner printers.. I think a part of the problem is the toner. It may be putting down too much (or perhaps a lot is normal for it). Notice the wave gets more noticable near the top of the pile. We see this when we pile a lot of sheets. The thickness of the toner, although very tiny, adds up as the pile increases. If you have perhaps 50 sheets on the table, is it still as wavy? Also toner print is essentially melted plastic. A thicker layer will have more contraction on cooling, than a sparse layer. I would try maybe an economy print setting, see if that improves the paper standing, without detracting too much from print quality. Also you probably have different paper settings. or the ability to select the stock. Try lying to it. Tell it you have thinner paper than you use. Good luck.
 
Can you give us a little more detail on what you are producing? Considering you're a publisher and also a printer, I'd guess you're possibly making perfect bound books? The photo you posted shows the interior sets. What is the trim size of your publication? Are you printing on Letter/A4 size sheets? 1-up or 2-up? Grain direction of the paper and orientation of your print should be considered if you're trying to get the best result. Have you gotten any feedback from your clients about the waviness?
Yes, I'm trying to produce perfect bound books. Here's my process:

1. I print A5 size text on A4 long grain copy paper (as this is the easiest and cheapest to get for me).

2. I then bind this with a Powis Parker 15 tape binder. I thought the bind quality and strength is quite good.

3. I print the covers on A3, 300gsm HP Pro-Design card using the inkjet printer, and laminate the essential part with nylon laminate (hot roll laminator) I source from the US. I use nylon laminate to avoid curling of one sided lamination.

4. I then manually apply glue (PermaTack) on the taped spine and glue the covers on.

5. Then I trim the A4 books down to A5.

So far I've only sold books that were printed on the inkjet printer. I've never sold any laser printed books because I think the standard (waves) is not acceptable.

I know this is a primitive way to print books, but beggars can't be choosers and at least I'm learning and hopefully will be able to start climbing up the ladder soon.
 
Cost per page is significantly higher for desktop printers than commercial equipment, once you calculate the cost of toner, paper and other supplies, I am quite sure your cost per book will be higher than using a print on demand service.
You may want to look into this company for your book production, then you can concentrate on publishing instead of trying to be a printer without the proper equipment.
 
Cost per page is significantly higher for desktop printers than commercial equipment, once you calculate the cost of toner, paper and other supplies, I am quite sure your cost per book will be higher than using a print on demand service.
You may want to look into this company for your book production, then you can concentrate on publishing instead of trying to be a printer without the proper equipment.
At the moment my cost per book is about half of what I would pay using the most popular print on demand services (IngramSpark, Lulu, Kindle, local printer).
 
Yes, I'm trying to produce perfect bound books. Here's my process:

1. I print A5 size text on A4 long grain copy paper (as this is the easiest and cheapest to get for me).

3. I print the covers on A3, 300gsm HP Pro-Design card using the inkjet printer, and laminate the essential part with nylon laminate (hot roll laminator) I source from the US. I use nylon laminate to avoid curling of one sided lamination.

5. Then I trim the A4 books down to A5.
Just looking at these 3 points, since you're printing onto A4 substrate and step "5" is simply cutting the A4 2-up in half, your finished book hasn't got a cleanly finished knife trim to three sides. As you also have a laminated card cover in the mix, I imagine this lack of final trim to give an even block is quite apparent. You'll also find this trim can reduce the "wavy" effect - we often print and laminate stacks of SRA3 300GSM posters, when looking at them on the bench the next morning there's often a little waviness there, however after chopping them down to A3, it's as good as gone.
On a production machine, you would be printing A5 4-up onto SRA3, centered at 80/112.5mm, 240/112.5mm, 80/337.5mm, 240/337.5mm to give you the full bleed and final trim capabilities.
 
Yes, I'm trying to produce perfect bound books. Here's my process:

1. I print A5 size text on A4 long grain copy paper (as this is the easiest and cheapest to get for me).

2. I then bind this with a Powis Parker 15 tape binder. I thought the bind quality and strength is quite good.

3. I print the covers on A3, 300gsm HP Pro-Design card using the inkjet printer, and laminate the essential part with nylon laminate (hot roll laminator) I source from the US. I use nylon laminate to avoid curling of one sided lamination.

4. I then manually apply glue (PermaTack) on the taped spine and glue the covers on.

5. Then I trim the A4 books down to A5.

So far I've only sold books that were printed on the inkjet printer. I've never sold any laser printed books because I think the standard (waves) is not acceptable.

I know this is a primitive way to print books, but beggars can't be choosers and at least I'm learning and hopefully will be able to start climbing up the ladder soon.
@Tradidi - I applaud your entrepreneurship and you wanting to put out the best product you can. I also understand very well the challenges of starting small. At one time my company couldn’t afford a DocuTech so we ran a fleet of HP 5000 laser printers for book printing. Those prints were probably wavy, but I do not remember any customer complaints. Take the responses here as our attempt to help you put out the best book possible. With growth the opportunity to upgrade equipment will happen.
 

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