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HP Designjet 500, 510 and 800 Printer Series - Print quality problems

Print quality problems

Your printer provides a full troubleshooting utility to ensure you can always quickly overcome any image problems you encounter. You should use this utility whenever you (and not the printer) perceive a problem with print quality.
Often what you believe to be a print quality problem is in fact caused by incorrect configuration of the printer for the type of image you are trying to print. Always check Configuration correction as your first diagnostic task to find the cause of your problem.
If a message, such as "PRINTHEADS not functional" appears on the front panel of your printer, follow the instructions given for the particular message.
The types of problems you could possibly encounter are:
  • Stepped lines
  • Incomplete lines
  • Color accuracy
  • Horizontal banding
  • Color alignment
Whenever you see any of these problems, work through the Troubleshooting procedure replying to the questions displayed on the front panel. This will lead you to correct remedial action required to solve your print quality problem.

Configuration correction

Before attempting the print quality diagnostic procedures contained in this section, you should first check that the printer is correctly configured to print what you want. Many problems concerned with print quality can be solved by correcting the way the printer is configured.
  1. To achieve the best performance from your printer, only use genuine HP accessories and supplies, whose reliability and performance have been thoroughly tested to give trouble-free performance and best-quality prints.
  2. Make sure that the Type of paper selected in the front panel is the same type of paper loaded into the printer. To check this go to the Roll or Sheet menu in the front panel and press Enter.
  3. To ensure the maximum print quality use HP certified paper only. Check the following web page for more information.
  4. Make sure that the Print quality (Fast, Normal, Best) used for your printer is correct. This is set in the Print Setup dialog box of the printer driver or in the front panel from the Set-up menu. The printer driver setting overrides the front panel setting.
  5. Select Best print mode for maximum print quality.
  6. For Non-HP drivers, set front panel paper settings to match the paper type loaded in the printer. The documentation that came with your software should provide information about paper type/print quality settings.
  7. If your print quality problem is color accuracy related, go to Color accuracy for further configuration help.

Common print quality problems

Stepped lines

When you look at the image you have printed there are 'stepped lines' in the borders of arrows and diagonal lines. The lines should be straight with no stepping.
The following is an example of what you might see if you have problems with stepped lines.
To solve this problem:
  1. Increase the dpi setting by changing the print quality to Best in the front panel and driver software.
  2. The problems may be inherent in the image you are trying to print. Try to improve the image with the application that generated the file.

Incomplete lines

When you look at the image you have printed there are:
  • Missing or faint lines.
  • Printed characters with missing parts.
The following is an example of what you might see if you have problems with incomplete lines.
See the Troubleshooting procedure for instructions on how to solve this problem.

Color alignment

When you look at the image you have printed:
The colored lines are printed double and they are the wrong colors.
Vertical lines are misaligned or fuzzy (not smooth).
The borders of colored blocks are overlapped and the overlapping areas have different colors in them.
See the Troubleshooting procedure for instructions on how to solve this problem.

Horizontal banding

When you look at the image you have printed there are light or dark lines on the image, these are particularly highlighted in high density ink areas. This problem is known as banding.
Banding can occur to a certain degree in Fast and Normal mode when printing high density prints. To obtain the best image always print in Best Mode.
The following is an example of what you might see if you have problems with banding.
See the Troubleshooting procedure for instructions on how to solve this problem.

Color accuracy

These are the areas you should review when troubleshooting a color accuracy problem:
  • Paper
  • Color consistency problems
  • Long-term color bleeding (glossy paper)
  • Color accuracy configuration
  • Additional color accuracy information
Ensure that the paper loaded is genuine HP paper and that the correct paper type is selected on the front panel and in the driver.
Color consistency problems
  • Some paper may discolor or change with age. Check that your paper is fresh and has been stored correctly.
  • If the environmental conditions you are printing in change rapidly, you may see changes in the color consistency. By reducing the time the print stays in extreme environmental conditions after being printed (especially very high humidity) you can reduce the color consistency problems.
  • There may be color changes between images printed on your printer and other types of HP Designjet printers. This is quite normal because the other printers use different inks.
Long-term color bleeding (glossy paper)
High ambient humidity at your location could cause the colors to bleed into the paper making the lines fuzzy and bleary.
  • Change the paper that you are printing with or remove the printer from the high humidity conditions.
Color accuracy configuration
The configurations of the printer defines how ink is applied to each type of paper. Use the information in the following table to configure your printer and software for best color accuracy.
Location of setting
Setting description
Ink menu
Color Calibration > Calibrate Paper
Set to match the paper type loaded in the printer.
Additional color accuracy information
The means of accurately managing the colors printed by your printer vary with the software application and driver being used. Refer to the following documentation:
  • On-line documentation in the drivers shipped with your printer.
  • If you cannot find any reason for the discrepancy, before getting help, find out for which CMYK printer inks the colors have been specified.

Troubleshooting procedure

Working through the Troubleshooting procedure should always be your first action when you encounter print quality problems. Refer to the Troubleshooting flowchart for a description of the sequence of processes used to complete troubleshooting procedure.
It is important that the paper loaded for this procedure is exactly that used when you encountered print quality problems, type (for example, glossy paper) and size. If you use a different kind of paper or a different size, you stand less likelihood of resolving the problem.

Running the Troubleshooting Utility

  1. From the main front-panel menu, select the Ink menu ( ) and press Enter.
  2. Select Troubleshooting and press Enter.
  3. The printer first checks to see whether the printheads are aligned. Misalignment of the printheads is a common cause of print quality problems. If they are not aligned, you are prompted to accept Printhead alignment. This procedure requires a few centimeters of paper loaded and takes several minutes to perform.
    Note that you do not have to interpret the patterns printed by the Printhead Alignment routine.
  4. If the printheads do not seem to require alignment, the printer prints Diagnostic Print A. See Diagnostic Print A interpretation for full details of how to use this diagnostic print.

Diagnostic Print A interpretation

Diagnostic Print A contains several blocks of color and a block of thin black broken lines (the lines are actually very much closer than those represented here).
  1. Examine the broken lines in Diagnostic Print A carefully and indicate whether there are problems with them. The sorts of problems to look for here are:
    • Jaggedness or serrations in the thin lines, like this: ; the thin lines should be straight, though not necessarily perfectly aligned. The irregularities that are significant extend along the whole of the length of the lines. Shorter irregularities, arranged in columns, can be ignored at this stage.
  2. Examine the blocks of color in Diagnostic Print A carefully and indicate whether there are problems with them. The sorts of problems to look for here are:
    • White streaks or bands in the solid blocks.
  3. If you indicate that there is a problem with the dashed lines in Diagnostic Print A, you are prompted to use the Advance calibration routine; your printer will be at step 3 of the routine (if you don’t want to continue with calibration, press the Cancel key).
  4. If there are problems in the blocks of color in Diagnostic Print A, for example white streaks or bands, the printer will try to clean the printheads that have the problem. A printhead can be cleaned up to three times this way; after that it cannot be cleaned and you will be told; the Troubleshooting routine will finish. In that case we recommend that you try to reprint your print, and then, if necessary, start the Troubleshooting routine again. After cleaning the printheads, the printer reprints the blocks of color (but not the black lines) in Diagnostic Print A, and asks you to examine it again (as in step 1).
  5. If there are no problems the first time you print Diagnostic Print A, the printer prints Diagnostic Print B. See Diagnostic Print B interpretation for full details of how to use this diagnostic print.

Diagnostic Print B interpretation

  1. For each color in the pattern in Diagnostic Print B, you are asked about the quality - look for missing lines. If you answer that a color is defective, the printer tries to clean that printhead. If the printhead cleaning process completes, Diagnostic Print B is printed again and you are asked the same questions again.
  2. Afterwards, if problems with images remain, use the Troubleshooting procedure again.
If none of the patterns or blocks in the two Diagnostic Prints shows any problem, it could be that your print quality problem is caused by a wrong setting in your software, or perhaps the job should have been printed with the Print quality set to Best instead of Normal or Draft.
If the Troubleshooting routine didn’t indicate that printhead alignment was necessary, you can select Align printheads in the Ink menu to try to solve any further print quality problems.

Troubleshooting flowchart

The following diagram shows the flow of the troubleshooting procedure.

Advance calibration

It is important that the paper loaded for this calibration is exactly that used for normal printing, both in quality (for example, glossy paper) and in width (for example, A0 or 36 in). Either roll or sheet paper can be used. The routine prints a pattern and then cuts the roll (the cutter must be set to On) or ejects the sheet; it requires paper that is at least 65 cm/25.5 in long and at least 50 cm/19.7 in wide. You must then reload that piece of paper as a sheet, so that the printer can accurately measure the pattern, and make whatever adjustments are appropriate to the amount it advances between printing swaths of data.
The pattern printed is solely for the use of the printer; you are not expected to relate any of its characteristics to the quality of your images.
  1. From the main front-panel menu, with the correct paper loaded, select the Paper menu ( ) and press Enter.
  2. Select Advance calibration and press Enter.
  3. Select Create pattern and press Enter. The printer prints its calibration pattern (as represented here) and cuts or ejects the paper.
  4. Load the sheet printed side up with the dotted line at the top (that is, rotated 90º).
  5. Now select Measure pattern and press Enter. The printer reads the calibration pattern and makes the appropriate internal adjustments.
These Advance calibration values are used whenever you print on the same type of paper until you have used the Advance calibration twice more with different types of paper.

Advance calibration values

The printer stores the advance calibration values of the last two different types of paper used for the calibration. When you print, the printer tries to match the paper you have selected to the stored values. If there is a match the printer applies the stored Advance calibration values.
If the type of paper you are using has not been used for either of the last two Advance calibrations, the printer uses a set of default values for your paper.
The Restore factory option of the Advance calibration menu erases any stored advance calibration values from the printer memory. This means that until you run the advance calibration again the printer will use the factory default values for all types of paper.






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