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HP Designjet Z2100 Photo Printer Series - Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide

Introduction

When there is any print-quality problem:
  • To achieve the best performance from the printer, use only genuine manufacturer's supplies and accessories, whose reliability and performance have been thoroughly tested to give trouble-free performance and best-quality prints.
  • Make sure that the paper type selected in the front panel is the same as the paper type loaded into the printer. To check this, use the View loaded paper key on the front panel. At the same time, check that the paper type has been calibrated. Also make sure that the paper type selected in the software is the same as the paper type loaded into the printer.
      caution:
    If the wrong paper type is selected, poor print quality and incorrect colors, and perhaps even damage to the printheads could be experienced.
  • Check that the most appropriate print-quality settings for the purposes are being using. A lower print quality may be experienced if the print-quality slider is moved to the 'Speed' end of the scale, or set the custom quality level to Fast.
  • Check that the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) are in the recommended range.
  • Check that the ink cartridges and printheads have not passed their expiration dates.

Horizontal lines across the image (banding)

If the printed image suffers from added horizontal lines as shown in the image below (the color may vary):
Figure : Image banding
  1. Check that the paper type that is loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in the software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Check that the appropriate print-quality settings are being used for the purposes. In some cases, a print-quality problem can be resolved merely by selecting a higher print-quality level. For instance, if the Print Quality slider is set to Speed, try setting it to Quality; if it is already set to Quality, try selecting Custom Options and then More Passes. If the print-quality settings are changed and the problem has been resolved, the print job may be reprinted.
  3. Print the Image Diagnostics Print.
  4. If the printheads are working correctly, go to the front panel and press the View loaded paper key to see the paper advance calibration status. If the status is Pending, perform paper advance calibration.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact an HP customer service representative for further support.

Lines are too thick, too thin, or missing

Figure : Thin and missing lines
  1. Check that the paper type that is loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in the software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Check that the appropriate print-quality settings are being used for the purposes. Select the custom print-quality options in the Print dialog box, and try to turn On the Maximum detail option. The print jobs can be reprinted, in case the problem has been solved.
  3. If the resolution of the image is greater than the printing resolution, a loss of line quality may be noticed. The Max. Application Resolution option can be found in the Microsoft Windows driver dialog box's Advanced tab, under Document Options, Printer Features. If this option is changed, the print job may be reprinted at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  4. If lines are too thin or missing, print the Image Diagnostics Print.
  5. If the problem remains, go to the front panel and select the Ink menu icon , then Printhead information to see the printhead alignment status. If the status is Pending, align the printheads. After alignment, the print job can be reprinted in case the problem has been solved.
  6. Go to the front panel and press the View loaded paper key to see the paper advance calibration status. If the status is Pending, perform paper advance calibration.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact the customer service representative for further support.

Lines appear stepped or jagged

If lines in the image appear stepped or jagged when printed:
Figure : Stepped line
  1. The problem may be inherent in the image. Try to improve the image with the application that is used to edit it.
  2. Check that the appropriate print-quality settings are being used.
  3. Select the custom print-quality options in the Print dialog box, and turn On the Maximum detail option.
  4. Change the image rendering resolution to 300 dpi or 600 dpi depending on the printing needs. The Max. Application Resolution option can be found in the Microsoft Windows driver dialog box's Advanced tab, under Document Options, Printer Features.

Lines print double or in the wrong colors

This problem can have various visible symptoms:
  • Colored lines are printed double, in different colors.
    Figure : Colored lines printed double
  • The borders of colored blocks are wrongly colored.
    Figure : Colored blocks wrongly colored
To correct this kind of problem:
  1. Reseat the printheads by removing and then reinserting them.
  2. Align the printheads.

Lines are discontinuous

If the lines are broken in the following way:
Figure : Vertical lines wavy or blurred
  1. Check that the appropriate print-quality settings are being used.
  2. Reseat the printheads by removing and then reinserting them.
  3. Align the printheads.

Lines are blurred

Figure : Blurred lines
Humidity can cause ink to soak into the paper, making the lines blurred and fuzzy. Try the following:
  1. Check that the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) are suitable for high-quality printing. See Environmental specifications.
  2. Check that the paper type selected in the front panel is the same as the paper type that is being used. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  3. Try changing to a heavier paper type, such as HP Heavyweight Coated Paper, HP SuperHeavyweight Coated Paper or Digital Fine Art paper.
  4. If using glossy paper, try changing to a different type of glossy paper.
  5. Select the custom print-quality options in the Print dialog box, and turn On the More passes option.
  6. Align the printheads.

The whole image is blurry or grainy

Figure : Graininess
  1. Check that the paper type that is loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in the software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Check that it is printing on the correct side of the paper.
  3. Check that the appropriate print-quality settings are being used. In some cases, a print-quality problem can be solved merely by selecting a higher print-quality level. For instance, if the Print Quality slider is set to Speed, try setting it to Quality; if it is already set to Quality, try selecting Custom Options and then More Passes. If the print-quality settings are changed, the print jobs can be reprinted at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  4. Go to the front panel and select the Ink menu icon , then Printhead information to see the printhead alignment status. If the status is Pending, align the printheads. After alignment, the print job can be reprinted in case the problem has been solved.
  5. Go to the front panel and press the View loaded paper key to see the paper advance calibration status. If the status is Pending, perform paper advance calibration.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact an HP customer service representative for further support.

The paper is not flat

If the paper does not lie flat when it comes out of the printer, but has shallow waves in it, the defects may be seen in the printed image, such as vertical stripes. This can happen when thin paper is used that becomes saturated with ink.
Figure : Waves in the paper
  1. Check that the paper type is loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in the software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Try changing to a thicker paper type, such as HP Heavyweight Coated Paper, HP SuperHeavyweight Coated Paper or thicker Digital Fine Art papers.

The print is scuffed or scratched

The black ink pigment can be scuffed or scratched when touched by a finger, a pen, or some other object. This is particularly noticeable on coated paper, matte proofing paper and fine art material.
Glossy paper may be extremely sensitive to the basket or to anything else that it contacts soon after printing, depending on the amount of ink used and the environmental conditions at the time of printing.
To reduce the risk of scuffs and scratches:
  • Handle prints carefully.
  • Avoid stacking prints on top of each other.
  • Disable the automatic cutter before printing, so that the print will not fall into the basket. Alternatively, leave a sheet of paper in the basket so that freshly printed sheets do not make direct contact with the basket.

Ink marks on the paper

This problem can occur for several different reasons.

Horizontal smears on the front of coated paper

If a lot of ink is used on plain or coated paper, the paper absorbs the ink quickly and expands. As the printheads move over the paper, the printheads may come into contact with the paper and smear the printed image. This problem is normally seen only on cut sheets of paper (not on roll paper).
Figure : Smears
Whenever this problem is noticed, cancel the printing job immediately. Press the Cancel button and also cancel the job from the computer application. Soaked paper can damage the printheads.
Try the following suggestions to avoid this problem:
  1. Check that the paper type is loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in the software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Use a recommended paper type, and the correct print settings.
  3. If using sheet paper, try rotating the sheet 90o degrees. The orientation of the paper fibers may affect performance.
  4. Try changing to a thicker paper type, such as HP Heavyweight Coated Paper, HP Super Heavyweight Coated Paper, or thicker Digital Fine Art papers.
  5. Try to increase the margins by relocating the image to the center of the page using the software application.

Ink marks on the back of the paper

This can happen after a lot of border less printing, especially with non-standard paper sizes. Ink residues on the platen are likely to mark the back of the paper.
Clean the platen with a soft cloth. Clean each rib separately without touching the foam between the ribs.

Edges of objects are stepped or not sharp

Figure : Unsharp edges
If edges of objects or lines appear to be poorly defined or lighter in density, and the print-quality slider is already set to Quality in the Print dialog box, select the custom print-quality options, and try setting the quality level to Normal.

Edges of objects are darker than expected

Figure : Dark edges
If edges of objects seem darker than expected, and the print-quality slider is already set to Quality in the Print dialog box, select the custom print-quality options, and try setting the quality level to Normal.

Bronzing

If printing on photo paper with gray and black ink only, and experiencing a gloss differential problem when fluorescent light is directly reflected from the print, producing bronzed reflections from the ink, try one of the following:
  • Use the Full set of inks option.
  • Display the print vertically or behind glass.

Black and white prints do not look neutral

Consider using the Gray and Black inks only option.

Horizontal lines at the end of a cut sheet print

This type of defect affects only the end of a print, within approximately 30 mm of the trailing edge of the paper. Some very thin horizontal lines across the print may be seen.
To avoid this problem:
  1. Print the Image Diagnostics Print.
  2. Consider printing with roll paper.
  3. Consider using larger margins around the image.

Vertical lines of different colors

If the print has vertical bands of different colors along it:
  1. Try using thicker paper, choosing from the recommended paper types such as HP Heavyweight Coated Paper and HP Super Heavyweight Paper.
  2. Try using higher print-quality settings. For instance, if the Print Quality slider is set to Speed, try setting it to Quality; if it is already set to Quality, try selecting Custom Options and then More Passes.

White spots on the print

White spots on the print may be noticed on the print jobs due to paper fibers, dust, or loose coating material. To avoid this problem:
  1. Try cleaning the paper manually with a brush before printing, to remove any loose fibers or particles.
  2. Always keep the cover of the printer closed.
  3. Protect the paper rolls and sheets by storing them in bags or boxes.

Colors are inaccurate

Figure : Inaccurate colors
If the colors of the print do not match the expectations, try the following:
  1. Check that the paper type that is loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in the software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key. At the same time, check the color calibration status. If the status is Recommended or Obsolete, perform a color calibration. If any changes have been made, the print jobs may be reprinted in case the problem has been solved.
  2. Check that the correct side of the paper is used for printing.
  3. Check that the appropriate print-quality settings are in use. If the Speed or Fast option is selected, most accurate colors may not be printed. If the print-quality settings are changed, the jobs may be reprinted at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  4. If Application Color Management is in use, check that the color profile that is being used, corresponds to the selected paper type and print-quality settings. If there are any doubts about which color settings to use, create a color profile.
  5. If the problem consists of color differences between the print and the monitor, please follow the instructions in the 'How to calibrate the monitor' section of the HP Color Center. At this point, the job may be reprinted in case the problem has been solved.
  6. Print the Image Diagnostics Print.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact an HP customer service representative for further support.

Color accuracy using EPS or PDF images in page layout applications

Page layout applications such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress do not support color management of EPS, PDF or grayscale files.
If such files needs to be used, try to ensure that the EPS, PDF, or grayscale images are already in the same color space that is intended to use later on in Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress. For instance, if the final goal is to print the job in a press that follows the SWOP standard, convert the image into SWOP when creating it.

The image is incomplete (clipped at the bottom)

  • Was the Cancel button pressed before all the data were received by the printer? If so, the data transmission has been ended and will have to print the page again.
  • The I/O timeout setting may be too short. This setting determines how long the printer waits for the computer to send more data, before deciding that the job is finished. From the front panel, increase the I/O timeout setting to a longer period and then send the print again. From the Connectivity menu , select Advanced, Select I/O timeout.
  • There may be a communications problem between the computer and the printer. Check the USB or network cable.
  • Check to make sure that the software settings are correct for the current page size (for example, long-axis prints).
  • If using network software, make sure it has not timed out.

The image is clipped

Clipping normally indicates a discrepancy between the actual printable area on the loaded paper and the printable area as understood by the software. This kind of problem can be often identified before printing by previewing the print.
  • Check the actual printable area for the paper size that is loaded.
    Printable area = paper size - margins
  • Check what the software understands to be the printable area (which it may call 'printing area' or 'imagable area'). For example, some software applications assume standard printable areas that are larger than those used in this printer.
  • If a custom page size is defined with very narrow margins, the printer may impose it's own minimal margins, clipping the image slightly. In this case consider using a larger paper size, or border less printing.
  • If the image contains it's own margins, it may be possible to print it successfully by using the Clip Contents by Margins option.
  • If trying to print a very long image on a roll, check that the software is capable of printing an image of that size.
  • The user may have asked to rotate the page from portrait to landscape on a paper size that is not wide enough.
  • If necessary, reduce the size of the image or document in the software application, so it fits between the margins.
There is another possible explanation for a clipped image. Some applications, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Core lDRAW, use an internal 16-bit co-ordinate system which means that they cannot handle an image of more than 32,768 pixels. If trying to print an image larger than this from these applications, the bottom of the image will be clipped. In this case, the only way to print the whole image is to reduce the resolution so that the whole image requires fewer than 32,768 pixels. The Microsoft Windows driver dialog box includes an option called 16-bit App. Compatibility, which can be used to reduce the resolution of such images automatically. This option can be found in the Advanced tab, under Document Options, Printer Features.

Some objects are missing from the printed image

Large quantities of data may be necessary to print a high-quality large-format print job, and in some specific work flows there may be issues that can lead to some objects missing from the output. Here are some recommendations for the use of the Microsoft Windows driver dialog box in these cases.
  • In the Advanced tab, select Document options, Printer features, and set Send job as bitmap to Enabled (HP-GL/2 driver only).
  • In the Advanced tab, select Document options, Printer features, and set 16-bit App. Compatibility to Enabled.
  • In the Advanced tab, select Document options, Printer features, and set Max. Application resolution to 300.
The above settings are mentioned for troubleshooting purposes and may adversely affect the final output quality or the time necessary to generate the print job. Therefore, they should be restored to their default values if they do not help to solve the problem.
If working under Mac OS, the above settings are not available. Instead, try reducing the resolution of bitmap images in the application software.

A PDF file is clipped or objects are missing

In older versions of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, large PDF files could be clipped or lose some objects when printing with the HP-GL/2 driver at high resolution. In order to avoid such problems, upgrade the Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader software to the latest version. From version 7 onwards, these problems should be solved.

The Image Diagnostics Print

The Image Diagnostics Print consists of patterns designed to highlight printhead reliability problems. It helps to check the performance of the printheads that are currently installed in the printer, and whether any printhead suffers from clogging or other problems.
To print the Image Diagnostics Print:
  1. Use the same paper type that was in use when the problem was detected.
  2. Use the View loaded paper key on the front panel to check that the selected paper type is the same as the paper type loaded into the printer.
  3. At the printer's front panel, select the Image Quality Maintenance menu icon , then Print diagnostic image.
It takes about two minutes to print the Image Diagnostics Print.
The print is divided into two parts, both of which test printhead performance.
  • Part 1 (top) consists of rectangles of pure colors, one for each printhead. This part represents the print quality that will get from each color.
  • Part 2 (bottom) consists of small dashes, one for each nozzle on each printhead. This part complements the first, and aims more specifically to detect how many faulty nozzles each printhead has.
Please look carefully at the print. The names of the colors are shown above the rectangles and in the center of the patterns of dashes.
Figure : Image Diagnostics Print
First look at the upper part of the print (part 1). Each colored rectangle should be a uniform color without any horizontal bands across it.
Then look at the bottom part of the print (part 2). For each individual colored pattern, check that most of the dashes are present.
If a lot of lines are seen in part 1 and also missing dashes in part 2 for the same color, the printhead responsible needs cleaning. However, if the rectangles look solid, do not worry about just a few missing dashes in part 2. These are acceptable because the printer can compensate for a few clogged nozzles.
Here is an example of a light gray printhead in a good state:
Figure : Light grey printhead sample (good)
And here is an example of the same printhead in a bad state:
Figure : Light grey printhead sample (bad)

Corrective action

  1. Clean any faulty printheads. Then reprint the Image Diagnostics Print to see whether the problem has been solved.
  2. If the problem remains, clean the printheads again, and reprint the Image Diagnostics Print to see whether the problem has been solved.
  3. If the problem remains, consider cleaning the printheads manually. Reprinting the current print job to see whether the problem has been solved.
  4. If the problem still remains, replace any persistently faulty printheads, or contact HP Support.
    Click here for information on contacting HP support at http://welcome.hp.com/country/us/en/support.html.

If the issue still persists

If experiencing the print-quality problems still after applying the advice in this chapter, here are some further things that can be done:
  • Try using a higher print-quality option.
  • Check the driver that is used to print. If it is a non-HP driver, consult the driver vendor about the problem. Also try using the correct HP driver, if feasible. Click here to download the latest HP drivers from http://www.hp.com/go/designjet/.
  • If using a non-HP RIP, it's settings may be incorrect. See the documentation that came with the RIP.
  • Check that the printer's firmware is up to date.
  • Check that the right settings are used in the software application.

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