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HP Designjet Z3200PS Printer Series - Troubleshooting print-quality issues

General advice

When you have any print-quality problem:
  • To achieve the best performance from your 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. For details of recommended papers, see Order paper.
  • 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 your software is the same as the paper type loaded into the printer.
      caution:
    If you have the wrong paper type selected, you could experience poor print quality and incorrect colors, and perhaps even damage to the printheads.
  • Check that you are using the most appropriate print-quality settings for your purposes (see Printing). You are likely to see lower print quality if you have moved the print-quality slider to the 'Speed' end of the scale, or set the custom quality level to Fast.
  • Check that your environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) are in the recommended range. See Environmental specifications.
  • Check that your ink cartridges and printheads have not passed their expiration dates: see Maintain the ink cartridges.
  • Avoid touching the paper while printing is in progress.

Print quality troubleshooting wizard

The Print Quality Troubleshooting Wizard can help with the following problems:
  • Horizontal lines across the image (banding)
  • The whole image is blurry or grainy
  • Lines are too thick, too thin or missing
  • Colors are inaccurate
To start the wizard:
  • From the HP Printer Utility for Windows: go to the Support tab, and select Print quality troubleshooting.
  • From the HP Printer Utility for Mac OS: select Print quality troubleshooting in the Support group.
  • From the Mac OS Print dialog: go to the Services panel, select Device Maintenance, then select Print quality troubleshooting from the list of maintenance tasks.
  • From the Embedded Web Server: go to the Support tab, select Troubleshooting, then select Print quality troubleshooting.
Alternatively, or if you have other print quality problems, you can continue reading this chapter.

Horizontal lines across the image (banding)

If your printed image suffers from added horizontal lines as shown (the color may vary):
Figure : Banding
  1. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Check that you are using appropriate print-quality settings for your purposes (see Printing). In some cases, you can overcome a print-quality problem merely by selecting a higher print-quality level. For instance, if you have set the Print Quality slider to Speed, try setting it to Quality; if you have already set it to Quality, try selecting custom options and then More Passes. If you change the print-quality settings, you may wish to reprint your job at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  3. Print the Image Diagnostics Print. See The Image Diagnostics Printimage 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 RECOMMENDED, you should perform paper advance calibration: see Recalibrate the paper advance.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact your customer service representative for further support.

The whole image is blurry or grainy

Figure : Graininess
  1. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Check that you are printing on the correct side of the paper.
  3. Check that you are using appropriate print-quality settings (see Printing). In some cases, you can overcome a print-quality problem merely by selecting a higher print-quality level. For instance, if you have set the Print Quality slider to Speed, try setting it to Quality; if you have already set it to Quality, try selecting custom options and then More Passes. If you change the print-quality settings, you may wish to reprint your job at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  4. If you are using gloss enhancer, you can reduce grain by turning off or reducing the amount of gloss enhancer; see If you are printing on photo paper. This can reduce the gloss quality of the image; if you notice any problem, see Bronzingprint-quality problemsbronzing.
  5. Try aligning the printheads. See Align the printheads. After alignment, you may wish to reprint your job 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 RECOMMENDED, you should perform paper advance calibration: see Recalibrate the paper advance.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact your 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, you are likely to see defects in the printed image, such as vertical stripes. This can happen when you use thin paper that becomes saturated with ink.
Figure : Waves in the paper
  1. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your 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 Super Heavyweight Plus Matte Paper or thicker Digital Fine Art papers.
  3. Select a paper type that is slightly thinner than the paper you have loaded; this will persuade the printer to use less ink. Here are some example paper types in ascending order of thickness: Plain Paper, Coated Paper, Heavyweight Coated Paper, Fine Art Paper, Super Heavyweight Plus Matte Paper, Thick Fine Art Paper (>250 g/m²).

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. See Turn the automatic cutter on and off. 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 you notice this problem, cancel the printing job immediately. Press the Cancel key and also cancel the job from your computer application. Soaked paper can damage the printheads.
Try the following suggestions to avoid this problem:
  1. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Use a recommended paper type (see Order paper) and the correct print settings.
  3. If using sheet paper, try rotating the sheet 90 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 Plus Matte Paper or thicker Digital Fine Art papers.
  5. Select a paper type that is slightly thinner than the paper you have loaded; this will persuade the printer to use less ink. Here are some example paper types in ascending order of thickness: Plain Paper, Coated Paper, Heavyweight Coated Paper, Fine Art Paper, Super Heavyweight Plus Matte Paper, Thick Fine Art Paper (>250 g/m²).
  6. Try to increase the margins by relocating the image to the center of the page using your software application.
  7. If you are using a glossy or satin paper type, try changing the definition of the thickness of the paper. In the HP Printer Utility, go to the Color Center > Paper preset management > Change printing properties. For custom papers that have been created with glossy or satin papers as a base, it is possible to change the Paper thickness to Thick.

Ink marks on the back of the paper

This can happen after a lot of borderless 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.

Vertical dotted or dashed lines on the print

The starwheels that assist in moving the paper may in some cases leave small, regularly spaced marks on the print.
First check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  • Using the HP Printer Utility for Windows, select Color Center > Paper Preset Management > Change Printing Properties.
  • Using the HP Printer Utility for Mac OS, select HP Color Center > Paper Preset Management. Select the paper type, then press the button and select Change Printing Properties from the popup menu.
Change the starwheels position from Down to Up. If the starwheels position was already Up, as it normally is by default for glossy papers, try using a different paper type.
note:
We recommend keeping the starwheels in the Down position by default for all non-glossy paper types, for better print quality and paper control; change to the Up position only if this problem occurs.

Vertical continuous lines on the print

When loading a thick single sheet using the rear tray, the plastic rollers may in some cases leave regular thick stripes on the print.
To avoid this, try loading this kind of sheet using the roll load path instead of the rear tray. You can align the sheet with the help of the black hub of the spindle. Remember to specify that you are loading a single sheet even if you are using the roll load path.

Black ink comes off when you touch the print

This problem may be caused by printing with matte black ink on glossy paper. The printer will not use matte black ink if it knows that the paper will not retain it. To be sure of avoiding matte black ink, you can select Photo Glossy Paper as the paper type (in the Photo Paper category).

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 you have already set the print-quality slider to Quality in the driver dialog (Mac OS Print dialog), select the custom print-quality options, and make sure that the More Passes and Maximum Detail options are turned off. See Printing.

Edges of objects are darker than expected

Figure : Dark edges
If edges of objects seem darker than expected, and you have already set the print-quality slider to Quality in the driver dialog (Mac OS Print dialog), select the custom print-quality options, and make sure that the More Passes and Maximum Detail options are turned off. See Printing.

Bronzing

If you are printing on photo paper in grayscale, and you experience a gloss differential problem when fluorescent light is directly reflected towards you from the print, producing 'bronzed' reflections from the ink, try one of the following:
  • If using standard print quality options, ensure that the slider is set to Quality (see Select print quality).
  • If using custom print quality options, ensure that the Gloss enhancer option is set to Whole page (see If you are printing on photo paper).
  • Increase the amount of gloss enhancer used (see If you are printing on photo paper)
  • Display the print vertically or behind glass.

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. You may see some very thin horizontal lines across the print.
To avoid this problem:
  1. Print the Image Diagnostics Print. See The Image Diagnostics Printimage diagnostics print.
  2. Consider printing with roll paper.
  3. Consider using larger margins around your image.

Vertical lines of different colors

If your 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. See Order paper.
  2. Try using higher print-quality settings (see Printing). For instance, if you have set the Print Quality slider to Speed, try setting it to Quality; if you have already set it to Quality, try selecting custom options and then More Passes.

White spots on the print

You may notice white spots on the print. This is probably 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 your printer closed.
  3. Protect your paper rolls and sheets by storing them in bags or boxes.

Colors are inaccurate

Figure : Inaccurate colors
If the colors of your print do not match your expectations, try the following:
  1. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your 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 PENDING or OBSOLETE, you should perform color calibration: see Color calibration. If you have made any changes, you may wish to reprint your job in case the problem has been solved.
  2. Check that you are printing on the correct side of the paper.
  3. Check that you are using appropriate print-quality settings (see Printing). If you have selected the Speed or Fast options, you may not get the most accurate colors. If you change the print-quality settings, you may wish to reprint your job at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  4. If you are using application-managed colors, check that the color profile you are using corresponds to the selected paper type. If you have doubts about which color settings to use, see Color management. If you need to create a color profile, see Color profiling.
  5. If you select application-managed colors in your application and printer-managed colors in the printer driver, your results will be wrong. You should manage colors in the application or in the printer, but not in both.
  6. If the problem consists of color differences between your print and your monitor, please follow the instructions in the “How to calibrate your monitor” section of the HP Color Center. At this point, you may wish to reprint your job in case the problem has been solved.
  7. Print the Image Diagnostics Print. See The Image Diagnostics Printimage diagnostics print.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact your 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 QuarkXPress do not support color management of EPS, PDF or grayscale files.
If you have to use such files, try to ensure that the EPS, PDF or grayscale images are already in the same color space that you intend to use later on in Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. For instance, if your final goal is to print the job in a press that follows the SWOP standard, convert the image into SWOP when you create it.

The image is incomplete (clipped at the bottom)

  • Did you press Cancel before all the data were received by the printer? If so, you have ended the data transmission 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 your computer and the printer. Check your USB or network cable.
  • Check to make sure that your software settings are correct for your current page size (for example, long-axis prints).
  • If you are 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 your software. You can often identify this kind of problem before printing by previewing your print (see Preview a print).
  • Check the actual printable area for the paper size you have loaded.
    printable area = paper size – margins
  • Check what your software understands to be the printable area (which it may call "printing area" or "imageable area"). For example, some software applications assume standard printable areas that are larger than those used in this printer.
  • If you have defined a custom page size with very narrow margins, the printer may impose its own minimal margins, clipping your image slightly. You may want to consider using a larger paper size, or borderless printing (see Select margins options).
  • If your image contains its own margins, you may be able to print it successfully by using the Clip Contents by Margins option (see Select margins options).
  • If you are trying to print a very long image on a roll, check that your software is capable of printing an image of that size.
  • You 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 your 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 CorelDRAW, use an internal 16-bit coordinate system which means that they cannot handle an image of more than 32,768 pixels.
note:
An image 32,768 pixels long would print at a length of 54.61 in or 1.39 m if you select Best or Quality in the driver, 109.23 in or 2.78 m if you select Fast, Normal or Speed in the driver.
If you try to print an image larger than this from these applications, the bottom of the image may be clipped. To print the whole image, try these suggestions:
  • Try using the PostScript printer driver to print your job, if you have not already tried it.
  • The Windows PCL3 driver dialog includes an option called Max. application resolution, which enables you to print successfully in this situation. You will not normally need to change the default setting, which is Auto. However, you can find the option in the Advanced tab, under Document Options > Printer Features.
  • Save the file in another format, such as TIFF or EPS, and open it with another application.
  • Use a RIP to print the file.

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 workflows there may be issues that can lead to some objects missing from the output. Here are some suggestions to help you to avoid this problem.
  • Try using the PostScript printer driver to print your job, if you have not already tried it.
  • Select a smaller page size and scale to the desired final page size in the driver or in the front panel.
  • Save the file in another format, such as TIFF or EPS, and open it with another application.
  • Use a RIP to print the file.
  • Reduce the resolution of bitmap images in your application software.
  • Select a lower print quality in order to reduce the resolution of the printed image.
  • In the Advanced tab of the PCL3 driver dialog for Windows, select Document options, Printer features, then set Max. application resolution to 300.
    note:
    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.

Lines are too thick, too thin or missing

Figure : Thin and missing lines
  1. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your software. To check on the front panel, use the View loaded paper key.
  2. Check that you are using appropriate print-quality settings for your purposes (see Printing). Select the custom print-quality options in the driver dialog (Mac OS Print dialog), and try turning on the Maximum detail option. You may wish to reprint your job at this point in case the problem has been solved.
  3. If lines are too thin or missing, print the Image Diagnostics Print. See The Image Diagnostics Printimage diagnostics print.
  4. Try aligning the printheads. See Align the printheads. After alignment, you may wish to reprint your job 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 RECOMMENDED, you should perform paper advance calibration: see Recalibrate the paper advance.
If the problem persists despite all the above actions, contact your customer service representative for further support.

Lines appear stepped or jagged

If lines in your 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 you are using to edit it.
  2. Check that you are using appropriate print-quality settings. See Printing.
  3. Select the custom print-quality options in the driver dialog (Mac OS Print dialog), and turn on the Maximum detail option.
  4. If you are using the PCL3 driver for Windows, you can change your image rendering resolution to 300 ppi or 600 ppi depending on your printing needs. You can find the Max. application resolution option in the driver dialog'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 them and then reinserting them. See Remove a printhead and Insert a printhead.
  2. Align the printheads. See Align the printheads.

Lines are discontinuous

If your lines are broken in the following way:
Figure : Vertical lines wavy or blurred
  1. Check that you are using appropriate print-quality settings. See Printing.
  2. Reseat the printheads by removing them and then reinserting them. See Remove a printhead and Insert a printhead.
  3. Align the printheads. See 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 your environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) are suitable for high-quality printing. See Environmental specifications.
  2. Check that the paper type you have loaded corresponds to the paper type selected in the front panel and in your software. 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 Super Heavyweight Plus Matte Paper or Digital Fine Art paper.
  4. Select a paper type that is slightly thinner than the paper you have loaded; this will persuade the printer to use less ink. Here are some example paper types in ascending order of thickness: Plain Paper, Coated Paper, Heavyweight Coated Paper, Fine Art Paper, Super Heavyweight Plus Matte Paper, Thick Fine Art Paper (>250 g/m²).
  5. If you are using glossy paper, try changing to a different type of glossy paper.
  6. Select the custom print-quality options in the driver dialog (Mac OS Print dialog), and turn on the More passes option.
  7. Align the printheads. See Align the printheads.

The Image Diagnostics Print

The Image Diagnostics Print consists of patterns designed to highlight printhead reliability problems. It helps you to check the performance of the printheads that are currently installed in your printer, and whether any printhead suffers from clogging or other problems.
To print the Image Diagnostics Print:
  1. Use the same paper type that you were using when you detected a problem.
  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 you 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 lines 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 you see horizontal lines 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)
The gloss enhancer (E) cannot be seen when printed on its own, because it is a clear fluid. To make it visible in the Image Diagnostics Print, it is printed over gray ink (G).
  • In part 1 (top), the gloss enhancer is seen as a slightly different gray inner section of a gray rectangle. On some papers the inner section may look darker, on other papers it may look lighter.
  • In part 2 (bottom), the small dashes of gloss enhancer, one for each nozzle of the printhead, are seen as small lighter gray dashes on top of a gray area.
On most plain and coated papers the gloss enhancer can barely be seen, so such papers are not suitable for troubleshooting the gloss enhancer.

Corrective action

  1. Clean any faulty printheads (see Clean the 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 your printheads manually (see Clean the printheads). You could also try reprinting your current print job, in case it now prints satisfactorily.
  4. If the problem remains, try cleaning the printhead drop detector. The printer normally notifies you when this is necessary, but it may be worth trying even if the printer has not suggested it. See Clean the printhead drop detector.
  5. If the problem still remains, replace any persistently faulty printheads (see Handling ink cartridges and printheads), or contact HP Support (see Contact HP Support).

If you still have a problem

If you still experience print-quality problems after applying the advice in this chapter, here are some further things that you can do:
  • Try using a higher print-quality option. See Printing.
  • Check the driver you are using to print with. If it is a non-HP driver, consult the driver vendor about the problem. You could also try using the correct HP driver, if feasible. The latest HP drivers can be downloaded from http://www.hp.com/go/z3200ps/drivers/.
  • If you are using a non-HP RIP, its settings may be incorrect. See the documentation that came with the RIP.
  • Check that your printer's firmware is up to date. See Update the firmware.
  • Check that you have the right settings in your software application.

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