Dell Color Laser 3100cn Problems and Solutions

My Dell Color Laser 3100cn, commonly referred to here as “the Tank”, has been having issues printing full page color pictures lately. Today when I had family around and they were waiting for prints of pictures it was decided (by Chris) that it was time to fix it.

The two issues occurring most were a paper jam and then also a “void” in the image at varying spots (resembling UFOs in landscapes). The paper jam started happening shortly after cleaning the head on the printer with those cleaning sheet things (cleaned the rollers too good maybe). The UFOs started happening… well I don’t remember, but they started, and technically aren’t voids, since they are not where toner wasn’t placed, they are where toner has fallen off.

For the paper jam, Chris ran about 200 blank sheets through the printer (getting the fuser hot as well as stirring the dust and exercising the demons). It seems to have done the trick, well, that and adjusting the paper settings for thickness. Apparently “PLAIN 1” is designed for really cheap office paper (20#), not my professional papers (28# to 72#). “PLAIN 2” works for all of my normal papers.

On the void issue, it is just the paper causing it, apparently my “Business Glossy” is a “Coated Paper” and therefore requires a special setting of the laser for temperature at fusing. “COATED 2” was selected for that, a heavy weight, coated paper, so the rollers pick it up properly and the fuser doesn’t try to melt my paper.

It is interesting to watch the printer do its job on the “COATED 2” setting. Whereas I usually feel like the paper is being launched at me and is so hot that it curls (not good for reports), this setting is slower and sends a more crisp image out on the page, as well as brings a flat page out to rest in the tray. I may consider using the COATED setting for academic papers and such, just to keep the bend down and maybe make them more clean looking.


Since I myself had very little to do with getting my 3100CN back to a good functional state, I am hoping that Chris will write his own detailed entry of what was done and his logic/approach to the problem so that perhaps other frustrated 3100CN users can fix this problem on their printers using a method that DOES NOT involve shaving a few millimeters off of the imaging head assembly. Interesting thing to note though, my beta 3100CN did not develop the problem, but the production 3100CN has (although,  seems to be much better after today).