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HP Designjet 4000 and 4500 Printer Series - Resolving Print Quality Issues

General advice

Follow this general advice to resolve print quality issues:

  • 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.

  • Ensure that the paper type selected in the front panel is the same as the paper type loaded into the printer. To check this, highlight the (roll) or (paper) icon on the front panel.

  • Remember that roll paper will generally give better print quality than a single sheet of the same kind of paper. When using single sheets of paper, it is recommended to always set the print quality to 'Best'.

  • Ensure that the most appropriate print quality settings are being used for all printing purposes. Print quality issues can mostly be seen if print quality has been set to 'Fast'.
  • To maintain the best print quality at the expense of speed, change the Printhead monitoring setting to Intensive.

  • Check that the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) are suitable for high quality printing.

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Banding (horizontal lines across the image)

If the printed image suffers from added horizontal lines as shown in the figure below, try the solutions that follow:

Figure 1: Banding (horizontal lines across the image)

  1. Ensure that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

  2. If the issue persists, clean the printheads.

  3. Consider changing to a heavier paper type. It is recommended to use HP Heavyweight Coated Paper or HP Productivity Photo Gloss when printing dense colors.

  4. If the issue persists, use the Image Diagnostics Print to find out more about it.

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Lines are missing or appear thinner than expected

Figure 2: Lines are missing or appear thinner than expected

If some lines in the print are missing or appear thinner than expected, try the following solutions:

  1. Ensure that the line thickness and color settings are correct in the application.

  2. Ensure that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

  3. If the issue persists, clean the printheads.

  4. If the issue persists, use the Image Diagnostics Print to find out more about it.

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Solid bands or lines printed over the image

This issue can show itself in several different ways, illustrated below in magenta:

Figure 3: Solid bands or lines printed over the image

1 - A thick colored band
2 - Thinner colored bands
3 - Discontinuous colored blocks
4 - Thin lines

In each case the recommended procedure is as follows:

  1. Clean the electrical connections of the printhead that seems to be responsible (in this example, the magenta printhead).

  2. Clean the printheads.

  3. Reprint the image with the same settings as before.

  4. If the issue persists, replace the printhead that seems to be causing the issue. If not sure which printhead is responsible, use the Image Diagnostics Print to identify it.

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Graininess

Figure 4: Graininess

If the print shows graininess as shown in the figure above, try the following solutions:

  1. Ensure that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

  2. Use the Image Diagnostics Print to find out more about the issue.

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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 user is likely to see visible defects in the printed image, such as vertical stripes. This can happen when thin paper that becomes saturated with ink, is being used.

Figure 5: Vertical stripes on the print due to shallow waves on paper

Try changing to a heavier paper type. It is recommend to use HP Heavyweight Coated Paper or HP Productivity Photo Gloss for printing dense colors.

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The print smudges when touched

The black ink pigment can smudge when touched by a finger or pen. This is particularly noticeable on the following materials: vellum, translucent bond, films, productivity photo paper, and natural tracing paper.

To reduce the smudging:

  • Try to print in an environment which is not too humid for the printer.

  • Change pure black objects in the image to a dark color, such as dark brown, so that they will be printed with colored inks instead of black ink.

  • Use HP Heavyweight Coated Paper.

  • Increase the drying time.

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Ink marks on the paper

This issue may occur for several reasons:

Smears on the front of coated paper

If a lot of ink is used on coated paper, the paper absorbs the ink quickly and expands. As the printheads move over the paper, the printheads come into contact with the paper and the printed image is smeared.

Whenever this issue is noticed, the user should cancel the printing job immediately. Press the Cancel key and also cancel the job from the computer application. Otherwise the soaked paper may damage the printheads.

Try the following suggestions to avoid this issue:

  • Use a recommended paper type.

  • If the image contains intense color, try using HP Heavyweight Coated Paper.

  • Use extended margins, or try to increase the margins by relocating the image within the page using the software application.

  • If necessary, try changing to a non-paper-based material such as transparent film.

Smears or scratches on the front of glossy paper

Glossy paper may be extremely sensitive to the bin or to anything else that it contacts soon after printing. This will depend on the amount of ink printed and the environmental conditions at the time of printing. Avoid any contact with the paper surface and handle the print with care.

NOTE: Leave a sheet of paper in the bin so that freshly printed sheets do not make direct contact with the bin. Alternatively, remove an important print as soon as it emerges from the printer, without allowing it to fall into the bin.

Ink marks on the back of the paper

Ink residues on the platen or on the input rollers are likely to mark the back of the paper.

Ink marks when the stacker is in use [4500]

NOTE: The stacker is available with the HP Designjet 4500 Printer series only.

Try the following suggestions:

  • Clean the stacker roller.

  • Check that the paper being used is compatible with the stacker.

  • When printing in Fast mode on translucent bond, vellum, or natural tracing paper, there could be some ink transfer marks in highly inked areas. Select 'Normal' or 'Best' mode to avoid this issue.

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A defect near the start of a print

There is a type of defect that affects only the start of a print, within 5.5 cm (approximately 2 inches) of the leading edge of the paper. The user may see a thin or thick band of inconsistent color as shown in the figure below:

Figure 6: Defect near the start of a print

To avoid this issue, try the following solutions:

  1. The easiest solution is to select the Extended Margins option in the driver, the Embedded Web Server, or the front panel. This means that the area of the paper affected by the issue (at the start of the page) will no longer be printed on.

  2. Align the printheads.

  3. Check that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

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Lines are stepped

If lines in the image appear stepped or jagged when printed, try the following solutions:

Figure 7: Stepped line

  1. The issue may be inherent in the image. Try to improve the image with the application being used to edit it.

  2. Check that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

  3. Turn On the Maximum Detail option.

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Lines are printed double or in wrong colors

This issue can have various visible symptoms:

  • Colored lines are printed double, in different colors, as shown in the figure below:

    Figure 8: Lines are printed double or in wrong colors

  • The borders of colored blocks are wrongly colored, as shown in the figure below:

    Figure 9: Borders of colored blocks are wrongly colored

To correct this type of issue:

  1. Align the printheads.

  2. Ensure that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

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Lines are discontinuous

If the lines are broken as shown in the figure below, try the solutions that follow:

Figure 10: Broken line

  1. Ensure that the appropriate print quality settings are being used.

  2. The user is more likely to get good vertical lines with roll paper than with sheet paper. If using sheet paper is a must, set the print quality to Best.

  3. Consider changing to a heavier paper type, such as HP Heavyweight Coated Paper or HP Productivity Photo Gloss.

  4. Align the printheads.

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Lines are blurred (ink bleeds from lines)

If it appears that the ink is soaking into the paper, making the lines blurred and fuzzy, this could be because of humidity in the air. Try the following solutions:

  1. Check that the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) are suitable for high quality printing.

  2. Try changing to a heavier paper type, such as HP Heavyweight Coated Paper or HP Productivity Photo Gloss.

    NOTE: Glossy photo paper types are especially difficult to dry. Take extra care with them.
  3. Check that the paper type selected in the front panel is the same as the paper type that was being used.

  4. Perhaps the user has adjusted the drying time at the front panel to speed up the printer output. Select the icon, then Select drying time , and ensure it is set to Optimal .

  5. Allow the prints to dry separately. Do not cover or stack them.

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Lines are slightly warped

The paper itself may be warped. This can happen if it has been used or stored in an extreme environment.

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Color accuracy

There are two basic requirements for color accuracy:

  1. Ensure that the paper type has been calibrated, which will give consistency from print to print, and from printer to printer.

  2. Select suitable options in the application.

    NOTE: If PostScript is not being used, it must be kept in mind that the printer may be configured to use one of its internal pen palettes instead of the software's palette (which is the default).

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 the user has to use such files, try to ensure that the EPS, PDF, or grayscale images are already in the same color space that was intended to be used later on in Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. For instance, if the final goal is to print the job in a press that follows the SWOP standard, at the time of creating the EPS, PDF or grayscale then convert the image into SWOP.

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PANTONE color accuracy

Spot colors are special premixed inks to be used directly in the press, and the best known spot colors are PANTONE colors.

If the user has the PostScript model, the printer provides a facility called Automatic PANTONE Calibration, which can easily match most of the PANTONE Solid Coated spot colors. When an application sends a PANTONE color to print, it sends the PANTONE name together with its own estimate of equivalent CMYK values. The Automatic PANTONE Calibration facility recognizes the PANTONE name and converts it to CMYK in a way that depends on the printer model and the selected paper type, enabling the color to be rendered with greater precision than is possible with the generic CMYK values sent by the application.

Even when using Automatic PANTONE Calibration, the user cannot expect the printer to match the PANTONE colors exactly. The printer is certified by Pantone for some papers, but this does not mean that it can reproduce 100% of the PANTONE colors.

Using Automatic PANTONE Calibration (the best choice)

In order to use Automatic PANTONE Calibration, the user needs an application that recognizes the PANTONE colors, and a calibrated PostScript printer.

The Automatic PANTONE Calibration facility emulates PANTONE Solid Coated colors only (suffix C). Other PANTONE colors will be printed using the CMYK values sent by the application.

Converting PANTONE colors manually

If the user has a non–PostScript printer, or if using an application (such as Adobe Photoshop) that does not send the name of the PANTONE color to the printer, Automatic PANTONE Calibration will not be available for use. Instead, the user can convert each PANTONE color manually to CMYK values in the application, using tables produced especially for the printer and paper type.

If the application has a facility to convert PANTONE colors to CMYK values automatically, it probably does not take account of printer or paper type, so the user will get better results with a manual conversion using the tables.

The user can also obtain a PANTONE calibrated color chart in EPS, TIFF, and PDF format, which can be convenient if the application has an eyedropper tool with which the user can pick up colors from an imported graphic.

Tips

  • Automatic PANTONE Calibration works with PostScript printers only.

  • Ensure that Automatic PANTONE Calibration is turned On in the driver.

  • Some applications may not support PANTONE colors fully. For example, Photoshop 7.0 does not send the PANTONE Color with its name, it sends only the CMYK values from its standard table.

  • Some colors may be out of gamut and impossible to match precisely with the printer and paper type.

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Color matching between different HP Designjets

If the user prints an image on two different printer models (for instance, on an HP Designjet 4000 Printer series and an HP Designjet 1000 Printer series), the colors of the two prints will not match well.

Matching two printing devices that use different ink chemistry, paper chemistry, and printheads is unlikely to be completely successful. The information provided here is the best way to emulate one printer with another. Even so, the end result may not be a perfect match.

Printing via separate PostScript drivers

The situation is that the user is printing on each printer using the PostScript driver installed for that printer. In this example, an HP Designjet 4000 Printer series and an HP Designjet 1000 Printer series are being used.

  1. Ensure that both printers have been updated to the latest firmware version.

  2. Ensure that the user has the latest printer driver for both printers. Click here to download the latest printer driver version for any HP printer from http://www.hp.com/go/designjet.

  3. Ensure that Color Calibration is turned On. At the front panel of the HP Designjet 4000 series, select the (printer) icon, then Printer configuration then Color calibration and then On .

  4. Load the printers with similar paper types.

  5. Ensure that the paper type setting on the front panel corresponds to the paper that has been loaded.

  6. Print the image on the HP Designjet 1000 Printer series using the normal settings.

  7. Now prepare to print the same image on the HP Designjet 4000 Printer series.

  8. In the application, set the color space of the image to emulate the HP Designjet 1000 Printer series and the specific paper type that was used in that printer. The data sent to the driver must be already converted to this emulation color space, which is a CMYK color space. See the application's online help for information on how to do this. In this way, the 4000 series will emulate the colors that the 1000 series can produce when printing on that paper type.

  9. In the PostScript driver for the HP Designjet 4000 Printer series, go to the Color Management section and set the CMYK input profile to the same HP Designjet 1000 Printer series color space that was selected in the application (the emulation color space).

    NOTE: When trying to emulate another printer the user should always use CMYK colors, not RGB.
  10. Set the rendering intent to Relative Colorimetric , or to Absolute Colorimetric if the user wants to emulate the whiteness of the paper.

  11. Print the image on the HP Designjet 4000 Printer series.

Printing via separate HP-GL/2 drivers

The situation is that the user is printing on each printer using the HP-GL/2 driver installed for that printer.

  1. Ensure that both printers have been updated to the latest firmware version.

  2. Ensure that the user has the latest printer driver for both printers. Click here to download the latest printer driver version for any HP printer from http://www.hp.com/go/designjet.

  3. Ensure that Color Calibration is turned On. At the front panel of the HP Designjet 4000 Printer series, select the (printer) icon, then Printer configuration then Color calibration and then On .

  4. Load the printers with similar paper types.

  5. Ensure that the paper type setting on the front panel corresponds to the paper that has been loaded.

  6. With the HP-GL/2 driver for the HP Designjet 4000 Printer series, select the Color tab, and select Printer Emulation from the list of color management options. Then choose the Designjet 1000 series from the list of emulated printers.

  7. With the HP-GL/2 driver for the HP Designjet 1000 series, select the Options tab, then Manual Color then Color Control and then Match Screen . Also select the Paper Size tab, then Paper Type .

Printing the same HP-GL/2 file

The situation is that the user has produced an HP-GL/2 file (also known as a PLT file) using the HPGL/ 2 driver installed for one printer, and intends to send the same file to both printers.

  1. Ensure that both printers have been updated to the latest firmware version.

  2. Ensure that Color Calibration is turned On . At the front panel of the HP Designjet 4000 Printer series, select the (printer) icon, then select Printer configuration then Color calibration and then On .

  3. Load the printers with similar paper types.

  4. Ensure that the paper type setting on the front panel corresponds to the paper that has been loaded.

  5. If the user has an HP-GL/2 file produced for an HP Designjet 1000 Printer series and wishes to print it on an HP Designjet 4000 Printer series, proceed as follows using the Embedded Web Server or the front panel:

    • Using the Embedded Web Server: Leave the color options set to Default .

    • Using the front panel: Select the (printer) icon, then Default printing options then Color options then Select RGB input profile then HP Designjet 1000 Series .

    For other HP Designjet printers, set both printers to match the screen colors (sRGB if selectable), as when printing with separate HP-GL/2 drivers.

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