Lexmark Optra C Background and Disassembly
Interest in color laser has steadily increased over the past five years. In 1998, a flood of new color engines hit the market. However, just two engines dominate the current installed
base of color lasers: the Konica engine used in the original Hewlett-Packard Color LaserJets and the Canon EP-H engine used by various OEMs. Although these engines have been in the market for
a number of years, aftermarket products have only recently appeared to address the considerable opportunity they represent to cartridge remanufacturers.
In June 1995, Apple released the Color LaserWriter 12/660. Unlike other color laser printers available at the time, the Canon EP-H (HX) engine in the Color LaserWriter used
a "multiple pass to paper" imaging method. The existing color lasers of the period built the entire image on the drum or belt and then transferred it to the paper in one pass. By using the new method, the Color LaserWriter was the first laser printer to allow full-color printing of up to an 11-inch by 14-inch paper size. The design of the Color LaserWriter also made it one of the least complex color lasers to maintain.
Lexmark released its own version of the EP-H as the Optra C in September 1995. Lexmark differentiated its product with a Lexmark controller and featured an adjustable gloss
control. The Lexmark Optra C was the leading brand of the EP-H engine, followed closely by the Apple unit.
The Imaging Process
The paper is picked up from the paper tray and secured by a clip at one end of the transfer drum. An electrostatic charge holds the paper in place on the transfer drum while a
latent image is created on the OPC drum. The OPC drum is then coated with one of the four color toners (cyan, magenta, yellow, or black). The image is transferred from the OPC drum to the
paper. The toner carousel rotates and coats the OPC drum with the next color to be transferred to the paper. When all four colors have been transferred, the paper is passed through the fuser and
then to the output tray.
Remanufacturing Opportunities and Issues
Remanufacturing the drum unit of the Optra C can offer a significant profit center because it can be used in conjunction with OEM or aftermarket toners. New OEM drum units
are frequently sold at full list price of $179. The probable pricing for a remanufactured drum unit will range from a low of $100 to a high of $140.
Selling the drum unit as a stand-alone consumable is particularly attractive. The drum unit poses minimal support issues as long as the electrical properties of the replacement OPC
correctly match the OEM unit. This will ensure that the color balance of the print output will be unaffected. Maintaining color accuracy is the key to satisfying retail customers in the color laser market.
The human eye perceives extremely slight shifts of color tones. An end user who has been using his color printer for some time will immediately notice a color shift in his output. This could cause him
to reject a remanufactured product.
A key limitation of remanufacturing the drum unit lies not in the process or performance, but in its delivery. New OEM units feature an orange molded-plastic cover that protects
the exposed drum during shipping, handling and installation. If this cover has been discarded by the end user, some alternate form of protection will be required.
Disassembling Optra C Drum Unit
1. Remove the drum axle end plate.
a. Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws that secure the end plate (Fig. 1).
b. Carefully remove the drum axle end plate (Fig. 2).
2. Remove the drum axle end plate located on the auger side.
a. Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws holding the end plate in place (Fig. 3).
b. A small locking clip secures the end plate to the unit. Use a small, flat blade screwdriver to release the clip (Fig. 4).
c. Carefully remove the drum axle end plate (Fig. 5).
3. Remove the drum axle bearings using a flat blade screwdriver (Fig. 6).
4. Remove the OPC drum.
Grasp the drum by the axle on the auger side, lift and carefully remove from the unit (Fig. 7). If you plan to reuse the drum, store it in an area protected from light and impact damage.
5. Remove the primary charge roller (PCR).
a. Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws securing the PCR cover (Fig. 8).
6. Remove the wiper blade.
b. Grasp the PCR cover and lift from the unit (Fig. 9).
c. Remove the PCR.
d. Grasp the PCR by the axle or use clean latex gloves when lifting the PCR from the unit (Fig. 10). If you plan to reuse the PCR, store it on a flat uniform surface.
a. Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws that secure the wiper blade (Fig. 11).
b. Grasp the wiper blade by the stamping and lift from the unit (Fig. 12).
7. Remove the torsion spring, auger cover, and foam seal.
a. The torsion spring, auger cover, and foam seal often come loose during disassembly. You may need to remove them to clean the waste toner from the auger during remanufacturing.
b. Using a flat blade screwdriver, remove the torsion spring from its post (Fig. 13).
c. Remove the auger cover (Fig. 14).
d. Make sure the foam seal is removed along with the auger cover (Fig. 15).
|Printers Compatible with the Canon EP-H (HX) Engine
|Apple Color LaserWriter 12/660
|Lexmark Optra C
|Canon C LBP-360
|Lexmark Optra C Pro
|IBM Network Color Printer
|Digital Equipment ColorWriter LSR 2000
|Lexmark Optra C Quick Reference: Printers
||Optra C Pro
|Speed (pages per minute)
||600 x 600 dpi
||600 x 600 dpi
|Lexmark Optra C Quick Reference: New OEM Supplies
|OPC Drum Kit
Click to view enlarged photo.
New OEM units feature an orange molded-plastic cover that protects the exposed drum during shipping, handling and installation.
This article originally appeared in the May 1999 issue of Recharger.