Grease: We’ve Got -You Covered12 Sep, 2007 By: Jon Mueller imageSource
Grease: We’ve Got -You Covered
imageSource talks with Jon Mueller, Refurbished Product Manager.
Gone are the days of cure-all quips about grease like your Dad’s famous line,
“All it needs is a little 3-in-1.” Lubricants are now high-tech. And they’re
playing a larger role in the rebuilding of fusers and other laser printer parts
than ever before. Find out why fusers, just like race cars, require specialized
lubricants to maintain high performance. We talked with refurbished product
manager Jon Mueller to learn what’s behind Parts Now!’s ability to ensure that
you’re covered when it comes to grease.
imageSource: How do lubricants affect the performance of refurbished
Jon Mueller: The right lubricant determines whether your fuser will
function well or whether it will break down prematurely.
IS: What changes in technology have impacted lubricants?
JM: Printing technology, mechanics and materials have changed and
gotten more complex. Lubricants have had to change to keep up. Today’s laser
printer parts are made from very high-tech materials, requiring the lubricants
to work with these materials. For example, ceramic heaters are made of a glass
epoxy material and the sleeves used in conjunction with them can be metals,
metal alloys or various types of plastic polymers. All these materials need to
work well together. They can’t break down or wear on one another. They have to
last. At Parts Now! we consider a range of fuser and printer aspects like
operating temperature, design, material compatibility, pressure sensitivity and
customer performance needs, as well as cost, to determine the right lubricant
for the right parts or printer.
IS: What happens if you don’t have the right lubricant?
JM: There is no one lubricant that is the Holy Grail. The big mistake
refurbished printer parts providers often make is in not understanding the
Time-to-Temperature Curve or how long it takes for a lubricant to go from room
temperature to the temperature the fuser needs in order to run properly. The
lubricant’s viscosity requirements are determined by these temps. For instance,
if a fuser operates at 400 degrees and arrives at that temperature within 10
seconds, the lubricant must perform within that Time-to-Temperature curve. If
not, the fuser’s rated life or page count will be dramatically shortened.
IS: Are the lubricants that color printers need different from
JM: Not necessarily. They both need a lubricant with a particular
temperature curve and breakdown point. You can have the same operating
temperature between a color printer and a monochrome printer.
You can also have completely different operating temperatures between two
seemingly similar monochrome printers.
IS: What’s the most expensive lubricant?
JM: Frankly, the most expensive lubricant is the one that’s wrong for
the fuser because it can cause mechanical problems that are very costly in time
and money for the customer. We work to make sure that doesn’t happen. As far as
pure lubricant cost, some cost hundreds of dollars per ounce. We are currently
working with a lubricant manufacturer that has developed lubricants for NASA.
That’s some highly specialized grease that’s worth its weight in gold.
IS: What’s the most common lubricant?
JM: Most likely water! When you think of it, water is used in
manufacturing as both a lubricant and a solvent. In our case, the lubricant we
use on the 4000 series is our most common, simply because we sell more 4000
fusers and kits.
IS: What part of a printer is most sensitive to having the right
lubricant in order to perform?
JM: In most cases, the fuser. We pay special attention to fuser
lubricants for that reason. Parts Now! currently has a very popular fuser that
we’re enhancing by developing a custom lubricant that is not available
commercially. The customization has a formulation that will meet the most
exacting operating parameters, and will be exclusive to the company.
IS: What do service managers and technicians need to know about the
technology behind lubricants?
JM: Ideally, little or nothing. Lubricant science is complex. Service
technicians shouldn’t have to be the grease experts. But their refurbished
printer parts provider should be. It’s a matter of choosing the right partner
from the start. The better your refurbished printer parts partner is and the
more they demonstrate expertise and knowledge in this area as well as other
highly technical areas, the more you can rest assured that when it comes to
grease, you’re covered.
IS: How did you learn so much about lubricants, and how do you keep up
with rapidly changing technologies in this area?
JM: Our product specialists have done, and continue to do a great deal
of research. At Parts Now!, before we meet with our suppliers we research a
machine that’s new to the market to estimate key parameters like operating
temperatures and materials used. We conduct experiments to determine how certain
OEM lubricants failed, how they are applied, what ensures performance, etc. When
we’re going to have something custom-made for a certain application, we do our
homework. We take careful precautions to ensure that our refurbished parts have
the right grease for the right application, so that they perform the way our
customers need them to.