Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Getting More Out of Your Brother Toner

Today, my wife asked me to investigate why our new Brother HL-2170W wasn't working. When I got home, I found the orange "toner" light on. Removing and rocking the toner didn't help. Next, I checked the printer status page and saw a message indicating that the toner was exhausted. But, we had only printed 567 pages and the starter toner was rated for about 1000 pages. How could that be? It was then that I remembered that Brother toners shut-off after reaching a certain usage limit. I also recalled hearing about an easy hack to disable that shut-off mechanism.

After a bit of Googling, I found the Slate article Take That, Stupid Printer! The article confirmed my suspicion, but didn't provide the secret. Fear of retaliation from Brother? Anyway, a bit more searching using the suggested keywords landed me on this FixYa page. The first/"best" solution therein provided the magic hack. On my HL-2170W, the hole to be covered was on the right side of my drum unit. The hole is just under a half-inch in diameter so the described .5"-by-.5" electrical tape square worked perfectly. A circular plastic window on the toner aligns with the hole in the drum which needs to be covered. I imagine one could instead cover the toner window. But, the surface around the drum hole was more even so the tape was easier to apply. And, the toner is changed more frequently than the drum, so covering the drum hole means fewer electrical tape applications.

Enjoy the additional toner life! I just ordered myself a backup TN360 toner for when my starter toner really dies. :-)


  1. Thanks for the post! Saved our family some money.

  2. We just replaced a toner because we were seeing vertical stripes on print outs. One of the steps of toner replacement instructions is to "clean the primary corona wire" to prevent vertical stripes. You clean the corona wire by pushing a green tab on the drum back-and-forth across the drum a few times. Next time I see stripes, I'll try cleaning the corona wire before replacing the toner :)

  3. For those who tried to cover the hole and it didn't work....
    This is what I did:
    Buy a new Toner and replace the toner in your printer, Once the system recognize the new toner replace the new toner with the old toner.

    I have print more than 900 pages and the toner is still working.