What Is The Drum In A Printer

Do you need information on the drum in a printer? How about you read through this article on “The Drum In A Printer” to quench your curiosity.

This article comes with every information you require on the drum in a printer.

However, to make my fact clear to you, I will begin this article with an overview of the drum in a printer. After this, I will expose you to its principle of operation and its role in the three stages of laser printing.

More so, the next section will show the operational features of the drum in a printer, which entails that your drum is faulty and needs replacement. Even so, if your drum is faulty, you will get the types of drum units that can perfectly suit your printer.

After which, you will see the pros and cons of the drum in a printer. Next to this will be the 5 products I recommend for you to use as a replacement for your drum if it is faulty.

In conclusion, I will provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions on the drum in a printer. This will give you a lot of information.

Therefore, I urge you to sit back so we can do this together. I will strongly recommend you read to the end of this article for more clarity.

The Drum In A Printer; Overview

The Drum In A Printer; Overview

The drum in a printer is an electrically charged green cylinder or tube that uses static electrical charges to attract the toner powder from the toner cartridge and apply it to the paper as it goes through the printer. Also, the drum transfers toner onto the paper through heat and pressure.

However, the drum unit is exclusive to Laser printers alone. Unlike Laser printers, Inkjet printers use a fine spray of ink from the ink reservoir to print.

Furthermore, a laser beam creates image lines drawn on the drum. These image lines contain negative electrical charges. Hence, this allows the positively charged toner to cling to the drum’s surface.

Consequently, the law of electrostatics, which states that “like charges repel while unlike charges attract,” comes to play. Thus, these charged lines pick toner particles when the drum unit passes over them. As a result, visible images and texts are printed out.

Nevertheless, most Laser printers have the drum and the toner housed in a single cartridge. But in some machines, the toner has a separate unit from the drum.

Thus, this makes it possible to replace the toner without replacing the printer image unit. In most cases, you can replace the toner cartridge three, four, or five times before replacing the imaging unit or drum.

How It Works

How It Works

At first, the drum is positively charged by the charge corona wire. This is because this charge corona wire has an electrical current running through it. However, some printers use a charged roller in place of a corona wire but work with the same principle.

More so, as the drum rotates, certain points are discharged by the laser beam shined across the surface by the printer. Consequently, the laser draws the texts and images that need to be printed as a pattern of electrical charges – This is called an electrostatic image.

After setting the pattern, the drum is coated with positively charged toner. Due to the positively charged nature of the toner, it clings to the negative discharged areas of the drum.

With the affixed powder pattern, the drums tools over a sheet of paper. Before the roller roll the paper under the drum, the transfer corona wire gives it a negative charge. Particularly, this negative charge is stronger than that of the electrostatic image.

Considering that the paper moves at the same speed as the drum, the image pattern is exactly picked by the paper. After this is done, it is discharged by the corona wire to avoid the paper clinging to the drum.

The Role Of The Drum In The Three Stages Of Laser Printing

The Role Of The Drum In The Three Stages Of Laser Printing

The drum is only useful in Laser printers, and it plays a vital role in the three stages of laser printing. These stages are Image/Text Creation, Printing, and Resetting.

Image/Text Creation

Immediately after sending a document to your laser printer, its processor and software translate the words to instructions the printer understands. The drum then rotates and gradually exposes the whole surface to the laser’s light.

As a result, the laser sweeps across the page with rapid blinking. Hence, creating 300 to 2400 fine dots per inch. At any point where the laser meets the drum, that tiny point gains an electrical charge.

The continuous rotation of the drum enables it to pass over a reservoir of the toner. More so, the charged areas attract the toner. Hence, creating an image or text on the drum.


After creating this image or text on the drum, the next stage is the printing stage. At this stage, other rollers within the printer grip the paper and pass it into the printer.

However, its movement is synchronized with the drum’s rotation in a way that the paper top coincides with the beginning of the drum’s image or text. Hence, the drum presses its toner onto the paper as it rotates.

Furthermore, the paper passes across a heated element (fuser). Thus, melting the toner and permanently fusing it into the fibers of the paper.

Hence, it produces warm paper with printed images/text.


This is the last stage of laser printing. At this stage, the laser printer cleans the drum and gets it ready for the next page.

When the drum passes the printed page to the fuser, it passes a rubber blade.

Particularly, this rubber blade wipes the surplus toner from the drum and returns it to the reservoir. After which, a set of erasing lamps uses light to apply a uniform positive charge to the drum. Thus, they overwrite the previous page.

Lastly, a diffused burst of electricity creates a uniform negative charge over the surface of the drum. As a result, it prepares the drum to receive a new image or text.

Operational Features

Operational Features

In this section, I will discuss the operational features of the drum in a printer and its effect on printed documents over time.

The drum functions for a longer time than the toner cartridge. However, with time, certain changes occur that show that the drum needs a replacement.

These are the signs that indicate your drum needs a replacement.

Overall Usage

Ideally, your rum unit requires replacement after your printer has printed roughly about 12,000 papers of A4 size pages. Although, the number of pages that your drum unit will deliver is most likely to be less than 12,000.

This is because certain factors like paper type, toner cartridge type, temperature, humidity, and so on can affect the useful life span of the drum.

Drum LED Lights On

Mostly, theLED of laser printers starts blinking when the drum unit is getting bad. That is when it is approaching the end of its useful life. Nevertheless, you can continue using the drum unit until its print quality drops.

Ideally, the LED lights come on when the drum unit is bad. However, in some laser printers, you will need to rest the drum counter to turn off the LED when you replace the drum.

Dots Appear Down The Page

When dots appear evenly throughout the page, it indicates a chip in the drum surface. This is referred to as a pinhole.

Sometimes, this could be caused by the build-up of a foreign matter. In this case, it is simple to resolve. Just use a piece of cotton and isopropyl alcohol to remove it.

On the other hand, the dots could appear in horizontal bands. This implies that there is a short against the Primary Charge Roller (PCR).

Hence, you should get a new drum unit.

Damaged Drum Coating

Due to prolonged exposure to direct light, the drum coating could damage. Consequently, you will notice smears of toner all over your print. Usually, these smears appear equidistant from each other.

Also, if your drum wears out, it will produce grey-colored tire marks on either side of the page. As such, you need a new drum.

Straight Vertical Lines Across The Page

Generally, scratches can occur on the drum due to objects sticking into the drum unit or toner build-up on the wiper blade. As a result, you will notice thin straight vertical lines across the entire length of the page. Hence, your drum unit needs a replacement.

Message On The Printer Display Screen

In some models of laser printers, they alert their users about a faulty or worn-out drum unit by sending error messages to their display screen. Also, it might appear on your computer screen when you want to print.

The Drum In A Printer; Types

The Drum In A Printer; Types

Ideally, every laser printer comes with a drum unit. It either shares a unit with the toner cartridge or has a separate unit.

However, in the case of having a faulty drum for any reason, replacements are available in the market. Nevertheless, the drum unit either comes separately or in the same unit with the toner cartridge.

If it comes in the same unit as the toner, you need to replace it as soon as the toner cartridge exhausts, even when the drum is still functioning. Hence, below are the available types.

Genuine Drum Unit

A drum unit is said to be genuine if it is made by the same manufacturer of the brand. Sometimes, it can be available in combination with the toner cartridge. On the other hand, it could be in a separate unit.

However, the genuine drums are more expensive but highly reliable with high-quality prints.

Compatible Drum Unit

The compatible unit can work with multiple models and brands of laser printers. This is because they are not manufactured by the brand manufacturer but rather by a third-party manufacturer.

This type of drum unit can come separately or as a single unit with the toner cartridge. The compatible drum unit provides a good print quality and is less expensive.

Recycled Drum Unit

This set of drum units is made from trashed drum units. They repair it, test it, and sell it again in recycled form.

The Drum In A Printer; Pros And Cons

The Drum In A Printer; Pros And Cons

The advantages and disadvantages of the drum are most obvious in its performance in the printer. They are as follows:


High-quality Printing

Printers with drums produce sharp and quality prints. This is a result of the technology laser printers use. However, this technology fuses the toner into the paper directly using the drum.

Multiple-page Printing

The drum being one of the major components of the laser printer helps accelerate the printing speed of the laser printer. The drum activates the uninterrupted printing of multiple pages with the ADF mode.

In this mode, the printer reads through multiple pages and prints them one after the other.

Noise Production

During operation, the printers with drums produce less noise. The noise level of the drum in a laser printer is below 50dB. Hence, it is considered to be quiet.


Compared to a dot matrix or inkjet printer, which uses ink, the laser printer uses the drum to print at a higher speed. The drum helps accelerate the speed of the printer.

However, even the slowest version of these printers prints about 20 to 40 pages in one minute.



Printers with drums are rather too expensive. Although, the print quality is worth the price. The cost of a printer with a drum (laser printer) is about three times that of a printer without a drum.

Paper Type

To use the printers with a drum, papers are specifically made for this purpose. If you use any low-quality paper, you might be running the risk of damaging the drum.

Thus, not all papers are useful with the printer (laser).

Ability To Handle Graphics

The printers with drums cannot handle high-quality graphics, despite their color printing capability. As such, I do not recommend its use for printing complex graphic materials.

Hence, the inkjet is the best option for now.

Health Issues

The toner the drum uses to print in the laser printer is dangerous to human health. Nevertheless, the powder particles in the toner can cause some health risks to your respiratory system if you inhale it.

Also, since these printers require high voltages, ozone is released. Hence, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Order disadvantages include:

  • High power consumption.
  • Bulky physical size.

The Drum In A Printer; Recommendation

The Drum In A Printer; Recommendation

The table below shows my 5 recommended drums that could be used in your printer if the drum in your printer is faulty. However, I’m listing these top picks in ascending order, from the best to the 5th.

ProductDimensionWeightPage YieldsBrand
E-Z Ink (TM) Compatible Drum Unit12.68 x 9.72 x 7.56 inches‎2.77 pounds12,000 pages‎E-Z Ink
MxVol Compatible Drum Unit12.48 x 3.94 x 3.82 inches0.68 pounds23,000 pages‎MxVol
V4INK Compatible DR-630 Drum‎13.9 x 4.4 x 8.7 inches1.21 pounds12,000 pagesV4ink
CMYBabee Compatible Drum Unit12.5 x 3.9 x 3.8 inches0.75 pounds23000 pagesCMYBabee
v4ink Compatible Drum Unit13.19 x 4.72 x 7.87 inches1.08 pounds12,000 pages‎V4ink

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if I do not change my drum?

A faulty or degraded drum unit is not expected to function optimally. You should expect streaks, smudges, and blank spots on your prints, even though you have a new toner. A broken drum unit will fail to stop printing at a point.

2. What are the procedures to fix a printer drum?

When you have the drum ready, follow the procedure below:
Ensure that your printer is on. Then, open the front cover.
Remove the drum unit and the toner cartridge from the printer.
Then, you remove the toner cartridge from the drum unit by pushing down the green lock.
Insert the toner cartridge into the new drum unit until it locks in place.
Gently slide the green tab to clean the corona wire in the drum.
Lastly, install the drum unit and the toner cartridge back into the machine.
Note, the above procedures are for Brother printer. Other printers might have a different way of doing the same thing.
However, you need to reset the drum counter to work perfectly after changing the drum.

3. Is the drum the same thing as the toner?

No. The toner is a dust-like powder that fuses into the paper to create prints. While the drum is what transfers the toner to the paper.

4. Can you clean a printer drum?

Yes. You can clean the chunks of toner from the drum. Just dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and gently wipe off the dirty areas.

5. Can the printer drum be repaired?

Yes. The printer drum can be repaired, but I will advise you to replace the drum if it is faulty.

6. How do you reset a drum?

Close the front cover and make sure the printer is turned on.
Press “settings” and then “all settings.”
Select “machine info” or “machine information” and then “parts life.”
Then, press and hold “drum” or “drum life” until the display message changes.
Lastly, press “yes.”
Note that these steps are applicable to Brother printers.

7. Do all laser printers have drums?

Yes. Laser printers come with a toner cartridge and a drum.

8. Do Inkjet Printers have a drum?

No. The drum is exclusively useful in Laser printers. The Inkjet uses a printhead that moves back and forth across a sheet.

9. How long should a laser printer last?

About five years. However, if adequate maintenance is carried out, it might last beyond its warranty duration.

10. Which printer is better, inkjet or laser?

Both are good in different ways.
Inkjet printers are best for small, image-heavy documents.
While Laser printers are great at handling heavy volumes of text documents.

The Drum In A Printer; Conclusion

The Drum In A Printer; Conclusion

The drum is one of the major components of the laser printer. It plays a vital role in the creation of images/text, printing, and resetting the printer.

Also, the Laser printing technology is mostly centered on the toner cartridge and the drum. Without which, printing with a laser printer is not achievable.

However, The quality of the prints in the laser printer partly depends on the drum. Hence, the drum must be properly maintained to enhance the reliability and durability of the printer.

To this end, this Powerversity article has given you all the information you need on the drum in a printer. It contains the details on how the drum works, its role in the stages of laser printing, its operational features, pros, cons, recommended products for use, etc.

I hope this article is found helpful to you.

Hence, kindly share your thoughts with us through the “Leave A Reply” form at the end of this article.

Meanwhile, you may want to read similar articles like this, and please visit;

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Christian Jerome
Akan Christian writes for PowerVersity.com. He holds an HND in Electrical/Electronic Engineering. Christian enjoys reading, listening to solemn music, singing, and playing sports. For PowerVersity.com, Christian writes reviews, buying guides, and best pick articles.


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