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University to upgrade printers in dorms

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Headaches with printer issues should be alleviated by the beginning of next semester.

New Xerox 4510 printers will be placed in the residence halls and several other locations on campus, replacing the 3600 model currently in use, said Brian Burchett, manager of Technology Enhanced Learning Spaces for the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

“[The problems with printers] happened very quickly last year,” Burchett said. “We were concerned with the Xerox 3600 printers in the residence halls.”

The problems occurred when printing PDF files and because students began using the printers more, he said.

The University leases the printers from Xerox, and OIT decided to lease the 3600 model after looking at printer usages from previous years. The Xerox 3600 is equipped to handle up to 8,000 pages printed per month, Burchett said.

Problems occurred when student printer usage went up by 50 percent this year. The average residence hall printer is now printing 12,000 to 15,000 pages per month, which contributed to printer hardware breaking down, he said.

“The 4510 model can handle 25,000 pages per month,” he said. “We’re expecting far fewer mechanical breakdowns.”

Junior Kristy Cloetingh said has been printing more this semester from University printers, and said she has noticed other students printing more as well. Printing in DeBartolo Hall seems to be the most troublesome, she said.

“It would print one page, take three minutes and then print the next,” she said. “I had to print one document two pages at a time because the printer kept jamming.”

PDF file printing was another problem seen this semester and another factor in choosing to upgrade printers, Burchett said.

Burchett said the problem with PDF printing came from the printer drivers, which communicate between the computer and printer. The development of new drivers has since helped the situation, as Burchett said print times for one test PDF document on the 3600 model improved from 16 minutes to three minutes.

Cloetingh said she and other students have experienced the PDF printing problem firsthand. She said her entire class groaned when a professor asked them to print out PDF articles because of the trouble it would cause.

“Professors don’t seem to understand how long it takes,” she said. “But what’s the alternative? When you need to take notes on the article, or need to look back at it in class, it’s hard to bring your laptop to class all day.”

Since problems with printers were both hardware and PDF related, OIT decided to upgrade instead of just changing the drivers, Burchett said.

“Normally when you lease anything, there are penalties in breaking the lease early. Xerox is allowing us to upgrade [the printers] without any penalties,” he said. “This is very beneficial to the University.”

When students return from winter break, Burchett said students will have to test printing and possibly rerun Print@ND, the printer installer, if there are problems.

For now, students can rerun Print@ND now to get PCL drivers to help with problems until the new printers are installed, he said.

Burchett said students should look at printing as a shared resource and read things online, if possible, instead of printing them out.

“A lot of people have worked hard on this. We appreciate all the problem reports and student help,” he said. “Printing is an important service on campus and we’re committed to make this a service students can depend on.”