What Is The Drum On A Printer? What You Should Know

Modern printers are one of the best technologies around. Do you know that the fastest printer in the world can surprisingly print approximately 150 pages per minute? Additionally, the world’s smallest printer, called PrintStik, measures 2x2x11 inches? 

Moving away from the fun facts, one crucial thing to remember about printers is that they boast varied components. And these components function together to make creating prints on paper possible.      

Understanding how each part works and what they do can prove helpful when your printer develops a fault. You’ll know what needs changing so the machine can function optimally.       

Now, let’s find the answer to an essential component of the printer, called the drum.  

What is the drum on a printer? 

The printer drum is a part of the laser printer. The drum serves to hold the paper in place, receive images from the laser, and transfer it to a paper. This transference of images to paper happens through heat and pressure. 

The printer drums are cylindrical, electrically charged, and covered in materials, which are photoreceptive. The entire printing process ( for a laser printer) rests largely on this photo static printer drum. 

How Does The Drum On A Printer Work? 

You should know that the printing process of a laser printer is similar to that of a photocopier and that the printer drum is at the center of the laser printer’s operation. 

The drum releases a positive charge every time it’s exposed to light. So, the laser printer forms its images or letters as the light from the laser focuses on the drum unit. Here is a breakdown of the printing process:

Image creation:

Most of us don’t think deeply about how printing works. But have you ever wondered about how by tapping a few buttons, the image you see on your screen appears on paper.

Every time you tap “print” on your computer, the processor chips in your laser printer translate the file sent to instructions that the printer can easily comprehend. 

The drum repeatedly turns on its axis to make sure that laser light touches every part of it. As the laser sweeps across the page, it creates hundreds to thousands of dots per inch. 

Every time the laser hits the drum, an electrical charge gets discharged. For the printer to form an image, the drum must continuously rotate around its axis and pass over every toner. 

The charges on the drum allow it to attract the toner, which causes the creation of an image on the drum. 

Printing the image:

Different parts of the printer work closely with the drum to print pages. Once you put your paper into the printer and the printer has received the instruction to print, the paper passes into the printer through the sheet feeder, and the drum starts rotating. 

The drum rotation is coordinated so that the image is imprinted from the drum to the paper in the right direction, which is from the top of the paper to the bottom. 

As the drum is rotating on its axis, it presses the particles of toner on the paper. After this, the paper gets passed through the fuser. The fuser is responsible for melting and permanently infusing the toner onto the paper. 

Have you ever wondered why freshly printed pages are always warm? It is because of the fuser, which is a heated element. Also, the process of melting and infusing contributes to making the paper hot after printing. 

Preparing to print again:

Preparing the printer to print a new page is part of the final process of laser printing. When one printing process is rounding up, the printer starts preparing for another one. 

The printed paper gets passed from the drum to the fuser and the rubber blade. The job of this rubber blade is to clean any excess toner. It cleans and returns the excess toner to the reservoir. 

After this toner cleaning, the erase lamp impresses a wholesome, positive charge on the drum using light. This process is to clear the previously printed page from the drum. 

For the drum to print a new page there must have been a subtle but effective discharge of electricity on the surface of the drum. This discharge creates a release of negative charges on the printer drum, fully preparing it for a new image. 

Can You Remove The Printer Drum From Your Printer? 

Yes! Removing the printer drum is the only way to fix it if it develops a fault. To put in a new unit, you must remove the old one. How you remove the printer drum is dependent on your type of laser printer. 

However, most printers either have a small knob or button that opens the door that leads to the drum. The instruction on how to remove and replace a printer drum is usually on the printer’s manual. You could also seek the assistance of an expert. 

When Should You Change Your Printer Drum? 

Your laser printer’s drum will give you signs that it needs fixing. And you don’t need much experience or technical knowledge to know when. 

The signs that your drum is due for a change are quite easy to discern. However, you should know that the signs displayed by printers differ from one model to another. These signs include blank or blurry prints and sometimes, depending on the printer, an error message. 

Are Printer Drums Durable? 

How long your printer drum lasts is dependent on the type of printer you use. As stated earlier, your printer should let you know when your drum is due for a change. 

Generally, one drum can create thousands of pages. You may read about the particular type of printer you own or use to find out the number of pages it can produce. Knowing this detail would give you an idea of how long your printer drum would last. 

Are Printer Drums The Same As Toner Cartridges? 

Printer drums are not the same as toner cartridges. The two of them are parts of a laser printer, and they both play different roles in the printing process, even though they are closely connected. 

The toner cartridge houses the toner powder, while the printer drum transfers the powder to the printing paper. The two parts may either be together in the printer or separate areas of the printer. The placement of the parts is dependent on the printer model and type. 

Can You Clean The Printer Drum? 

Yes, you can. You can clean your printer drum first before you change it. Sometimes, when your printouts have blotches or are blank, it may be that your drum unit needs cleaning. To save cost, some people choose to clean first before replacing their printer drums. 

Choosing to clean first is a good decision if you know the amount of care the printer drum needs. This part of the printer is sensitive, so you should handle it delicately. 

How To Clean Your Printer Drum 

Here is a step by step guide to cleaning your printer drum:

Gather your cleaning supplies:

First things first! You would need to bring together all the things you would need to clean. You would need cotton swabs, a cleaning cloth (lint-free), tweezers (or an alternative), rubbing alcohol, and paper towels. 

Remove the drum:

To successfully take out your printer drum without damaging it, you would need the manufacturer’s manual to guide you. 

It would be best if you had paper towels close to you as you take out the drum because excess toner might spill. Also, ensure that your fingerprints are not left on the surface of the roller. 

Look at it closely:

When you have successfully taken out the printer drum, you must inspect it. Do this, so that you don’t have to spend your time cleaning something that only a replacement can fix. Look for signs of damage. If you find none, continue with the cleaning. 

Start cleaning:

To clean, you have to be careful because your good intentions may cost you if you don’t handle the unit delicately. 

Remove excess toner on the drum unit with the tweezers. You mustn’t touch or scratch the drum’s surface, so don’t be in a hurry. Check for visible dirt after this is done, and wipe it off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. 

You can also dip your cleaning cloth in rubbing alcohol to clean a dirty unit. After this, please take a careful look at the printer drum to ensure it is clean enough to return to the printer. 

Return the printer drum and test the printer:

Don’t return the drum units to the printer until you’re sure the unit is fully dry. Turn on the printer and don’t start printing immediately. Give it a few minutes, and then try printing out a few pages. 

Suppose the printed pages have an issue, Wait a moment and try printing a few pages again. If the issue persists, then your printer drum needs a replacement. But if the printed pages are clear, then you’re back to business. Congratulations! 


The printer drum is a significant component of your laser printer, and it is responsible for the production of your final print. This drum is removable and replaceable, and you can maintain and change it yourself. 

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