Poor print quality on the DM110i, DM160i, DM220i

Check your ink, run a test pattern, and clean your printhead to resolve poor print issues.
Products affected: DM110i™, DM160i™, DM220i™ (PR20)


  • Print is faded, blurry or streaky.
  • Print is not clear and hard to read, smudged or smeared.
  • Partial printing of the frank.
  • The franking machine does not print at all.


Several factors can contribute to deterioration in print quality:

  • Lack of use: When franking machines are idle for a long time, dried ink from previous printings can clog the nozzles in the printhead.
  • Overuse: Overuse increases wear and tear on the printhead and can lead to issues.
  • Ink issues: Low ink or no ink in the print cartridge can impair print quality and cause other problems with the franking machine.


Solution 1: Check your ink cartridge

  1. Make sure you installed a postal approved ink cartridge.
  2. If you need ink, order a genuine Pitney Bowes replacement ink cartridge.


Solution 2: Print a test pattern to assess print quality

  1. Press Options.
  2. Press Page Down twice.
  3. Select Advanced Features.
  4. Select Maintenance Mode.
  5. Select Printer Maintenance.
  6. Select Test Print.
  7. Insert an envelope into the franking machine.
  8. The test pattern should appear as a grid with no broken lines or smears in the pattern:
    • If the test pattern looks good, press Enter/Yes. Then press Home to return to the Home screen.

      Good Test Print
      Good quality test print

    • If the test pattern looks poor, with broken lines or smears in the pattern, or if there is no print at all, select No. Your franking machine performs a purge.

      Poor Test Print
      Poor quality test print

  9. If your print quality is still poor or non-existent after performing a purge, or if you have already said No twice, press Yes to return to the printer maintenance menu and run the stronger purge C.

Solution 3: Run purge C to resolve print quality

  1. Select Purge from the printer maintenance menu.
  2. Select Purge C.
  3. When your purge completes, the prompt to insert an envelope to print a test pattern appears. Insert an envelope again. If your pattern still has broken lines or smears, or if there is no print at all, clean your printhead.
  4. Press Yes to return to the printer maintenance menu.

Solution 4: Clean the printhead

  1. Select Replacement from the printer maintenance menu.
  2. Select Replace Print Head.
  3. Remove the scale if one is present.
  4. Open the top cover. The print assembly moves to the front of your franking machine.
  5. Open the top cover.
    open print head cover  
  6. Remove your ink cartridge from the print assembly, and set it aside with the red circle facing up.
  7. While squeezing the clips that hold your printhead in place, lift your printhead up and out of the franking machine.
    remove print head
  8. Wipe the copper-colored section of your printhead with a dry, lint-free cloth or foam swab.
    wipe copper on print head
  9. Reinstall the printhead in your franking machine, making sure that it clicks into place.
  10. Reinsert your ink cartridge and close the top cover.
  11. Perform a test to check your print quality. (See Solution 2 for steps.)

UPDATED: 15 June 2023