Bi-Directional Printing Issues

What You Should Know
About Bi-Directional Printing

During normal print cycles, print signals or print instructions are sent in one direction, from your computer to your printer. Printers that are Bi-directional (also known as bi-tronic) capable also have the ability to talk back to your computer in order to advise your computer of a print job’s status, paper status including the occasional jam, etcetera. This two-way or Bi-directional communication technology can be found in most of the more popular printers offered today, such as HP, IBM, Panasonic, and other laser or color printers, especially where bi-directional communication between the computer and the printer is imperative. In color printing, as an example, the printer will advise the computer of its constant availability status in order to mix color inks correctly for optimum output.

Unfortunately, most printer equipment such as printer sharing devices, buffers, etcetera do not support two-way bi-directional or bi-tronic communication. In essence, no communication is permitted from a printer to the computer. Most printer sharing devices act as one-way communication devices that will not allow signals to pass from a printer back to the computer it is attached to.

If you own a bi-directional or bi-tronics printer that supports two-way communication, and you are trying to share it among multiple computers, there are only a few ways of doing this.

  • First, try turning your printer’s bi-directional feature off. This is usually accomplished with a special software program provided by the manufacturer, a Windows driver or within one of the printer’s on-board menus. You should refer to your printers user guide for more information.

  • If the above doesn’t solve the problem for you, or need a different solution, your second option is to try either a small print server device or the Linksys Bi-Directional 2-to-1 AutoSwitch. Both of these devices support bi-tronics and bi-directional communication, thereby allowing you to share your printer. The Linksys device will even allow you to share files between computers as well. Although the Linksys unit is currently in its development stages, we expect to have them shortly. If you’d like to be notified when it is ready, just send us an email.

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