- Never have a gradient go from 100 all the way to Zero....90-10 is ok. - the more CMY and K the gradient is made up of, the less you will see the "staircase" effect. - do not have the gradient travel a long distance with a smal change.
Normally gradients look like <redacted> on toner based output devices.
If they are running 8.5x11, they can print SEF vs LEF and have different results due to the laser lines. 11x17, you have no choice.
If they have an ES-1000, gradients print much more smoothly than if they calibrate via ColorCal as the ES-1000 samples thousands of points therefore pulling the color between all those points smoothly. ColorCal only samples a few times therefore big blocks in the gradient happen
Remember that a printer uses 4 colors to make any color you need, which is near impossible to get color accuracy on a gradient that fades beyond 50%, if it needs to mix all 4 colors, or even 3 to make a dark blue, that has high opacity , it becomes impossible in a hurry.