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Let’s rethink and Restart the inkjet printer

open-inkjet
This inkjet printer is still functional, but was open by our volunteers Jack and Ben and is part of the Open Institute’s exhibit The Future of Open in London until July 3

Inkjet printers have been very common at our Restart Parties, since the very beginning. On many occasions, the meticulous work of our wonderful Restarters has helped to clean, repair, defeat planned obsolescence and give a second life to printers that were just about ready to be taken to a recycling centre.

However, we know that fixing broken printers is not enough. This week we are exhibiting a “transparent” open printer as part of the The Future of Open’s exhibition in London, to help visualise how printers work.

Next week we begin working on rethinking future inkjet printers, particularly how they could be made better, with better durability, ease of maintenance and less wasteful operation.

Our experience has shown common problems with the printers brought to our attention:
(1) cartridges are meant to last as little as possible
(2) refilling them is really complicated, while it should be a no-brainer
(3) often people are cheated into printing using all colours when they just want to print black text
(4) when headers get dirty, there are no easy ways to clean them
(5) spare parts are often more expensive than buying a new printer.

Our submission to The People’s Design Lab won the Weakest Link Award “for stuff you thought would last a long time, but ended up in your bin”. As a result, we are taking part in the first of 3 workshops to work alongside designers, students and others passionate to come up with designs for much more “common sense”, open, repairable, friendly inkjet printers. Join the workshop if you can, and in the mean time please share your thoughts and existing resources in the comments to help us reinvent the inkjet printer!

8 responses

  1. Firstly I’d remove the rabid dogs to prevent any more hair loss.

    But on a serious note… A pack of 10 Bic’s costs £1. Printer ink costs £10-£20. I just don’t get it. Instead of cartridges, there should be a few pools of ink that just run in, like filling up a water butt. Even start emptying those Bic’s into it if you like!

    1. Gary Henderson

      …and buying a new printer because it’s cheaper than ink-cartridges is not a solution – the ones provided with a new printer are usually only the half-full version!

  2. I have never understood why I have to keep replacing the colours when I only want to print in black….

  3. A great idea. I know of a group of people who would definitely be interested in this, and may have some insight. They’re the ones modifying injket printers to print etch-resistant ink directly onto PCBs. Not something I’ve done myself (yet), but definitely interesting.

    https://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Inkjet_PCB_Construction/
    https://techref.massmind.org/techref/pcb/etch/directinkjetresist.htm

  4. Gary Henderson

    ‘argged’ printing (i.e. small horizontal shifts between lines, like an analogue TV receiving a weak signal) are almost always caused by a build-up of paper fluff on the ‘optical ruler’ which tells the print-head carriage where it is across the page. Look for a strip of clear material stretched across the full width of the print-area & passing under the print-head; clean with a paper-towel or similar.

  5. Gary Henderson

    Oops – a typo – should read ‘ragged’…

  6. Most of the cartridges for top brands printers are higher then the printes it self , agian buying a new printer to replace is not solving the problems either as the cartridges comes with the printer is a starter pack which printing outputs are just few pages.
    so i would suggest to check the price of the cartridges before bought the printers. Bothers Compatible ink cartridges are significantly cheaper than other top brand compatible ink. But Borher printers are efficient for heavy duty.

  7. Luposian

    I got an Epson XP-820 for free, bought a $2 power cord for it and soon found out that Epson literally FORCES you to buy a new printer eventually because “certain parts reach their end-of-life”. This is RIDICULOUS!

    My goal is to create a 100% recyclable (plastic/metal parts) printer, that will be the LAST printer you need to buy. Why? Because we support it forever. If we improve something, you can get those improvements made to your unit. We don’t set limits on parts usage (X amount of cycles) and we make things easy for the customer to replace.

    No “chips” that tell the printer to stop working after so many pages. No expensive replacement ink cartridges. If something fails, you can: 1) Get the replacement part, 2) exchange your unit for a new (not refurb. or remanufactured) unit. If there is a faster model, you can pay a small “enhancement” fee to get those improvements in the exchange. But you will never HAVE to buy a new unit, because we know what it’s like to be in that position. Buying new (and ink cartridges) should NOT be the way money is made for a printer company.

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