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Open Printer Project

Because I just threw out quite a lot of tech for no good reason
  [vote for,

Printers, the 2D kind are remarkable because they are immune to Moore's law. This is because the EvilCorp manufacturers aren't in the business of selling printers, they like continuous income from overpriced ink cartridges and obsolescence of the printer itself.

A quick look at any supplier of printer consumables will show you that there are THOUSANDS of slightly different printers from each manufacturer, such a frenzied pace of innovation must lead to a remarkable improvement in performance? No, the 2 monochrome printers from about 2009 perform similarly to a recently bought model. In fact, close inspection reveals that inside the plastic case with pointless swoopy lines and tiltable screen, it looks the same. The cartridges look very very similar, same manufacturer... it would make everyone's life simpler if they fit... no, some soulless engineer added a plastic lump so it doesn't fit. You can cut it off, but they thoughtfully added a chip... To protect me from the inferior print performance I assume.

In an attempt to curtail the ranty tone, I'll summarize. The company that makes a reliable printer with minimal maintenance and running costs is negatively incentivized. Instead, rebadging the same-ish hardware under a new model number every year or two seems the only way to survive.

The solution might be an open source hardware project. Open source 3D printers exist, which demonstrates the feasibility of 2D equivalent nicely, in fact it's more achievable. Similar projects, like the modular mobile/cell phone by "Phonebloks" are a bit silly. When hardware changes as fast as smartphone hardware does, a fully integrated design is likely to win. Printers, however, are easy. No one cares if a printer takes up +/-39 cubic cm, weighs +/-2000g, has a chrome bezel & a 4k UHD front facing camera. Even the price isn't that important, everyone I asked today ONLY knows you don't buy a cheap all in one. It's there for the taking as long as it ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY: 1. Prints. No 4min calibration and no, you're not getting a new cyan cartridge, I want my boarding pass now.

2. Stops printing. Every printer I've ever used, when asked to stop by software or hardware, doesn't. Stop now, not in 3 pages time. "Right, I'll yank your power cord, that'll teach you.... wait, why does this printer take longer to boot than my pc... and now its calibrating.."

3. Has very very much ink. I used to have a little monochrome laser Samsung, it coped with all my monochrome printing in my whole PhD on one cartridge. Samsung don't make printers anymore because they clearly violated the code. Anyhow, point is it would be trivial to increase the toner 3-10 fold for a decade of printing.

4. Has a stable, reliable available driver. This should be downloadable from the printer. It should be gettable via USB from the printer, it should have "Driver available at www.openprinterproject.com" printed on it. It should have a list of drivers from other companies that will also work to various levels. The driver code should be embossed into the printer surface, or perhaps be derivable from basic principles.

5. Hold a whole ream of paper. I have two printers, both over a foot tall that don't. Why are they doing this? It also takes guesswork on how many pages they CAN hold. That should be written in the tray, the minimum # being "500".

On top of that basic platform people are free to add stuff. A duplex module here, Wifi there, GPS for no reason whatever. Also none of those yellow dots the government uses. Maybe it could have laser/inkjet combo. Go wild.

bs0u0155, Oct 29 2018

DIY inkjet printer video https://youtu.be/fYeYeTGkvJM
Video of open source single page printer [caspian, Oct 30 2018]

DIY inkjet printer project page https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:8542
Project page for the printer in the video [caspian, Oct 30 2018]

OpenPrinter project http://openprinter....ki/Openprinter_Wiki
A wiki where they want to do this [caspian, Oct 30 2018]


       We should be able to do the print head positioning - it's like a 3D printer. And it should be easy to get ink for it - ink suppliers are happy to inter- operate, it's the printer manufacturers who don't. Paper sheet handling might be difficult - paper rolls would be more similar to what 3D printers are already handling, can you get standard paper in rolls? But I think it's doable with a combination of 3D printed parts, simple motors, springs or magnets, and simple rubber rollers, all of which are probably easily available.   

       It's the print head that's probably the hard part. But I've heard that for some ink jets, the ink cartridge includes the print head. So maybe you could find some type of ink cartridge with a print head that's been cloned by multiple third party ink cartridge suppliers, and use that.   

       If the project needs to be useful before the print head part is ready, the paper handling part could be used for multi-page scanning just by adding a camera (either at the print head or viewing the whole sheet at once) or smart-phone mount. Maybe a multi-page laser cutter for paper would also be useful. Or a multi-page pen-based plotter. Or a multi-page pen-based plotter than uses conductive ink pens (I think there are pens available for that).
caspian, Oct 30 2018

       I found and linked one. Looks like they managed to do the print head. It didn't have paper handling to do multiple pages by itself though.   

       ETA: it had the paper taped down. I reckon a good next step before handling multiple pages would be having a roller to take in a sheet of paper, and another to pull it out again. Then either improve it so it can take just one sheet if you put several into the rollers, or go straight to designing a large paper tray and feeder (which needs to handle the variable height and weight of the paper stack).   

       It could be motorised to raise or lower the top of the paper to the correct height. Or the mechanism could sit on top of the paper, with enough of it's weight counterbalanced to leave the correct pressure between the rollers and the top sheet.   

       If you base it on a 3D printer, you could have the bottom of the paper stack on the level of the bed, and the mechanism to get some paper from it at the level of the print head.   

       ETA: maybe easiest if the 3D printer had the bed move up and down, rather than the print head. There are some that do.
caspian, Oct 30 2018

       This is a problem particular to printers sold to the consumer market. Buyers of office printers for the corporate market don't stand for this nonsense and so office printers don't have this kind of obsolescence. For example, I bought a printer made for big corporations, the HP LaserJet 5M, which dates from the mid-1990's. It cost me £6 (including a full toner cartridge) from eBay, still works fine, and you can still buy 'compatible' (i.e. not HP) toner cartridges for it.
hippo, Oct 30 2018

       Cheese, if you get finely ground cheese and use that as ink...   

       Admittedly the aroma would fade over time, but old print-outs could still be read by specially trained mice.   

       Alternatively, we could all learn braille, end of ink issue.
not_morrison_rm, Oct 30 2018


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