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Maintaining Old Printers

As long as your existing printer continues to meet your needs with regard to

  • connectivity (USB, ethernet, wireless etc.)
  • print speed
  • functions (such as automatic double-sided printing, support for colour, paper size…)
  • compatibility with the devices and O.S/firmware versions you use to send print jobs (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc.)
  • affordability (and obtainability) of consumables

we strongly advocate keeping old printers going. But to achieve this a ready supply of spares is required.

Various brands and models have their own specific issues, but commonly replaced parts include:

Laser printers:

  • Toner cartridges
  • Waste Toner unit
  • Drum unit
  • Developer unit
  • Input/output trays and cassettes
  • Paper pickup and feed rollers
  • Transfer Belt / Roller
  • Fuser unit

Inkjets (note: spare parts are rarely available for sub-£100 models):

  • Ink cartridges
  • Printheads
  • External power supplies
  • Ink absorber pad / Spitoon
  • Input/output trays and cassettes
  • Paper pickup and feed rollers
  • Duplex unit

Once a printer model has been discontinued (and is no longer available via the usual supply chain), the continued availability of spares depends on brand, model popularity and the good will of the manufacturer (or makers of after-market compatible parts). However broken printers for sale on eBay can be a good source of parts, well after the supply of new spares has dried up.

Where replacement parts cannot be found, in some cases it might still be possible to save the printer:

 

When you can no longer buy replacement pickup/feed rollers (from the original vendor, or an aftermarket compatible parts manufacturer), a Rubber Roller Restorer may extend the life of old rollers.

Sometime a general cleaning can work wonders, removing ink or toner powder which can interfere with electrical connections and marks on fusers & optical drums. A dry lint free cloth and a cotton bud may prove adequate, sometimes just slightly dampened with clean cold water, but for removing stubborn marks isopropyl alcohol may be better (although may damage some plastics).

If you are maintaining a number of laser printers, it may be worth investing in a toner vacuum. This greatly helps in keeping the cartridge and transfer roller areas clean of dust and loose toner powder. 

Plastic case parts (such as covers and paper trays) can be particularly tricky to repair, depending on the type of plastic. Sometimes gaffer tape or duct tape can work, other times a generous sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda doused with superglue (cyanoacrylate) can effect a strong repair (search for “superglue soda” to find sites and videos with examples of usage).

 

Of course the availability of spares is only part of the equation. Fault diagnosis and fitting replacement parts can be simple, or very involved. Manufacturers’ service manuals may be obtainable online and various websites (including ours) hold lots of printer troubleshooting information (although the advice on some forums is not always good), but sometimes repair requires an experienced printer engineer and may not prove cost-effective – in which case, regretfully, replacing the entire machine may be the better option (New Printer Selector).