On the bench today: an HP Color LaserJet 2600n, a modern compact color laser printer.
This printer is a curious beast. To an end user, how it works is pretty straightforward– you plug in an ethernet or USB cable and install the driver. But it’s really a technological marvel– a remarkably compact and precise “black box” that wields lasers, high voltage, motors, heaters, sensors, gears, and esoteric electromagnetic properties of specially formulated powders to produce photorealistic images on a sheet of paper.
From an economic perspective, it’s even more of a mystery. Brand new printers like this one are often on sale for about $300, complete with a set of full toner cartridges. You can also buy a set of replacement toner cartridges for it, for about $330. Thus from a crude economic perspective (that is, ignoring the extreme environmental irresponsibility of the remainder of this thought) it could possibly make more sense to just go ahead and buy a new printer when you run out of ink. Certainly, loss-leader printers have been the standard for some time in low end inkjets– is that what’s going on here, only at a higher scale? Maybe, but it’s not an open-and-shut case: the initial set of toner cartridges will last for years for infrequent home users, so it’s hard to imagine that HP would make money on every sale if they had to rely on many cartridges to be sold for every printer.
The printer on the bench today has served us well, but its time has finally come. In taking it apart, we’ll take a look at the design and see what interesting components are inside that might be reusable for other projects. (Hint: lots.) We’ll also see some of the very interesting guts in much more detail than your average teardown. We set out to make a photo essay of this, but at well over 200 photos (exchanged at the standard rate) this actually turns out to be less of an essay than an epic novel.
Continue reading Epic take-apart: HP Color LaserJet 2600n