Hacking a Printer Paper Feed

Don’t you just hate it when your printer refuses to accept a certain type of paper and it takes you 30 minutes to print one document? Well recently the family printer (an Epson PX710W) has suffered from this problem, refusing to accept any photo paper. This problem was driving me crazy recently when trying to print full A4 photos so I decided enough was enough and started investigating the problem.

 

 

The problem would seem to be a faulty system of rollers and gears that grip the paper and pull it through the printer. After turning the printer on its side and removing the paper tray, you can clearly see the rubber roller that grips the paper. What surprised me is that there is only one small roller that is off-centre. When feeling it, it wasn’t terribly ‘sticky’ so no surprise it was unable to pull the thick photo paper through.

 

 

After thinking of various ways to increase the pulling power (I even considered taking it apart and replacing the roller) I decided that all I really had to do was alter the paper somehow to increase the friction between the roller and paper. The paper feeds in face down so that the back of the paper is exposed to the roller. With this in mind, I had the idea of putting a Post-it note on the paper. Not in the normal orientation, but taping it sticky side up on the back of the paper, directly under the roller so that the roller would start in direct contact with the Post-it note glue. After re-assembling the printer and hitting print for what seemed like the 100th time, the paper fed in perfectly first time! Success!

So you might be wondering why I opted for a temporary fix like this rather than altering the printer’s feed mechanism. Well, this was because I discovered that the printer was not actually totally at fault. The photo paper that I was using is Tesco own-brand cheapo paper, rather than the Epson brand paper that you need a mortgage to buy! The back of the Tesco paper is a standard paper texture, whereas the Epson brand paper is like sandpaper. Some inspection under my microscope revealed this and can be seen on the right. The Tesco paper might look fibrous but the finish is smooth, however the Epson paper has lots of little bumps in it making it perfect for the roller to grip on to.

So I have learnt from this that proper branded printer paper is probably worth the money, but with a little ingenuity and a Post-it note, the much cheaper Tesco paper can be used.

Friday, May 11th, 2012 Take-aparts

4 Comments to Hacking a Printer Paper Feed

  • Sean says:

    Having similar problems with my Epson NX230 not wanting to print on thicker card. It actually does suck the card through and feed it out, it just throws an error. Was this the behaviour yours was doing, or did it not suck it through at all?

  • Joe says:

    hi there, i was having the same issue and I found the way how to fix it. just take the paper tray out and unscrew the three screws at the bottom and take that long part apart. Then remove two plates that holds the rubber and put all back. Upgrade done, now it works with all kinds of papers…

  • bartek says:

    joe’s solution works best, now i can print on canson rag photographique!

  • Drew Mcfadyen says:

    OMG, Thanks!. Went out spent £60 on new inks and paper. wasted loads of sheets and ink. Was about to hike across london to get my printer serviced assuming the rubbers where perished, stumbled across your site and your solution works. Fantastic. I had to laugh when I got to the bit about tescos its exactly the paper I had been trying.

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