What can I make from an old Laser Printer?

I have a Dell 1700n Laser Printer that Needs a new drum and cartridge and I don't want to spend the money on an old b/w printer. Can I use the laser for something useful like a cutter to make stencils from packing tape or Contact paper? I don't want to spend a lot of money on this. BTW, I do not have the old cartridge.

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christophor7 years ago
True. That laser won't cut anything, but it can blind you. Be careful. The laser marks the places where the toner will stick to the paper. The toner only sticks to the negatively charged areas. The fuser burns the toner into the paper. That's where the heat is not the laser.

Don't give up though.

Here's what you have inside of that thing that could be useful depending on your level or resourcefulness.

The paper feed assembly is a treasure trove of small precision mechanical components. You'll have at least 1 stepper motor and a host of gears. Most of them will be nylon some will be metal. There will be some solenoids, which are tubular magnets used to pull a plunger that moves a lever or something like that. They're used to change gears as the paper moves along the paper path.

There will be sensors used to detect the paper as it moves. They're usually optical and triggered by a little plastic flag that moves when the paper pushes it. But it could just be a regular switch with a small metal bearing that is triggered when the paper moves over the bearing and closes the switch.

There are typically 2 power supplies. The high voltage power supply and low voltage power supply. The low voltage powers the laser and I believe the corona wire. It's been a while since I took the A+ so I might be rusty on that. The high voltage powers the fuser. It's possible you could use parts of the fuser assembly for a heating application or maybe just the mechanical parts. I would be careful with that though you could get hurt or killed playing with that.

The real gold is in the laser assembly. There is a rotating octagonal mirror used to move the laser along a straight line at very high speed. It pulses on and off to mark the image on the paper. You can replace the laser with a laser of your choosing.

I was thinking it would be cool to make a white laser assembly that you can separate into different colors. If you guide the beam into the printer's laser assembly. The mirror will make move in a straight line. Let's call it X. axis  You could use another mirror attached to the stepper motor to guide the beam up and down. Call that Y axis. If you pulse the laser in time to the movements of the beam, you could make a small raster image. If you separate the light into various colors you could get a color image. Kind of like a slow CRT monitor using a laser instead of an electron beam.

You could also use some of the stuff inside the printer to make a desktop 3D printer, but you'd need to add some more components and probably a more powerful laser. Now that I think about it, you could replace the laser with one from a DVD burner and use it to burn wood or maybe cut plastic film.

I harvested parts from MANY laser printers over the years for various projects. None of them ever resembled a printer when I finished. Look around this site and you're sure to find some inspiration to make something awesome out of your high tech old junk. :)

Good luck.


Wow,your answer is great!
Thanks!
I've made a "2 axis printer" from my old inkjet. It writes on anything (fabric, wood etc.) I also have a laser printer too. After it finishes its life, I'll convert it a t-shirt printer :)
hi friend

im trying to get my old epson r200 to print on wood...
can u plz help me to make the processs...

im gud in computers... but not in electronics


plz guide me....
lamedust7 years ago
 You can open it up and use it to print directly onto copper to make a circuit board etcher!
Sorry, The laser won't cut or mark anything.