How to Salvage Useful Parts From Old Printers


Introduction: How to Salvage Useful Parts From Old Printers

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Old inkjet printers that no longer work or old laser printers that are no longer functioning can serve as an excellent starting point for salvaging a great number of very useful parts.

Many people use the DC motors and stepper motors as well as steel shafts and limit switches found in these old printers when they build their own CNC machines and 3D Printers.

Step 1: Starting to Take Apart the Printer by Removing Paper Tray

The first step is always to remove the paper tray and paper holder as well as any other attached large pieces of plastic. Then you can begin by taking apart the plastic shell.

Step 2: Using a Philips Screw Driver to Take Apart the Printer

A simple Philips screw driver is all that is needed to take apart most of the printers. Inkjet printer and laser printer all have useful parts that can be salvaged and recycled to be used in other projects. Most people use the parts found in printers to make their own CNC Machines and 3D Printers.

Step 3: Some of the Useful Parts From an Old Inkjet Printer

The most sough after parts in printers are the stepper motors (usually from laser printers), regular DC motors, steel rods and shafts, a whole bunch of gears and gearing systems, screws, springs, limit switches, optical encoders and much more.

After taking everything out of the plastic shell, I further disassemble the components. These are all the useful parts from the inkjet printer. I keep the cartridge head assembly as well as the paper feeder as one piece.

There are two motors that I can salvage as well as a whole bunch of useful gears. There is a 30 volt switch mode power supply that can be useful in the future.

There are a few limit switches and some plastic rollers, a whole bunch of screws and springs

Step 4: Taking Apart a Laser Printer

Taking apart this old laser printer goes much the same way. I begin by removing the paper tray and taking apart the plastic shell.

The laser printer is significantly more complex than the inkjet printer. The components also seem to be of much higher quality.

There is this stepper motor which I was really looking forward to get. It is a Nidec 50M2883061 DC 22.5V that I find in this old Brother laser printer. This stepper motor is probably the most useful part salvaged.

Step 5: Useful Parts Salvaged From an Old Laser Printer

There are these solenoid coils and some optical encoders plus the toner and the drum kit that can be salvaged as well as the laser and prism assembly.

So if you have old printers lying around at home that you can no longer use try to see what useful parts you can salvage out of them. You never know when you'll need to use them in a future CNC or 3D printer project.



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    Thanks for the Instructable. Aligns with my experience in tearing printers down. However, I especially appreciated the warnings about material found in them requiring personal protective gear. This alone will save some folks from bad outcomes.

    I do have a question I'm hoping someone can answer: is the glass found on multifunction (and otherwise, I guess) scanners particularly remarkable (e.g., especially clear to ensure color fidelity, limit refraction)? I'd heard it was but don't know how to confirm this myself.

    IMPORTANT!! Some materials inside laser printers/copiers are not good for humans. Specifically, some toners contain carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) and the photosensitive material that coats some drums can be toxic if it gets into your blood stream.

    It's not the kind of stuff that'll kill you on the spot, but the long-term effects could be icky. Highly recommend wearing gloves and a mask when dealing with this stuff.

    My first job out of school was fixing office copiers/laser printers and we had all sorts of protective gear including portable vacuum cleaners with high-density filters. There were lots of 'safe-handling and disposal' rules we had to follow as well.

    1 reply

    Thank you for your comment. It is a good recommendation, if anything at the minimum wear disposable gloves and maybe a dust mask.

    Any way these stepper motors could replace some Nema 17s?

    1 reply

    Hi dcharter,

    Apparently the Nidec 50M that I found in the laser printer turns out to be a 3-phase brush-less DC motor and not a true stepper motor. At first, I could not find the datasheet but subsequently found it.[1...

    What this means that as far as it goes, it won't exactly replace a stepper motor since you cant control it via steps, it does however make for a very accurate dc brush-less motor where you need tight tolerance on RPM (Rotational Accuracy to within ±0.1%). You can look at the datasheet for the various torque / rpm curves.

    I am looking at sourcing some old HP printers to see if I can find true stepper motors, I suspect some copier machines must have some.

    I had salvaged well over a hundred printers/ scanners, and combo machines for parts as you described, in the end I only kept the rods since they were precision ground and polished. I had boxes of steppers, etc. - really nice quality and I couldn't even give them away, much to my surprise. I contacted public schools, universities, hobby groups to donate and unbelievably never got a reply from most of them even after repeated contact attempts. I finally did find a group who gladly took them all: U.S. Naval Sea Cadets had a hobby squadron that gratefully took it off my hands. Disappointing to say the least in my fellow citizens. :(

    2 replies

    That's incredible, considering the amount of money that surely is spent daily on all sorts of Nema Stepper motors this and that on Flebay and other such outlets.

    No one seems to understand the amount of engineering that initially went into making a laser printer.

    Hopefully those cadets got to hacking something interesting from your lot.

    Yup, I couldn't believe it either, but I was determined to not just do a Craigslist giveaway for someone else to profit from them. I had noticed that as the printer technology progressed, the polished shaft count went from 2 to 1, to a stamped steel "U" channel, which is of no use to me, so that kinda made me stop recovering that asset type.