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July 2010-Steve Roberts-the Printer Works

Steve Roberts, serial entrepreneur and owner of The Printer Works in Hayward, spoke to the group about printers. Having been through several incarnations, Printer Works now supplies parts for individuals, companies, and governmental agencies as well as selling remanufactured printers. They specialize in HP Laserjet printers because they are built to last and the cartridges are relatively cost effective.

Each kind of printer has its own Achilles heel. Right now, solders that meet the new European low-lead standards have been showing up as weak points while manufacturers are learning the new manufacturing standards and perfecting their techniques.

When printer shopping, ask how many pages the toner and cartridge last. Then you can calculate the cost per page. Good systems can print for half a cent a page. Using refurbished cartridges, a company can print for less than that, so that they can provide service, printer maintenance and supplies for a penny a page and still make a huge profit.

When shopping, first look to see that each color is in a separate cartridge so that you don't have to replace all the colors when only one runs out. Ink bottles now typically contain a chip that reports each print job so they may report being out of ink when they are not, but calculate that they have printed a predetermined number of pages. Some chips can be reset when the cartridge is refilled, some cannot.

Steve recommends buying a good used printer. The roller jets that pick up the paper usually wear out first. His company sells a roller repair kit. The fuser also fails often, because of the heat.

The Printer Works primary role is to supply parts for printer repair. While their primary market is the printer repair professional, they also serve individual users.

HP printers have many of the features that the more expensive digital senders have. Digital senders can send encrypted files and they can save a file to a drive without further downloads or files.

Some third party cartridge companies do it right, a few do not and have given the industry a bad name. Larger companies such as Staples and Costco have done enough research to weed out the bad ones. Color mixes have been patented, so that remanufactured cartridge colors will be a bit 'off' to avoid patent infringement.

Looking into his crystal ball, Steve sees a lot less printing in the future. Color and all-in-one are likely to be the way printing goes. Inkjets and lasers each have their advantages and he is not clear which will win.

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