Why is it so hard to buy a printer?

I have an old Canon printer. It works fine, but there is no way to print from Android or ChromeOS to it.

I was hoping to cobble together a print server or some sort on a linux box that would make that possible, but apparently that is now hard, because Android doesn’t support standard printing methods, like postscript I guess?

Canon printer ink is also rather expensive. (Tried non-canon ink once, the results were not good.)

So I looked around. Checked wirecutter, that sort of thing… And came up with the Epson Ecotank 8550 I was all excited about this printer last year, and then I found out that it doesn’t support linux. That would mean that the computer I use the most couldn’t print to it. So I gave up on buying a printer for a while.

For whatever reason, I recently checked again, and I found out that the Epson Ecotank 8550 now does support linux. But while I was reading up on it, I did find out that the printer clogs for some people, and that the print quality isn’t as good as some other printers. In fact, the printer I have is probably better. A printer downgrade doesn’t sound very exciting.

So I gave up again.

But then it got me thinking, maybe I need two printers. One for photos and one for office stuff. I own some expensive camera gear, and it would make some sense to have a good way to print out some of the pictures i take and hang them on the wall, or give them as gifts. So I started researching large-format photo printers. And I had just started getting excited about the Canon PRO-1000 (the ink for which costs as much as a crappy car) when I found out that it doesn’t support Linux…

Is it really too much to ask that someone makes a printer that prints nice, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to use and supports Linux? All the printer manufacturer would have to do is to document the protocol, and someone would write a Linux driver for it.

Wonder if I can build my own printer? It might be easier…

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You are not alone! Unfortunately you are asking for a miracle… for many years I have been working with home use printers, experimenting and back in 2003 there was an amazing canon ip3000, I used the thing until last year, I got these aftermarket cartridges that had a hose to each cartridge from a tank on the exterior (Same principle as the EcoTank). The only issue was that once a year I’d have to clean out the heads with syringe and hot water. But the motors died last year and I couldn’t get new ones.

That being said I am still looking for a viable replacement, I too looked at those EcoTanks and came to the same conclusions as you, I believe that people maybe using cheaper ink that is clogging the heads prematurely(?)

Another issue is that printer manufacturers make the bulk of their profits on ink and expect us to fork out too much for them, personally I am so close to getting a cheap printer and just replace the printer when the included cartridges run out, it’d be cheaper…

As for the photo printing, that IP3000 was magic, it printed amazing photos, it even had a CD tray to print on CD’s. Although these days that’s redundant.

What could save the printer industry is standards.

  1. We need standard printer interface. This used to be postscript, but maybe printers could just have a “send-a-png” kind of interface or something? A standard interface would mean that nobody would ever have to worry about drivers which would be FANTASTIC.
  2. We need a standard ink cartridge or bottle. Ink should be interchangeable between printers. This would open the market for things like metallic inks, fluorescent inks, or printing with glue, or just about anything else that can be made into a fine enough liquid. The ink bottles also need a machine-readable code on them so that the printer can know what ink is in it. I’d be ok with having printers voiding their own warranties if unsupported ink is used, but it should accept any ink I choose to put in it.
  3. We need leverage in order to make printer companies actually adopt these standards. This could come from large companies and/or governments saying that they won’t buy printers which don’t support these standards.

The EU has demanded that all phones can charge over USB. Maybe it’s time they take a look at printers?

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Ideally there would also be a standard for print heads.
Imagine being able to swap out the print head & controller in a printer for one that handles bigger or smaller drops depending on what you need. :slight_smile: Or maybe a laser etching print head? Or a scanner? Or a plotter head? Dye sublimation? UV curing print head? DVD-like information storage head? Mechanical hold-punch heads? PCB drilling heads? The list of possibilities would be pretty long.

All we would need is a standard mount for print heads, a defined format for the controller card and a standardized cable in between them.

Although now we’re pretty close to the “make your own printer” thing again. :slight_smile:

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All of that would be amazing… I doubt anything like that would happen, the printer companies are currently having their pockets lined too much. I mean I could think of several thousand things I would do with interchangeable printheads and different types of ink.

As for the standards for drivers, I don’t know what happened but early 2000’s the drivers were straight forward and simply worked, these days however, with the vast amount of different hardware we have access to, the driver support is horrendous and like you mentioned, if there’s a comm standard, this would not be an issue. I hope that one day we get standard enforcement for drivers.

Building your own wouldn’t be too “complex” with your know-how, I believe that the only struggle would be to find good printheads that would actually last and finding the right calibrations for them.
Even with that though, you’d be using print heads that exist and would be stuck with using proprietary cartridges. Unless that’s something that could be manufactured within a reasonable price? I don’t know much about manufacturing or designing.

All in all, I reckon that this is a pipe dream unless it’s built by someone like yourself, which is a monumental undertaking, I cannot see HP/Epson/Canon ever putting this into the market.
Would be amazing though…

Maybe the next proffieboard will be printer enabled, OS7.x feature? :stuck_out_tongue: I think we’d need more pinouts though :rofl:

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Well, Epson has Ecotank printers, Canon have SuperTank and HP has Smart Tank, so they all have cartridge-free printers that can be loaded up with whatever ink. This wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t demand printers with cheaper, more environmentally friendly ink.

Unfortunately, only the Epson Ecotank ET-85** printers are even close to producing good photos AFAIK, all the others are either budget- or business-oriented printers.

As for building your own printer: I think I could manage building everything except the print head itself. Making a thing with thousands of piezo-electric drop-shooters in it seems like it would be beyond what a hobbyist could do.


Oh, and instead of a multi-purpose printer, how about a printer with a flat top so you can put a scanner[1] on top of it.

[1] or, one or more of the following:

  1. another printer
  2. an oscilloscope
  3. a receiver
  4. a monitor
  5. a laptop

Or maybe a rack-mount printer would be better? :slight_smile:

People could then choose to invest more in a scanner with a paper feeder for instance. Or perhaps a photo-printer/laser printer/scanner stack.

Anybody remember component stereos?

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