Friday, January 11, 2013

Finding Stepper Motors in Printers

So, growing up I always heard that if you want to get cheap stepper motors, gut an old printer or scanner.  [Why, what were you told growing up?]

A printer needs a minimum of 2 motors.  One to move the inkhead back and forth and another to advance the paper.  So, theoretically, you can get 2 small stepper motors for the price of a used inkjet (so free, if you're vigilant on trash day).

Anyway, newer printers have moved away from this and are now using DC motors and an encoder.  So, while this is much cheaper for the manufacturer, it's no good for us.

In any case, just look inside the printer at the ink carrier, that's the little shuttle that carries the ink cartridges.  It will have a toothed belt behind it, and be travelling on a smooth, shiny steel rod.
If you see grayish transparent ribbon running parallel to the rod,that's the encoder.  This setup uses plain dc motors.  If the ink carrier uses an encoder, you can be sure the paper feed does too.  Save your money and look some more.

Don't worry, I tossed the carcasses into the recycling bin afterwards.

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