Paper jams

Why does my printer always assert it has a paper jam? Why do other (personal) printers actually have paper jams the entire time?

Most cheap lasers, and now cheap inkjets, seem not to be able to handle paper correctly. More expensive lasers (like at offices) and more expensive inkjets (the one I have at home in Vienna) seem not to have this problem.

In fact with the ink jet printers, I must observe that the printers are from the same manufacturer and are essentially the same printer (this was not by accident). The difference being the design isn't as nice on the cheap one, it feels cheaper when you open the lid, and it has a single digit LCD display, whereas the expensive one has a colour pixel LCD display which has error messages in a language of the user's choice. But the print quality is the same (according to the specifications and in reality). And the software one installs on ones PC is the same.

The paper jam isn't even really a paper jam. After printing about 1 or 2 sheets, it claims to have a paper jam (although everything is physically fine), and instructs you to press the "ok" button. Once the "ok" button is pressed, it continues printing. I mean this paper jam is essentially a software paper jam:


  If product = cheap Then

    If (rand mod 2) = 0 Then

      Call paper_jam

    End If

  End If


I used to have a dot-matrix printer with a tractor feed. I could buy A4 paper with holes on the side. I could print A4 from the software. After it had printed I could separate the pages and tear off the holes left and right and there would be perfect pages of A4. It never had paper jams (how could it?)

Surely tractor feeds are a better solution? Why has the world chosen to have paper jams instead?

This article is © Adrian Smith.
It was originally published on 15 Jun 2007
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