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Thanks to James R. Cutler for the link to the ManualsLib site with the Epson cleaning procedure. Unfortunately, I find Epson's suggestions to basically dust off the rollers woefully inadequate. For P Tinder, yes, if a rubber roller or pad is very hard from age, it will have to be replaced. However, I have resurrected many printer feeds by rubbing down the rubber rollers and any pads with 200 or 400 grit emery paper and then cleaning them thoroughly with >90% isopropyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol). Some disassembly may be required to effectively access the rollers and pads. Both the physical abrasion and chemical interaction of this approach make the rollers and grab pads more tacky. If the procedure doesn't work the first time, repeat it. If it still doesn't work, you'll have to replace the parts. Certainly worth a try.
I remember a product called Rubber Rejuvenator that I used on my old reel-to-reel tape recorder rubber parts. Don't know if it is still available or is appropriate for print rollers.
 



Back in the late ’90s, when HP still made good printers, I bought an LJ 2100M, which, augmented with a JetDirect ethernet card, has been on my home LAN ever since. It never got a lot of use over the years but it was nice to have. About six or seven years ago, however, it started to get tired. Specifically, we began to get paper jams, and they eventually got worse until we couldn’t rely on the main paper tray input.

To avoid the aggravation, we simply started feeding pages in through the manual slot, one piece of paper at a time. For a few pages, this was not a big deal, but for the occasional (once a month?) longer print jobs, it was kind of a nuisance. I looked on the interweb and found that HP was selling an overhaul kit to solve this very problem, which was caused by the rubber parts getting old and thus hard, dry or smooth and, as a result, no longer grabbing and feeding the paper properly. But, the kit was something like $49.99, and I thought that that was a bit exorbitant, especially since the printer was getting older by the day, and who knows when some more serious, too-costly component would fail, requiring a complete replacement of the device? So we lived with it, the way it was.

Then, about a year ago, I found a Chinese outfit online that had a similar kit for $16, including shipping (!), so I ordered it. I found good instructions on the 'net. I had all the necessary tools. I took my time and worked carefully. There were five parts to replace: two pads, two rollers and a pinch-wheel. Four of the five were completely simple, but the fifth, the pinch-wheel, was deep inside the machine and required pretty much a complete tear-down to get at. Finally, a couple of hours later, I was done. I hooked it back up and — voila — it worked! As good as new!

Even knowing that this ol’ beauty could crap out tomorrow, for $16 and the fun I had in doing the job, I’m glad I finally got around to it. :-)
 



... ink wasted by maintenance cycles doesn't matter.
Inkjet printers I am familiar with (HP, Epson, Canon, Brother) all have thick felt pads in the bottom of the printer that catch the unused ink that comes from the startup, shutdown, and cleaning cycles. These pads will eventually near saturation. I have had ink jet printers give me error messages saying the printer had reached the end of life, and I expect the total unused ink is a major factor in that calculation, since theses printers were typically working well just prior to that "permanent" shut down. There could be some real liability should a printer start dripping dirty ink (blended colors) out the bottom of the unit.

Personally, I use a high-end Canon Pro inkjet for photos, and a Brother multifunction color laser for all else. The latest color lasers do an amazing job for color (relative to what the color lasers were capable of ten years ago), and it does handle photos pretty well (well, nothing I would frame and put on the wall). I find the Brother mechanicals, software, features, and price hard to beat, and have gotten more than ten years out of a few Brother inkjets and lasers. I tend to prefer HP mechanicals, but certainly not their software. The lasers are so much faster, and trouble-free, and cheaper to use, that anyone doing regular printing should consider them over inkjets. Inkjet cleaning cycles are a pain! However, high quality photo prints are not there yet with lasers.
 


I remember a product called Rubber Rejuvenator that I used on my old reel-to-reel tape recorder rubber parts. Don't know if it is still available or is appropriate for print rollers.
I was a newspaper press operator for many years, and we used Rubber Rejuvenator on our press rollers. Definitely softened up the rubber rollers. The fumes from this stuff are nasty. Be sure to use it in a well-ventilated area.
 


Rubber Renue should not be used for one thing that interests me - rubber capstan pinch rollers, according to the top-rated review of Rubber Renue on Amazon:
Amazon review said:
Do not use MG Chemicals Rubber Renue to clean rubber capstan pinch rollers that come into direct contact with audio/video tape!
...
Conclusions:
For cleaning audio and video pinch rollers that come into direct contact with audio and video tapes, this product should not be used according to exerts, including those at MG Chemicals. If you do need to restore rubber pinch rollers that contact audio and video tape, be careful to not use a product that infuses oils into the rubber as this can damage or destroy the audio tape. American Recorder confirmed this, and said that if you need a good cleaner that will not dry the rubber roller, use their product: S-721H-4.
 


I, too, use a high-end Canon Pro printer to make archive-quality prints, some for sale. It is an amazing piece of equipment, and I also use it to print some graphic jobs I do for a non-profit. It has a separate maintenance cartridge for excess ink, which needs to be replaced every so often. The ink is very expensive, but for our needs, it is the best solution.

But for most of our printing, black-and-white is fine, and for that I have a perhaps 10-year-old Brother HL-5250DN that has worked flawlessly since I got it – I think it may have cost around $250. It is fast, and the output is incredibly sharp and clean. I often use the duplex printing option. I haven't replaced the toner cartridge yet, but it was one of those models that came with a full toner cartridge, unlike other Brother laser printers I've seen that come with a skimpy starter cartridge. Don't know if they still do that.

For fast color prints, I use a 4-year-old Brother MFC-J880DW we got when we still had need of a fax machine; it also serves as my wife's printer, when she has a (rare) need to print. Yes, inkjet cleaning cycles are a pain, and the only way to possibly avoid them is to use the printer regularly; but my inkjet printers inevitably have always had periods of rest, at the end of which I find clogged jets. In my experience, Canon and Brother have always been a little better in that regard than Epson, but I haven't used an Epson in many years.
 


Inkjet printers I am familiar with (HP, Epson, Canon, Brother) all have thick felt pads in the bottom of the printer that catch the unused ink that comes from the startup, shutdown, and cleaning cycles. These pads will eventually near saturation. I have had ink jet printers give me error messages saying the printer had reached the end of life, and I expect the total unused ink is a major factor in that calculation, since theses printers were typically working well just prior to that "permanent" shut down. There could be some real liability should a printer start dripping dirty ink (blended colors) out the bottom of the unit.
For at least some Epson printers, the "diaper" can be changed (at high cost) and the firmware reset to allow continued printing. You can also find online kits that divert the excess ink to a bottle outside of the printer. I did this several years ago with an Epson 1400. There was an Epson utility for resetting the printer, but it was only available for Windows. The amount of ink that went to the bottle was pretty shocking!
 


A comment on the economics of various printers:

Manufacturers' cost-per-page estimates should not be seen as standalone estimates. To be considered accurate, estimates are made in the context of "printer duty cycles," which assume a certain number of copies/prints over a specified period of time, typically expressed on specification sheets as "up to X copies per month." This helps to capture the impact of indirect costs, like the loss of ink due to automatic inkjet head cleaning, waste, or other maintenance tasks.

To give an idea of common duty cycle ranges, a basic consumer inkjet might have a duty cycle of 1,000 prints per month, while a business class printer shared by an office might have a duty cycle of 75,000 prints per month or even substantially more.

What does this mean in the real world? If your intended printer usage is significantly different from the printer's specified duty cycle, the manufacturer's cost-per-page estimate may be significantly different from what you will actually see in the field.

To take a relatively extreme case, we used to have an old Brother multifunction device in the office that was used primarily as a networked scanner, but rarely as a printer. Despite getting relatively light use as a printer, the device consumed a surprising number of ink cartridges due to frequent automated cleaning cycles and occasionally clogged heads.

When we actually did the math, the actual cost per page of that printer was approximately ten times higher the manufacturer's estimated cost per page! Had we purchased a comparably priced multifunction laser printer with a higher estimated cost per page, our actual costs would have been far lower than the "cheaper" inkjet, but only because our usage was so much lower than the associated duty cycle.

Especially for people with low volume personal printing requirements, a color laser printer can be substantially less expensive over time than an inkjet, given the absence of cleaning cycles and clogged head replacements. Indeed, I've seen examples in my extended family where people took several years to empty their starter cartridges, resulting in extremely low costs per page. For those occasions when someone required higher quality photo output, it was simple enough to visit the local FedEx Office location or print shop and print there, or even to use a friend's printer. (The caveat, of course, is that people who buy laser printers need to be prepared to pay the higher unit cost of laser consumables, even if their per page costs are much less.)

As with automobiles, your mileage may vary.
 


Yes, inkjet cleaning cycles are a pain, and the only way to possibly avoid them is to use the printer regularly; but my inkjet printers inevitably have always had periods of rest, at the end of which I find clogged jets. In my experience, Canon and Brother have always been a little better in that regard than Epson, but I haven't used an Epson in many years.
Yes, even the best inkjets are a pain, but that has been my experience with Epson as well. I also use a Canon Pro 10. Possible disclaimer: I have a small museum of Canon cameras dating back to the Canon TL that was my high school graduation present... ;-)
 


For at least some Epson printers, the "diaper" can be changed (at high cost) and the firmware reset to allow continued printing. You can also find online kits that divert the excess ink to a bottle outside of the printer. I did this several years ago with an Epson 1400. There was an Epson utility for resetting the printer, but it was only available for Windows. The amount of ink that went to the bottle was pretty shocking!
My (now retired) Canon i9100 actually gave a specific error code that the "diaper" was saturated. The replacement was neither particularly expensive nor difficult (but, yes, it was a good thing I did it outside... ;-) I got a few more years out of it. I honestly don't know how my Pro 10 handles this.
 


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