Don’t Waste eWaste: UnMaking a Canon Printer/Scanner/Fax into Parts
Before you make something it is helpful to unmake something. This guide will show you that eWaste should never be thrown away until you gut it for the good stuff. What good stuff, you ask? How about DC motors, stepper motors, power supplies, gears, etc.?
This guide will unmake a Canon printer/scanner/fax into Maker resources. We are mainly going for the motors but so much more will come out of this eWaste. The principles and techniques here apply to unmaking most fabricated electronics … a Phillips screwdriver is about as complicated a tool as you will need … and something to pry with! Remember that most products are made by robotics or unskilled labor that needs to be able to snap and assemble pieces onto a moving stream of work in progress … nothing fancy is involved in the assemblage once 10,000 engineers figure out all the parts involved.
This is a multi-function machine so we will have a printer, a scanner (copier & fax), and miscellaneous paper trays and feeds. Should be lots of parts.
Take apart the machine in chunks that are managable and make sense (printer, scanner, paper tray, etc.). Work on each section before breaking down the next. Try to keep things separated in trays as you work instead of lumping them into a pile.
Get rid of the messy stuff! If the eWaste still has toner or ink cartridges bag them up and dispose of them at a recycling center (or mail them to one). Any other messy bits need to be cleaned before tearing down.
Look for screws and tab connections. The basic idea is to remove any screws you can find - see if parts come off - if not, look for things to pry off.
Now that the screws are out we try to separate the tray into smaller bits - but we can't .... it's "stuck." What we have here, children, are hidden tabs and snap points that hold this puppy together. Time to get out the trusty flathead screwdriver or mom's best dinner knives (maybe not) and start poking and prying the plastic seams apart.
You might want to put on safety glasses if you tend to really pry things apart. If you can remain calm you should be able to pry them open with no war wounds.
Now that we have pried open the tray we look for more screws - and find them! You know the drill ... take 'em out and store in the "salvaged screws" jar.
Okay .... now we are in business. Now that the paper tray is a bit more exposed - you might say naked - we can see what treasures it offers.
I see a motor ... not just a basic DC motor but a stepper motor (multiple wires). I actually expected this since a paper feed tray has to be able to grab the paper, feed it in 'til sensors tell it to stop, a little alignment, etc. That is the work of a stepper motor.
See the screws? Remove the screws! But you might want to leave the motor attached to the metal bracket until you use them in a future project - you might use both motor and bracket together.
There be gears in them there hills!! Okay, maybe not hundreds but enough to keep and use later. I've never met a bad gear ... even the plastic ones have hope of reuse.
What have we learned about screws? You know the routine - show those screws who really wields the screwdriver in your house - let them mingle with their fellow friends in the salvage jar.
See that funny gear with the tab sticking out of it? The tab near the notch? The tab that can be moved away from the notch? That is the tab that you move when you want to remove the SS (stainless steel) rod that is attached to the gear... the gear with the tab... the tab near the notch...
Okay - Pop Quiz Time. Remember the gear in the last step? The gear with the tab? The tab next to the notch? The tab that moves to release the SS rod from its mounting point? Well this is the backside of that gear ... that gear with the tab ... the tab near the notch that it moves away from.
Now we see the SS rod removed from its mounting point all because of a gear ... a gear with a tab ... a tab - oh, forget it.
Now we can see what the motor and gears and rods were all there for ... to feed paper from up top to underneath. Here are the electronics that it used. These are paper-out sensors and top-of-page sensors. Keep them for future use.
See any screws - take 'em out. See any tabs - un-tab 'em. Remove anything removable. Continue at your own pace.
Here are some of the major pieces off the paper feed tray. Cherish and fondle 'cause they are yours and free for the dismantling
Take a break - get some water - clear your head and walk around. Why, you ask? Because we are about to delve into more dismantling of this Canon and we don't want you to pass out on us - so get refueled and report back for duty ASAP!
Okay - Back to the printer carcass. Look for all visible screws and remove them, but most of those are probably hidden behind snapped-on plastic panels. Let's pry off those panels ... no need to be gentle.
There are tabs that need to be pried open. Luckily they are not so hidden and marked with an arrow (not an X) ... you can see them in the pics of the side panels removed ... go ahead and pry them open.
Almost ready to shed the plastic shell ... a couple of things holding it together ... so on with another step.
Sometimes things are not so easy. Here we have lovely gears to get to but they are in the proximity of the whole ink pump / head cleaning station that holds nothing but a mess. Old ink and tubes with crud, etc. So tread lightly through this inky quagmire.
You see the motor? That is a stepper motor and makes this whole teardown worth it. That baby is gold!
The scanner unit travels back and forth, to and fro, here and there along a small rail system they built into the plastic housing. This is cheap and the scanner head lifts out easily. So do most of the wires and hardware in this unit. Tale out what you can.
Now take a screwdriver out and get to the motor. Try to remove the whole unit and leave intact for now.
Usually I leave these things intact until I know what I want to do with them. Often they are best kept as a unit 'cause you can get rid of the ink cartridge and replace it with something else to be controlled on an X-axis with the motor.
Yes .... a motor ... the real treasure in this unit.
Often a little plastic strip is attached to a small tab ... it pulls off easily.
We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish.