Are there any well designed printers?

Hey guys,

Thinking of doing a few concepts of how I think a consumer printer should look and work. More or less every printer I’ve used has frustrated me.

Wondering if you’ve come across any market products or concepts that are decent?

Welcome to commodity hell.

Considering how complex printers are, I think a lot of them are designed and engineered well but could use a redesign of the user interface. Often settings between the computer and the printer have to match exactly to have a successful print, and it would be nice to tell a printer what your end product is instead of juggling the settings to reach your desired print. Most of my frustrations are from the large laser printers at the office, but our new Ricoh is pretty nice, when there’s a jam it clears the paper into a lower bin for removal.

Im interested on your printing pain points? care to share?

I have been designing printers for 10 years now, I started from consumer printers and now moving to business ‘big’ printers.

We closed down our consumer printers because its not working well with our business strategy. And the smart phones and digital age has got to do a lot on that.

There are a lot of factors on creating a printer…cost is the #1 factor. So, even if how good your idea, but the cost of manufacturing is very expensive… it will just be turned down. Unless your company is willing to really gamble on the red sea of printers.

You can check some of the concept/production printers in the net.

Aside from the commodity hell, I’ve had no issues with my consumer hardware, other than that it doesn’t seem to be built as well as it used to. I’ve got an HP all in 1 and recently threw away an Epson all in 1 (couldn’t stop it from streaking no matter how much I tried to clean the heads). But the UI of both was straight forward and easy to use with a little touch screen.

On the low end, regular printers don’t need much of a UI since everything gets handled through software.

This came up on my blog reader awhile ago.

the guys always seem to do a good job reviewing things.

I like your work @neilsondesign. SWYP and that Lexmark retractable printer are really nice!

Looking at the following areas/pain points


  1. Proprietary cartridges
  2. The experience of the user wishing to print something from a device (connectivity, interface opportunities etc)

3) Jams
4) Speed
5) Noise & Vibration
6) Print Quality
7) Build Quality, Materials
:sunglasses: Nozzle cleaning, servicing
9) Sustainability
10) Aesthetics

Havn’t looked at anything in too much detail yet. With regard to the two primary pain points, I think

  • it would be interesting to see what happened if someone started working on an open source standard for ink cartridges.
  • use of bluetooth instead of wifi might be a lot more straightforward for home printers?

Just some thoughts:
-Most printer companies are only able to stay in business because they sell ink. The margins on a printer are basically non-existant, the hope is you own a printer long enough to make money back on ink. As mentioned, commodity hell (just think of the free cell phone). If you were to change the business model would people be willing to spend more on a device that took “open” ink?

-Regarding connectivity, make sure you do an audit on what exists already. If you are thinking about user experience, does Wifi necessarily change anything? Or is it just another radio technology? Both implications involve some type of software installation, setup, and configuration or pairing. Wifi works well because it is longer range, and means you can print things from anywhere as long as you have network access. I can print stuff at home from work if I need to.

  1. Epson Tank system did a good job on this.
    For the past few years, a lot of people (at least from our side of the planet) convert their printers into continuous ink systems to lessen ink costs. Consumer printers are easily hack with fake cartridges, thus making it easy for individual to use an unofficial ink cartridges.

As mentioned of @cyberdemon, printer companies stay in business because of supplies/ink. Because of the need to save cost on printing, one printing companies (Epson) thought of making a profit on the hardware instead.
Epson is earning through the hardware (not the supplies or ink) with the introduction of the e first ink tank system printer a couple of years ago, it gives a low cost of continuous ink system without the hassle of conversion and voiding warranties.

With this, you have the freedom to refil it with cheaper ink.

2) There are tons of innovation related to this, wherein you can directly print to the device. Airprint is one of the examples.
Again, having a cool- wide- user interface comes with a lot of $$$. You need to consider the memory, touchscreen components etc.

Consumers are accustomed in using iPhone or Andriod devices, they are expecting also to have the same feel in your printer UI.

How could you not mention the best printer scene in movie history?


My $0.02 cents…

At Uni (early 00’s) I had an Epson Stylus xxxxxxxxx something. A4 size, CMYK, £200. OK, A3 would have been preferable, but the quality and colour reproduction was superb, completely regardless of cost.

My employer now has an A3 equivalent, with at least 7 colours. Complete overkill, and completely not necessary.

impractical/sexy as hell.

Artefact did a solid job rethinking the printing UX a while ago.