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Why paper jams persist
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-02-13 00:22:50

Late in “Oslo,” J. T. Rogers’s recent play about the negotiation of the Oslo Accords, diplomats are finalizing the document when one of them reports a snag: “It’s stuck in the copy machine and I can’t get it out!” The employees in Mike Judge’s 1999 film “Office Space” grow so frustrated with their jam-prone printer that they destroy it with a baseball bat in a slow-motion montage set to the Geto Boys’ “Still.” (Office workers around the country routinely reënact this scene, posting the results on YouTube.) According to the Wall Street Journal, printers are among the most in-demand objects in “rage rooms,” where people pay to smash things with sledgehammers; Battle Sports, a rage-room facility in Toronto, goes through fifteen a week. Meanwhile, in the song “Paper Jam” John Flansburgh, of the band They Might Be Giants, sees the jam as a stark moral test. “Paper jam / paper jam,” he sings. “It would be so easy to walk away.”

Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. “It’s the ultimate challenge,” Ruiz said.

This is such a great read.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-23
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Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-13 01:19:03
It went out of style in the 90s, but the continuous feed paper that came from IBM's glory days seems to have been a valid solution to this problem decades ago. It was very commonly found in offices. Those old printers could guide/align the paper almost perfectly due to the fact that the perforated paper guide strips had no slippage.

Cash registers/atm machines use continuous paper without the guide strips and can print any length necessary. I think the main issue is that the paper is stored on a roll, which leaves it curled. Maybe the printer could iron it, haha.

Engineering aside, printing costs alot and produces tons of waste, businesses could probably save a great deal of money just by retooling and avoiding paper all together.
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RE: Continuous feed paper
By Doc Pain on 2018-02-13 04:03:52
> Engineering aside, printing costs alot and produces tons of waste, businesses could probably save a great deal of money just by retooling and avoiding paper all together.

Ah yes, the "paperless office", an utopia since the 1960's... Every year in our "modern" times, more and more stuff is being printed, taken a look at only once, and transferred into the wastebasket - and every year, it's more paper than the year before. Avoiding paper is possible in many settings, not everywhere of course, but still worth the effort. Sad thing of the whole story is: This effort will cost money and require a change of procedures in order to perform an improvement. This is something business will not accept (as any change is bad), so the printing costs will simply be passed all the way down to the final consumer of a product or a service.
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Missing first letter in quotation
By dungsaga on 2018-02-13 07:12:11
It's "Late", not "ate".
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RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-13 08:44:48
Doc Pain,

> Ah yes, the "paperless office", an utopia since the 1960's... Every year in our "modern" times, more and more stuff is being printed, taken a look at only once, and transferred into the wastebasket - and every year, it's more paper than the year before. Avoiding paper is possible in many settings, not everywhere of course, but still worth the effort. Sad thing of the whole story is: This effort will cost money and require a change of procedures in order to perform an improvement. This is something business will not accept (as any change is bad), so the printing costs will simply be passed all the way down to the final consumer of a product or a service.

Yeah, my wife works for a government office and I cringe at how much paper waste they produce there. Part of this is due to the fact that while they have email, they're only permitted to communicate with the outside world via fax and post office.

I met with a prospective client and it was the same deal: they receive faxes all day long which get printed, transcribed by a poor soul, and then shredded. In fact part of the reason I was there was to see if I could fix this. And you are right, they don't want to pay for a new system despite the fact that labor and material costs are burning through their pockets every day. I'm not sure if they're going to give me the job.
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confused
By danzan on 2018-02-13 08:54:52
Asian dog-ear, stripper fingers, flower arrangement...

What is this article really about?
Did the engineers go to a nightclub?
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RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
By kwan_e on 2018-02-13 10:46:45
> Every year in our "modern" times, more and more stuff is being printed, taken a look at only once, and transferred into the wastebasket

That paper gets recycled into toilet paper.

Perhaps we can reduce paper use in the office if we recycled the other way.
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RE: Continuous feed paper
By darknexus on 2018-02-13 12:56:41
They jammed up less, but when they did jam... well, let's just say, that is a test of moral character indeed. Ever seen one jam up where the paper actually falls down under the feeder and tears itself to shreds? Not fun at all! I still, to this day, have no idea how that one actually happened, but happen it did and on my watch too.
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RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
By Alfman on 2018-02-13 14:40:40
darknexus,

> They jammed up less, but when they did jam... well, let's just say, that is a test of moral character indeed. Ever seen one jam up where the paper actually falls down under the feeder and tears itself to shreds? Not fun at all! I still, to this day, have no idea how that one actually happened, but happen it did and on my watch too.

Interesting. I can see how a jam condition in a continuous feed printer could happen if the paper were torn or two sheets were stuck together before entering the printer. Otherwise the printer gears physically force the paper to enter and exit at the exact same rate, keeping it tight, so there aren't many opportunities for the paper to fold in on itself unless it's defective or incorrectly installed.

With the printer we had, it was possible to load up the paper misaligned, which could rip up a page, but I don't remember ever having a paper feed problem once correctly loaded. (There were different problems with the dot matrix print heads and ink ribbons though.) Our modern inkjet and laser printers have been more problematic with jamming.

If I had to guess the cause of jamming in my printer today, the papers rubbing on each other probably cause static cling and erroneously pulls in more than one sheet. Continuous feed paper didn't rub against itself like this.

Edited 2018-02-13 14:44 UTC
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this is a great read
By damp on 2018-02-13 15:01:13
This is a very well written story and i must say i enjoyed the read.

However it seems a little out of place here on osnews to me.
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RE[2]: Continuous feed paper
By Bill Shooter of Bul on 2018-02-13 16:13:06
I've never worked in a papered office (started working in 2000) If something needs to be printed, there is a 30 minute pause to figure out how to get the printer to work, and install printer drivers on the right machine. Its almost easier to have the print shop print them online and drive there to pick them up...
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