What to do with a broken brother?

Hello Ironbloggers, I’m happy to be part of the beer-blogging adventure! Thanks a lot for the new deadline on Monday night.

In my first post I’d like to ask for your DIY help and suggestions. I know there are some English speaking DIYers among the Ironbloggers, so it’s in English.

It’s about my Brother. My Brother is broken and has been sitting in my office for a while now. Useless and with no real functionality left. I just don’t know what to do with it. I’ve given up trying to print, copy or scan. At some point, I forgot about it. Then I read Michelle’s post on „Smart Garbage„, and it all came back.

So here’s the whole story: I bought my Brother printer about, I think, two to three years ago. The model is a DCP-385C. Installed it, used it, all was fine. But then I was away for a while and I thought (which I now realize, was stupid) I’d just turn it off so it doesn’t keep sucking power while I’m away. Sustainability, right?

The thing about this printer though, is that it needs electricity all the time to clean itself. It’s like a little human being, it cannot live without constant energy flowing through its printer veins, even when it’s in hibernation. It needs to stay clean, and for that it needs power. If it’s on electricity, it cleans itself – I guess it’s the „cartridge head“, where the cartridges are attached, but I’m not quite sure. If the printer doesn’t get power, that part can dry up. That is, possibly, what happened to the black color and broke the printer.

Admittedly I didn’t act very smart, good intentions of saving energy aside. When I wanted to restart it six months into hibernation, it did not print black anymore. I found out about it’s hygiene routine and how I had cut the Brother off the life-saving energy it needs. But fact is, now I have a big broken printer, a shiny, almost-new high-tech device, and it doesn’t work. It’s basically electronic waste, even though most of the parts are ok.

I did not want to give up on it yet. I went to a printer shop where they refill the colour cartridges. I asked them if it was possible to repair my brother, but they said „Nobody does that nowadays anymore“. No. What you do nowadays, is, you buy a device, that uses materials from all over the world, the work of people who put it together, the energy of producing, transporting, advertising and merchandising it, with all the environmental and social impact attached – and when it breaks, you throw it away and you buy a new one. It’s so much cheaper!

The people at the printer shop did have one more idea. They filled the cartridge with a cleaning liquid, and told me to print a couple of papers with it. Unfortunately, the medicine didn’t help my Brother. It remained broken. That’s the point where I gave up, about a year or so ago. It was maybe a little early for that – but I was tired of the issue and had other stuff to do.

One important thing that I haven’t tried yet is to ask the manufacturer. If I try to explain why, I tell myself it’s because I’ve tried that in other cases, which has turned out to be frustrating. Once I wanted to get a broken digital camera fixed and it was so difficult to find a workshop that offered to repair that brand. And yes, just making the attempt to fix it – no guarantees that it would work – would have been almost as expensive as a new camera with a better resolution.

So I think I should probably contact Brother and see what they say. Or maybe I can do it myself?

iFixit has advice for a similar printer by the same manufacturer with a similar problem. I have hardly ever taken devices apart. I don’t want to make the problem worse. Anyways, I would like to fix this and then make it a manual for other people to use. Does anyone of you have experience with repairing electronics who can help? That would be awesome.

The main point is, though: I’m really angry that the industry prioritizes more sales over our need for sustainable, repairable products. I want smart products, that don’t need to become garbage so quickly. Products that don’t depend on being constantly on energy. Products that can be repaired easily. Products that can be upgraded to the next level of technology without throwing away what can still be used. They could be modular, and there should be workshops everywhere so we can go and repair our machines and not turn them into e-waste that ends up in some suburb of Accra.

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