Turning Your Printer Into A Paper Shredder (On Purpose)


Laser printers are infamous for shredding papers instead of printing them. But what about turning your printer into a high-volume paper shredder - on purpose?

The genesis of our project was the all-too-common "paper jam" ID10T error on a printer at a rapidly growing software firm that my good friend Mike owns. He also has a mountain of sensitive documents that seems to grow as quickly as his business, piling up next to his paper shredder.

Generally speaking, small business owners are not always technically inclined and are unaware that their laser printer can run too hot. After several attempts to use a new special plastic-based paper, feeding in sheet after sheet and not getting a single sheet returned, Mike then realized there might be a problem. Upon closer inspection several pages of this special paper had melted in the printer and completely destroyed it: The ultimate "paper" jam.

About the same time I decided to see if I could find an automatic bulk paper shredder solution for him. Sure enough I was able to find some options, but they ranged from $3,000 - $12,000. Obviously that wouldn't do for the creative-minded geek. So after some brainstorming and a lightning strike or two, I had the idea to modify the remnants of the laser printer to fill the role.

As this was going to be a volume-based solution, we needed a robust and well-built paper feed mechanism, and a solid feed rate. Xerox has built its reputation on the quality and performance of its printers. Of course, with a reputation like that, what self respecting modder wouldn't jump at the opportunity to apply a personal spin to it?