I bought an HP all-in-one laser printer unit with a color scanner from a big-box office supply chain. It was $500, which was a bunch of money for me, but I figured it would be the last printer I would ever have to buy. This unit was marketed for office use, and I was only going to be using it occasionally at home.
I used it for about a month before I sold my house and moved. It sat in the box at the new house for almost a year before I needed it. It worked for about a month, and then it would just freeze up. Re-booting helped for a while, and then it stopped working all together.
It still had 75 percent of the original toner left in it. I had printed no more than 100 pages, and it was junk. HP suggested the problem was a “bad” formatter board. The replacement cost was several hundred dollars since the warranty had expired. HP suggested I purchase a re-conditioned unit.
I searched online and quickly found numerous examples of HP equipment that had failed similarly. While reading a blog on HP’s own site, I found one comment about removing the formatter board, unsoldering the battery, baking the board in the oven (8 minutes at 350°F), and then re-installing.
Since it was clear I wasn’t going to get any help from HP -– and I was otherwise stuck with a $500 doorstop -– I figured I’d try it. It worked!
I found the most reasonable explanation of the root cause of the failure in two blogs that I came across. One said there was a cold-solder joint somewhere on the formatter board. The other blog suggested that, since RoHS had just come along requiring that lead be removed from solder, the soldering process was temperamental. Apparently, lead-free solder was beyond the capabilities of HP’s low-cost suppliers.
I even rescued an HP printer from the dumpster at work and brought it back to life with the “take-n-bake” fix. If you do a Google search today for failed HP formatter boards, you’ll find many people having success baking their boards. Apparently, HP still hasn’t cracked this nut.
This entry was submitted by Rick Giallombardo and edited by Rob Spiegel
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