This is the first of a series of teardowns I'm looking to document. These are both for educational purposes (such as doing repairs yourself) and also for entertainment as I for one find teardowns very interesting. Since a young age I've always enjoyed taking things apart to see how they work, and it seems I haven't grown out of that. Here we'll look at what tools you'd need to take apart a LabelStation Pro200, how easy it is, and why you'd need to take it to pieces in the first place. The Pro200 is more or less the same as the Pro300 and their network attached equivalents. I'll point out any differences as I go along. The tools you'd need and a couple I would recommend to take the printer apart and put it back together again:
I'd like to make a recommendation that it's only worth opening and attempting to repair any or all of this printer if you absolutely have to. Attempting to repair your printer yourself will void your warranty of it and we cannot accept any responsibility for injury, damage and/or loss of assets. Please proceed with caution.
- Medium cross head screwdriver
- Large cross head screwdriver
- Medium flat head screwdriver
- Small wire cutters
- Long tweezers
- Anti-static wrist strap and a ground source
- Some small pots (to keep the screws in groups)
Here's a list of parts that are replaceable with their "how easy is it for a first timer
- Roller (super easy)
- Printhead (very very easy)
- Cutter (moderate)
- Peeler (moderate)
- Main board (moderate to difficult)
- Black mark sensor (difficult)
- Label guide gap sensor (difficult)
- Ribbon assembly (best leave it to us)
Don't be put off of buying a printer by looking at the above list, we're more than happy to do any and all repairs for you at a very reasonable price, but the likeliness of needing any replacements is very low as they are very low maintenance. The worst we see is one company who needs a new printhead and complete clean up every 6 months (the printer turns up fully coated inside and outside in a fine glass-like powder), and another company needs their cutter cleaning every 6 months or so because it's gundged up with adhesive from printing and cutting continuous media all day every day.
The printer photographed below is used by myself and my colleagues in our office for testing and for samples. This exact one is not for sale.
- Unplug any power, USB, parallel and/or serial cables from the printer. Remove any internal parts such as the roll and ribbon holders. No media should be left inside the printer while performing any further steps.
- Flip the printer upside down. Use the medium screwdriver to undo the two screws at the rear of the printer.
- Switch to the large screwdriver and undo the larger screw in the middle of the underside to release the little door. Keep the three screws from the underside in one pot.
- If you were installing or replacing a cutter, here is where the driver IC or "chip" will be situated. Note the notch on one end; this corresponds to the same notch on the IC. It's also worth noting the label that says which driver is required for that board.
- Flip the printer back to the correct way up or on its side. Open it and push the damper arm towards the rear of the machine, assisting the lid as it tends upwards, until the damper drops down. Halt the damper at this point and force the lid upwards until the damper arm pops free. You should now be able to open the lid to a full right angle.
- Remove the 6 screws to open the bottom half of the printer. Start at the rear to prevent damage to the casing. Keep all these screws in a new pot. Note the long screws at the rear of the printer and the short screws in the middle and front.
- If you have a peeler or cutter attached, now is the time to remove it. For the cutter, push it upwards to pop it out. Peelers pull outward in a similar fashion.
- Place the printer on its side to open the bottom half. Ground yourself using the anti-static wrist strap connected to earth through the mains or a computer case. Unplug the cables by pulling carefully near the plugs. Do not pull at an angle or pull the plugs themselves as this can damage the sockets and/or the board.
- There are four screws holding the main board. In the case of this networked version, there are three screws and a threaded pillar holding the main board and three screws holding the network board. Keeping these screws in new pot, undo the three network card screws, noting which ones went into the casing and which one went into the pillar. One of the screws will have a grounding wire; it's important to re-attach these wires to the original location when putting the printer back together.
This is the network board. It's really very simple. All the wires go to all the terminals in the RJ45 socket. Everything else is on the mainboard.
- By hand, undo the pillar, then continue undoing the remaining three screws from the main board with a screwdriver.
The bottom half is now completely disassembled.
- Looking at this board you can see it's fairly generic. There are variations that might require an on-board battery. There is a slot for an SD card if the on-board memory isn't sufficient; I have yet to see someone need this. There is a parallel and USB port for connecting to a computer and an RS-232 serial port for an external keyboard (no computer required). As much as the network attachment is a separate board, this main board is different between the network and non-networked models. This board is also different between the 200 DPI and 300 DPI models. This means that once you've got a model, for example a Pro 200, you can't upgrade it to a 300 DPI printhead nor can you add the network feature. Choose wisely when ordering.
- Back to the middle of the printer. There are two clips you need to squeeze to remove the roller. Pictures is me squeezing one side as my other hand is pressing the button a button to take the photo (I'll perfect this soon). Between the Pro200 and Pro300, this rollers vary in size but only by a small amount.
- Close the printer and flip it upside down again. There are 8 screws to undo to remove the motor, gear and clip assembly. There are also two grounding wires, one of which can now be completely removed from the loom.
I'm no expert on stepper motors but from the four wires, it looks like it's a three-step motor. It allows for varying speeds of 2 to 7 inches per second for quality adjustment. This whole assembly needs replacing should either of the two clips (to open the printer) become damaged. This very rarely happens and I've only seen this twice due to bad packaging when shipping the printers to us for other repairs/servicing.
- Back inside the printer, there are four screws holding the protective sheet for the sensors.
Once removed we see the underside of the label guide gap sensor and black mark sensor.
- One small screw holds the black mark sensor. Undo this to release the metal clip and remove the sensor from the other side.
- Looking closely at the sensor, it's a very simple unit that's easy to replace but I've never seen one fail.
- The label guide gap sensor is one of the most common things to fail but only through wear and tear or physical damage if you're heavy-handed. It's a little more tricky to replace. Start by undoing both the screws on the bar.
- Use tweezers to remove the grease-covered washer and keep it safe, free from dust and grit.
- Undo the two small screws on the underside of the sensor. Pull the board straight up to prevent damage to the two pins on the internal side.
- Pulling at an angle, remove the sensor from the other side through the larger hole at the end of the rail. In this example we'll remove both sides.
- Using tweezers again, remove the grease-covered cog and keep it with the washer.
- You'd never need to dismantle the sensor this much but here we see it's a little more complicated than what first meets the eye. When installing a replacement, it's worth noting that the two pins (that join the top and bottom halves together) are fragile and are sometimes a little tricky to put back in place.
Now to the very top half. We'll start by removing the printhead. This is one of the easiest things to replace and doesn't require any tools, which is a huge bonus, as these can die over time depending on what you're printing, printing on, where you're printing and how much you're printing. But mostly commonly these need replacing in the event of heavy handedness.
- Lift it firmly away from the casing.
- It will unclip.
- You can then pull the wire loom to remove the plug.
- Undo the six screws. This time they're all the same size.
- The top of the printer should now fall apart like this. Remove the cable we can see on the left.
- Once the cable is removed there's a small board with two screws.
- This board is very simple with a bicoloured LED and a mini push to make button switch.
- There are four screws holding the ribbon assembly in place.
- Once released, the anti-static carbon fibre bush is released. Don't forget to install this when putting it back together as static build-up from the ribbon could give you a nasty shock and should even damage your printer, computer or network.
Two screws hold a microswitch. This is the head-up sensor. It tells you and the printer when the lid isn't closed fully. For diagnostics purposes, this can be disabled in the DiagTool.
- Another two screws hold the ribbon sensor. This a proximity sensor that can see almost every colour of ribbon. We've found for some colours a label needs to be placed over the sensor to prevent a persistent error It defeats the whole purpose of the sensor but it's the only way. When most ribbons run out, they go to a clear strip which this sensor can't see, therefore stopping the print and giving an error until the ribbon is replaced.
- There's another grounding wire to undo.
I won't take it apart any more from here.
From this angle we can see the
in the centre. This is just a normal motor that isn't powerful but is enough to pull the ribbon through and wind it onto the
small circuit board
on the right is a slipping clutch with a spring. This spring-loaded clutch keeps the ribbon tight at all times as a crease in the ribbon will produce a failed print. Top left we see a
. This has a sensor on it to check if the used spindle moves at all. When the print first turns on, it does a check. If the spindle spins, there's a chance there's no ribbon installed so this mechanism won't function unless told otherwise. If it doesn't spin, there's probably a ribbon in place so it should function unless told otherwise.
That's the end of this teardown. The next teardown we'll have a look at the cutter unit of this printer.