Old photocopiers: source of small parts, servos, bearings, belts

Discussion in '3D Printing' started by Mark's castings, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. If you are thinking of building your own small CNC engraver or 3D printer and need various shafts, oillite bushes, ball bearings, servo motors, timing belts, pulleys, screws and other bits and pieces for free, then read on:

    I need some small timing belts and pulleys for a project and McMaster Carr doesn't ship to Australia these days. Looking around online, I see some local suppliers want around $30 for a 25mm aluminium timing pulley and have a 50 day lead time to supply it. So after a bit of thought, I asked a local copier company if they had any old copiers I could scrounge parts off. It turns out these days they have to send them off to E-waste recycling and they had 3-4 big machines waiting to send off to recycle that they were happy to let me rob for parts. Now the old copiers I worked on 20 years ago were analogue machines with a single main motor driving the entire machine through a system of belts or chains and electromagnetic clutches to activate the relevant part of the machine. These days they have done away with that method and use servos scattered throughout the copier to individually drive parts of the machine.

    At any rate I had a good assortment of mainly Gates Kevlar timing belts which were found mostly in the document feeder and the collator unit rather than the copier, the other parts like servo motors were just in the way of getting the belts out so I put them aside while disassembling the Toshiba copier. These small parts look like new and haven't been touched since assembly, best of all they are free.

    Feeling lucky with this score, I decided to push my luck and asked a local engineering company if they had any drops of stainless steel bar used for making boat prop shafts they could sell me (usually better machining than 316 alloy). The foreman was about to hand me some 2" diameter bar when he paused and looked me in the eye and said "Are you a Yachtie?". The receptionist looked over the counter at me nervously and once I denied being a yachtie, he handed me the 10" length of bar and said "It's free for you, if you were a yachtie it'd be $100". Obviously too many down on their luck sailors have stiffed his company for services rendered before sailing out of harbour late at night, never to be seen again.

    timing belts.jpg small parts.jpg prop shaft drop.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  2. Petee716

    Petee716 Gold Banner Member

    Copiers are a good souce of rods too, usually chrome or stainless. A 36" analog (dry toner) "blueprint" copier was one of my latest victims. I got a pretty good selection of standard diameters out of it.
    I'm not crafty enough to make use of the servo motors but there are good old fashioned dumb electric motors in there too. The one driving my laminator rerolling contraption came out of a large capacity paper tray from one of my older copiers complete with the gear set.

    I use a remote controlled dimmer (about $4 including shipping on eBay from China) as a speed controller for the 24v motor.
    Unfortunately the nylon worm gear has given up the ghost so I'm just going to replace the whole kit with a 24v all metal gear motor. It worked great for awhile though!

    Mark's castings likes this.
  3. Servos have a bit of a learning curve to use but it's well worth it, as a general rule they have two to four coils that just have to be activated in the right sequence to rotate forward or reverse. It'll take some digging to find a standalone stepper driver board that will give you a forward/reverse switch and a knob for speed but they are out there.

    Most of the rods I've salvaged are chrome plated free machining steel, something like 12L14, it machines just like brass.....beautiful stuff. There's so much useful small hardware in these machines you'd really need a day or two to strip one down fully, that haul of parts was from just one copier and it's accessories. I didn't have time to strip the other two at all.
  4. Ironsides

    Ironsides Silver

    Do you have hard rubbish collections in your area? Melbourne has so many and usually there is at least one copier to scavange parts of. I have collected so many of those shafts and yes they are so soft to machine. If you want to test if they are chrome plated run a file on the shiny part, if it scratches it is not chrome plated. Try running a file on a hydraulic ram, it will just bounce off leaving no marks. Chrome plating leaves a very hard wearing surface.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
  5. I have heard of these wonderous, semi mythical "Rubbish Collection days". We do have a pretty good recycle shop at the council dump that has the occasional bargain: I'm actually painting a couple of heavy duty microfiche cabinets complete with steel trays in them, they'll make a great toolbox mounted on a steel frame with heavy duty castors.
  6. Petee716

    Petee716 Gold Banner Member

    We used to call it "big junk day", and would happen a couple times a year. It was a scrappers bonanza. I've picked up furniture for my various apartments on those days back in leaner times. The push mower I've been using for the past 13 years came off the side of the road. The wise homeowner would sort their load out by the street because when a picker comes by they will leave your pile less than tidy.
    Now at least around where I live outside of Buffalo, NY they have more frequent "white item" days where they'll pick up appliances on a regular rotating schedule instead of bi-annual big junk. Although they'll still pick up small engine items and other bulky items on those days, e-waste is not allowed. They announce special drop off events for that stuff. Previously they only worried about televisions and CRTs, but now it includes pretty much all of it. It would be rare to see a copier by the road. It sounds like Mark's take what you leave and leave the rest arrangement is a great deal.


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