[Breaking Down Samsung's Printer] "Looks Like a PS3" [Part 3]

Nov 22, 2007
Nikkei Electronics Breakdown Team
Samsung Electronics' "SCX-4501K" multifunction laser printer. Dimensions are 162.3 (h) x 332 (w) x 393mm (d).
Samsung Electronics' "SCX-4501K" multifunction laser printer. Dimensions are 162.3 (h) x 332 (w) x 393mm (d).
[Click to enlarge image]
A laser unit was housed in the upper unit of the printer. Laser beam is radiated from a transparent window framed with sponge.
A laser unit was housed in the upper unit of the printer. Laser beam is radiated from a transparent window framed with sponge.
[Click to enlarge image]
An enlarged view of the operation board. An LED display is set on the top.
An enlarged view of the operation board. An LED display is set on the top.
[Click to enlarge image]
The display showed "OPEN" when the toner cartridge box was opened.
The display showed "OPEN" when the toner cartridge box was opened.
[Click to enlarge image]

In mid November 2007, a number of engineers gathered at some place in Tokyo to break down Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's "SCX-4501K" multifunction laser printer.

Quite many more engineers than usual participated in this breakdown project. This was because a multifunction printer contains a range of technologies to evaluate, including a printer, a scanner, control circuits, optical and mechanical systems and toner cartridges.

The engineers could be heard expressing opinions like "It looks like the PlayStation 3 (PS3)," "It's designed like an appliance" and "It looks like a piano" as they looked at the multifunction printer.

The shiny black chassis and the slimness that Samsung highlights as the product's major attraction drew the engineers' interest at a breath. The height is only 162.3mm. It would have come as no surprise if it had been an inkjet printer based on a simple mechanism, but in fact, it was a surprisingly slim laser printer housing a complicated mechanism.

An engineer suggested that, "It looks like Samsung insisted on the slim body to enable office workers to use it on their desks, without even mentioning the attractive design."

How did Samsung make it so thin? Although they were to break it down later, the engineers began to touch the printer in an attempt to discover its secret. After a while, someone exclaimed, "Who would have expected to find it here!" He discovered the light source's laser unit on the upper part of the printer.

With the paper outlet dividing the printer chassis, the scanner of the SCX-4501K is located primarily in the upper part and the printer is in the lower part. Did this architecture contribute to its thin design?

Heavy Use of Blue LEDs

What interested the engineers next were the capacitance type operation buttons. OA equipment such as multifunction printers frequently employ silicone rubber buttons whereas the SCX-4501K adopted capacitance type buttons. It appears that the company chose such buttons to get rid of button projections and increase design uniformity.

The operation board featured another distinction. It's heavy use of blue LEDs instead of an LCD panel as an information display. The printer indicates the state of operation, an alert and other information with each of the blue LEDs lighting in combination.

One of the engineers opened and closed the toner cartridge box again and again in order to make the printer display an alert and see how the LED display changes.