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The repair data we publish from community repair events can be incredibly powerful. It can help us advocate for more repairable products and pro-repair policies. That’s why Repair Café International and partners founded the Open Repair Alliance in 2017.

Recently, our UK partner The Restart Project has launched “PrintCat”, a fun opportunity for everyone to get involved in analysing data on over 800 broken printers brought to Repair Cafes, Fixit Clinics and Restart Parties around the world.

We all know that printers can be frustrating, easy to break and hard to fix. We want to understand why printers fail so that we can tell policymakers how future models can be made easier to repair. Repair reduces waste and lessens the strain on our planet’s resources.

How you can get involved

Head over to PrintCat and join the investigation. You’ll be presented with information about a broken printer and you’ll be able to select the most appropriate fault from a comprehensive list.

PrintCat presents you with information about a broken printer. You can select the most appropriate fault from a comprehensive list.

Once you’ve selected an option, you’ll be presented with information on another printer. The more printer faults you can categorise, the more we learn! PrintCat shows each printer to three people to help confirm the right category. If you want to learn more, you can join a conversation about it.

Why printers, and why now

Until now, there’s not been any regulation on printers’ repairability. Since 2012, printers manufacturers have had a “voluntary agreement” at EU-level, aiming to “reduce the environmental footprint” of printers, and exempting them from formal regulation. Manufacturers are currently discussing a new version of the agreement, and the draft version we’ve seen is extremely weak on repair. If approved, manufacturers would not commit to make spare parts available for printers priced below € 350.

What we hope to achieve

Most printers brought to community repair events fit in this category, so we thought it would be worth exploring why they fail. The European Commission could reject the voluntary agreement proposed by the industry, and decide to develop regulations on printers.

We hope our findings will help make the case for more ambitious measures tackling repairability of printers.

And we also hope many people will enjoy contributing to PrintCat and learning more about why printers fail. Over the next few months, there will be more opportunities to analyse data collected at repair events. We’ll keep you posted!

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