Printers are the most popular object of destruction in America's Rage Rooms. There's a problem with that.

Originally published at: Printers are the most popular object of destruction in America's Rage Rooms. There's a problem with that. | Boing Boing


I disagree that the reason people want to smash printers is “toxic chemicals.” I’m an IT Admin, and I guarantee you that people want to smash printers because they SEEM simple - just File> Print from a computer - but it is NEVER that simple! Even if you actually get a print, sometimes it just doesn’t look like you expect. I was there at the beginning of What You See Is What You Get (wysiwyg) on Macintosh with the first ImageWriters circa 1985, and you’d think all of this has gotten stupid easy, but it hasn’t. Don’t even get me started on Fiery print servers: possibly the least straightforward software/systems people have to interact with.


Other than removing the drum and toner, what’s more environmentally dangerous about a smashed printer than an unsmashed printer? Presuming that the smash house takes the remains to the same place that all environmentally conscious consumers take their dead printers, that is.


“Toxic chemicals” are not why people want to smash up printers. They are why smashing up printers is dangerous.


Obligatory, even if it was mentioned in the article.


Oh, duh. I read “Why do Americans loathe printers so much they’re paying actual money to hit them with sledgehammers? So many reasons, say smashers.” followed immediately by “The problem is simple enough: printers are full of nasty, toxic chemicals.” as the reason why people preferred smashing the printers.

I mean, I guess polystyrene dust mixed with carbon and other pigments as would typically be found in toner-based laser printers is bad for you. I think it’s worse when the printers fuse the powder to paper, probably offgassing styrene in the process. And for inkjet printers, inks are mostly pigments in various solvents, so solvents probably not that great for you depending what they are.


My favourite from The Thick of It:

ETA: In the Loop, not The Thick of It


Oh! Oh! New vertical market! Obkects that closely resemble printers but without any toxic chemicals or expensive elements associated with phones or computers!
Hey, entrepreneurs! No need to thank me, the world will thank you!



When I lived in California, I remember warning signs in Starbucks that said California has determined that what this store is selling is toxic. Not sure if the verbiage is exact and I believe the same signs were at Peets, so not Starbucks specific…

Point is, California says lots of things are toxic that people like to consume on the regular.

I haven’t wanted to smash a printer in a long while, but I admit the printer smashing was my favorite scene in Office Space. Next to Michael Bolton getting the rounding thing wrong. I’ve been coding for over 40 years, and I still have to check the manual when asked to round to a hundred thousandth! Just had to do that today, in fact.

SAS round function is my friend. :heart:


Have you ever had to clean one of these out? They get gunked over with paper dust and toner residue through the machine - taking the toner/ink out isn’t going to make them really safe - that said this presumably would be fixed by asking someone to wear a mask and pointing out the danger.

1 Like

Regular print servers are annoying enough :wink:

I once got so frustrated with a job that wouldnt clear from a windows print spool that I just re-installed the os on my homes smb print server and gave it a new name/ip. I almost re-imaged my laptop I was so frustrated :joy:


Knowing that after creating a document I need to print it, almost puts me off writing it in the first place… After all these years, shouldn’t they just bloody work?!?!?!

The frustration is real:

“A problem of type 2094 has occurred - what the fuck is that!”


The damn bleed edge on a Mac pdf print still makes me absolutely furious. Print to the edge of the paper, Mac!

1 Like

Taking their killer and planet out with them is perfectly in character for printers. They’re spiteful, nasty, petty creatures.


I think the big take-away for me here is that ‘rage room’ and ‘smash room’ are dumb names and they should be called maybe ‘Break Rooms’ for like work related bashing and ‘Wreck Rooms’ for the more fun and games type destruction.


… it’s all true though :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

If I was going to smash a printer, it would be an inkjet, and it would be empty – because that shit is crazy expensive.


I feel like it’s true in a tangential way. Like when all the Christmas lights have prop 65 warnings because of lead or potentially phthalates. The list of everyday objects that you can come in contact with that potentially have phthalates is fairly long. Growing up I used leaded fishing weights and I still have leaded solder on my workbench. At a certain point when everything you buy has a prop 65 warning on it the whole thing becomes noise you tune out.

A printer you plan to smash up has residue in it…then wear a mask? How often are people visiting a rage room? If you have made it a weekly thing there might be some deeper issues to work on? Or perhaps try a contact sport… Point being I think the customer probably has less exposure over time to what’s left in the printer than the workers who are cleaning up the room everyday.

I’m pretty sure living everyday is bound to kill you at some point.


Favourite hack of the (pictured) HP4 was to change the display to “INSERT COIN”.