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Formatter board problems (and an explanation on why they fail so often) ¶ 

The HP P2015 series is prone to formatter board failures, and is a regular occurrence on this printer. The chances of the printer suffering from this problem increase as the printer ages and receives regular use.

How to identify a formatter board failure:

Note: This is not a complete list of failure modes that point to a failed formatter board. The printer can fail in such a way that is different from the common failure patterns or fail in one of the common, easy to diagnose conditions. Some failures may have other potential causes that are not formatter board related as well.

  • Stuck on lights
  • False jam errors
  • NIC failure (if you have a network enabled model)
  • Computer connection problems (this can also be caused by the cable or printer driver. Try to reinstall the printer driver and replace the offending cable before treating it as a bad formatter board).

Is there a way to fix it?

NO. Even the replacement boards die the same way as your original board likely did. HP likely no longer makes the part as well, so you are stuck buying a used board that's likely a ticking time bomb waiting to fail like your previous board.

It is better to consider the printer a total loss when this failure comes up, as there is no reliable fix that permanently repairs the defect. Any repair that stands to be permanent is going to cost more to implement then the printer and formatter boards are worth.

Why does this printer fail so much?

The primary reasons for failure appear to be related to 3 problems:

  • Lead free solder

These printers use first generation lead free solder, which is not very good when compared to 60/40 solder. The solder expands as it heats up, and contracts when it cools down. Over time, this damages the solder under the BGA chips on the formatter board.

Because it is very likely to be a chip level failure, there is no way to reliably reball or reflow the formatter board in a permanent way. Once these printers fail, they become a losing battle to keep alive, to the point it is going to be in your best interest to replace it and move on. Not being able to repair the printer permanently plus the cost to do it is likely to be a large deterrent from seeing a permanent solution to the problem.

  • Lack of heatsinks

HP did not use heatsinks on the processor or NIC chip on the printers from the factory. This means the heat stays within the chips and continue to build up heat. Being a 2007 printer, this design was doomed from the start. It isn't as much of a problem on the more modern LaserJet printers as the newer processors do not get anywhere near as hot as the parts in the p2015 series do, which is why you can get away with doing it on the modern models, starting from machines like the p2055 series.

If your printer hasn't failed yet, put a stick on heatsink on the processor and NIC, primarily. These two chips are the most likely to fail, so putting a heatsink on these can help you improve the odds of the printer not failing due to a faulty formatter board.

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