Printer service call labor costs vs. doing the work yourself

Seth Griffin

New Member
I'm not the owner of the company, I just handle the graphics, RIP, printing, and transfer (dye sublimation) parts. I'm not a money person at all.

We have two Roland SJ-1045EX printers that have been converted to using dye sublimation inks (on paper - image quality seems better than direct printing). Due to the current plague, business has slowed down. ...Which, of course, means that one of the printers took a **** and died. It needs a new scan motor, and two heads replaced. We're getting quoted $850/head, about $900 for the scan motor, 6 hours of labor to replace parts and align the new heads at $150/hr., and a flat service call fee; the total is around $3600. (Full retail on a DX4 head is $799, and prices online range from $524 - $795.)

I have the service manual (thanks to the people that posted links!), and the head replacement and alignment looks pretty straightforward; the only thing I need is a torque screwdriver. (We have spare caps, dampers, etc., and I can't imagine that we would need to replace a pump assembly right now.) The scan motor replacement is even easier; it's a drop-in part. But my boss is very resistant to the idea of me doing the labor, despite it being at least a $900 saving on labor alone.

So, first question: if doing the labor myself a good idea or a bad idea?

And the followup is, if it's a good idea, are there any strategies to convince my boss that it's a good idea?


its a GREAT idea! especially if you're slow due to shut-down, and an added bonus that you're further limiting your shop to exposure from outside elements.

just keep in mind, that you can always do more harm than good if you simply start ripping things apart.
treat it like a computer, that bleeds. power-down/discharge and remember that dampers drip, and ribbon cables WILL channel ink down into electrical components. (ruined my first printhead install this way)

i've broken-down and rebuilt my wide format many times over the years for misc repairs, mostly printhead replacements. easily $20k worth of billable service hours alone if you also consider how many times I WOULD have called a tech for service but managed to diagnose/remedy simple issues that seemed more complicated than they actually were.

almost a shame I run an HP Latex now.... nearly every serviceable part is a plug&play. printheads swap out like a desktop printer. I've since turned my gaze out to the shop, and now do all the service work on our CNC router. lol


DIY Printer Fixing Guide
As someone who make s living off selling parts to people for DIY printer repairs, I can tell you that most people work on their machines at least a little. I have some customers who do all of their own repairs, some who do the easy stuff and leave the hard stuff to the techs, and I would say only about 5% of my customers completely rely on a tech. As stated above, turn the machine off and let it discharge for 15 minutes before working on it and make sure when you plug electrical components in that they are on tight and straight before powering back on.Those two things get rid of 90% of the problems.


Very Active Signmaker
If you're adept to that kind of thing then do it. I worked on our Roland many times, almost often with always with success. Only thing I didn't do was the head change. It wasn't my $$ that I was spending and I didn't want the pressure to handle something I never did before so I told the boss to call in a pro.


Prints stuff
We done most of our maintenance work on our own with the mimaki. Got so say though, with the service contract on the Colorado it’s nice phoning someone the minute there’s any problems lol.

If you can do the work, do it. Especially if there’s not much else going on. I found initially I recorded myself taking everything apart so I could reverse engineer it if necessary lol


Active Member
Its easy to do, the manual will walk you right through it. I wouldn't worry about a torque screwdriver just don't over tighten

Jim Hill

Keep in mind that if you change the scanner motor you should also install a new encoder strip and sensor at the same time.

I enjoy fixing my printer just make sure you have all of the needed parts before you start.
Changing heads is the easiest part of the job but calibrating the heads can take a few hours if this is your first time doing it.

Things like new dampers, cap tops, and things like that are easy to do yourself.

Are you printers out of warranty because if they are not that might void your warranty from Roland.
Roland Techs are sometimes told that if they think someone else has worked on the printer who was not Roland Certified they should not preform any repairs to the printer.

Just some things to keep in mind before you start.

Best of luck. Jim


youtube is your friend, watch and watch again to get an idea of what you are supposed to be doing.

we have a gear head, and he LIVES for a chance to tinker.
I have watched him fully disassemble and re-assemble in a matter of hours.

starting off he set up a GoPro and recorded EVERYTHING, so he knew where it all when putting it back together.
Also, make sure you have LOTS of small containers, keep ALL screws and small pieces seperated and grouped from where you took it from