HP Tech@Work
Today's trends for tomorrow's business
HP’s brutal testing ground in Boise

HP’s brutal testing ground in Boise

Drops, shocks, heat, humidity and paper made of grass: Behind the scenes at the lab that makes sure HP printers lead the pack in real-world performance.

This article originally published in The Garage, June 7, 2018
Your HP printer is one of the luckier members of its family.
You seriously have no idea what its sibling had to go through before you were able to bring your printer home.
For starters, it was dropped from three feet off the ground onto a concrete floor, shocked 12,000 times with up to 12,500 volts and had a robot open and shut its paper tray hundreds of thousands of times in a row. It was even driven into a wall.
Why does HP put its new printer designs through such grueling tests before they’re cleared to join the manufacturing line? When you sell 60 printers every minute of every day in every corner of the world, there’s no telling what conditions the device may need to excel in.

Robots and rice paper

Like a Boy Scout, HP printers need to be prepared. To ensure that, the engineers at the company’s testing laboratory in Boise, Idaho, have constructed special robots; a cavernous, multimillion-dollar soundproof chamber; and special tools with high-resolution cameras that analyze whether or not the colored inks are being perfectly placed on the page.
“We have three words to live by,” explains Jim Reppell, a hardware test lab manager at HP, who helps run the Boise test lab. “We want to make sure our products are safe, legal and reliable.”
HP’s reliability tests include analyzing hundreds of brands of paper and running a vast variety of papers through its printers. The test printers gobble up 5 million sheets of paper a month, which, if stacked up, would be twice the height of the Empire State Building, Reppell is quick to explain.
These sheets go far beyond the pulp-based paper we’re used to seeing in North America. In Asia, paper can be made from grass or rice. In India, it may contain talc. All of these popular local variations have to be tested. “If you’re having a printing problem, customers never blame the paper,” Reppell notes with a laugh.

Bringing a dirt road in China back home

The test printers are also subjected to a punishing range of temperatures, from minus 30 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius. They’re exposed to the bitter, dry cold of Northern Canada and the heat and humidity of Southeast Asia. In the cold, static electricity can cause the pages to want to stick together, while in humid environments, printers have to be able to perform even when the paper becomes slightly soggy.
Then there are the vibration and drop tests.
Printers are released onto a concrete floor, mimicking the abuse they might suffer during shipping as they’re thrown into trucks or even onto your front step. A vibration platform then shakes them violently to simulate the ride they might expect in planes and trucks. HP engineers even traveled to particularly punishing dirt roads in China that the company’s shipments need to go down and measured their vibrations. Then they programmed those vibrations into their vibration test platform in Boise.
HP subjects the printers to the kind of debris they might encounter in places like loading docks or other dusty work environments.
“We know the products are going to be handled rather roughly when they leave our hands,” says Reppell. “We definitely keep the delivery guy in mind.”

Playing nice with the wireless spectrum

You probably didn’t know your printer must meet a slew of legal requirements, too, ranging from stability to fire safety. One important requirement is that the printers can’t interfere with other technologies, such as TVs, GPS or mobile broadband, that are running on parallel wireless spectrums.
To measure the printers’ effect on these radio- and television-wave frequencies, HP built a 60-by-45-ft. semi-anechoic chamber — essentially a metal box that isolates an inhabitant from any signal from the outside world. Super-sensitive radio receivers peppered throughout the chamber listen to the printer from a range of radio-wave frequencies to see if any of its components interfere with other wireless spectrums.
Printers also have to be able to handle randomly unusual electromagnetic charges, either from storms or run-of-the-mill surges in the electric grid. They can’t get damaged — or even jam up — if the power suddenly goes out and then comes back on during bad weather or a brownout.

Thank the zap map

Another essential test aims to prevent electrostatic shock — that little shock you might get when you touch something after walking across a rug in winter. HP engineers create what they call a zap map to test where people might be expected to touch the printer to make sure it isn’t seriously affected by the shock.
International standards require companies to test perhaps up to 6,000 volts, but HP tests up to 12,500 volts. “It's intense,” says Reppell. “If you talk to any electrical engineers on site who have spent many hours in the chamber trying to get their product to pass that test, they will tell you that this is a hard test.”
So give your printer a little love. It went through a lot to earn the right to carry the HP name.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

Disclaimer

Prices, specifications, availability and terms of offers may change without notice. Price protection, price matching or price guarantees do not apply to Intra-day, Daily Deals or limited-time promotions. Quantity limits may apply to orders, including orders for discounted and promotional items. Despite our best efforts, a small number of items may contain pricing, typography, or photography errors. Correct prices and promotions are validated at the time your order is placed. These terms apply only to products sold by HP.com; reseller offers may vary. Items sold by HP.com are not for immediate resale. Orders that do not comply with HP.com terms, conditions, and limitations may be cancelled. Contract and volume customers not eligible.

HP’s MSRP is subject to discount. HP’s MSRP price is shown as either a stand-alone price or as a strike-through price with a discounted or promotional price also listed. Discounted or promotional pricing is indicated by the presence of an additional higher MSRP strike-through price

The following applies to HP systems with Intel 6th Gen and other future-generation processors on systems shipping with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Pro systems downgraded to Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8.1: This version of Windows running with the processor or chipsets used in this system has limited support from Microsoft. For more information about Microsoft’s support, please see Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle FAQ at https://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle

Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, Xeon Inside, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.

In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.

HP will transfer your name and address information, IP address, products ordered and associated costs and other personal information related to processing your application to Bill Me Later®. Bill Me Later will use that data under its privacy policy.

Microsoft Windows 10: Not all features are available in all editions or versions of Windows 10. Systems may require upgraded and/or separately purchased hardware, drivers, software or BIOS update to take full advantage of Windows 10 functionality. Windows 10 is automatically updated, which is always enabled. ISP fees may apply and additional requirements may apply over time for updates. See http://www.microsoft.com.

“Best All In One Printer” and “the easiest printer you’ve ever had to set up” from Wirecutter. ©2020 The Wirecutter, Inc.. All rights reserved. Used under license. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-all-in-one-printer/

Get Marvel’s Avengers when you purchase HP gaming PCs with qualifying 9th gen or 10th gen Intel® Core™ i5, i7 and i9 processors. Redemption code will be sent out by email within 60 days of purchase. Limited quantities and while supply lasts. Offer valid thru 12/31/2020 only while supplies last. We reserve the right to replace titles in the offer for ones of equal or greater value. Certain titles may not be available to all consumers because of age restrictions. The Offer may be changed, cancelled, or suspended at any time, for any reason, without notice, at Intel’s reasonable discretion if its fairness or integrity affected whether due to human or technical error. The Offer sponsor is Intel Corporation, 2200 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054, USA. To participate you must create an Intel Digital Hub Account, purchase a qualifying product during the redemption period, enter a valid Master Key, and respond to a brief survey. Information you submit is collected, stored, processed, and used on servers in the USA. For more information on offer details, eligibility, restrictions, and our privacy policy, visit https://softwareoffer.intel.com/offer/20Q3-19/terms.

© 2020 MARVEL. © Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

The personal information you provide will be used according to the HP Privacy Statement (https://www8.hp.com/us/en/privacy/ww-privacy.html)