I recently dug out my other card printer to fit it with a 12v regulator, (it’s 24v at the moment), and figured I’d do a teardown post while I had the thing in bits.
This is a less industrial unit than my Zebra P330i, but unlike the Zebra, it has automatic duplexing, it doesn’t have Ethernet connectivity though.
Unlike domestic printers, which are built down to a price, these machines are very much built up to a spec, and feature some very high quality components.
Here’s the mechanism with the cowling removed. This is the main drive side of the printer, with the main drive stepper at left, ribbon take-up spool motor lower right, and the duplex module stepper motors at far right.
The main drive motor runs the various rollers in the card path through a pair of synchronous belts, shown here.
The stepper itself is a quality ball-bearing Sanyo Denki bipolar motor.
Electrical drive is provided to the stepper with a L6258EX DMOS universal motor driver. This chip can also drive DC motors as well as steppers.
Here is the encoder geared onto the ribbon supply spool. This is used to monitor the speed the ribbon is moving relative to the card.
Here’s a top view through the printer, the blue roller on the left cleans the card as it’s pulled from the feeder, the gold coloured spool to it’s right is the ribbon supply reel. The cooling fan on the right serves to stop the print head overheating during heavy use.
The spool take-up reel is powered by another very high quality motor, a Buhler DC gearmotor. These printers are very heavily over engineered!
This motor drives the spool through an O-Ring belt, before the gear above. This allows the drive to slip in the event the ribbon jams, preventing it from breaking.
The pair of steppers that operate the duplexing unit are driven by a separate board, with a pair of L6219DS bipolar stepper driver ICs. There are also a couple of opto-sensors on this board for the output hopper.
All the mechanisms of the printer are controlled from this main PCB, which handles all logic & power supply functions. Sections on the board are unpopulated, these would be for the Ethernet interface, smart card programming & magstripe programming.
The brains of the operation is this ColdFire MCF5208CVM166 32-bit microprocessor. It features 16KB of RAM, 8KB of cache, DMA controller, 3 UARTs, SPI, 10/100M Ethernet and low power management. This is a fairly powerful processor, running at 166MHz.
It’s paired with an external 128Mbit SDRAM from Samsung, and a Spansion 8Mbit boot sector flash, for firmware storage.
Here the USB interface IC is located. It’s a USBN9604 from Texas Instruments, this interfaces with the main CPU via serial.