geekdom from my dark past

A photocopier has been jamming almost constantly here at work, and I’m the sort of guy who will muck in and help clear the jam when I notice it. There was yet another complaint of it jamming. I cleared it, and decided to give a mini-lecture on paper curl to my colleagues:

For future reference, when the paper jams again, (after you clear the jam) figure out which tray it was feeding from, and flip the paper over.

Why? It’s about paper curl. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to worry about this, but with 1) cheap/thin paper, 2) cheap copiers/printers, and/or 3) high-performance copying (seriously), the “endianness” of the paper really matters. With this batch of paper, the ream should be placed in the copier paper tray “seam-side up” where the seam is on the packaging.

Uh, that’s hard to describe, but dead simple when you see it. Email me if you want a demonstration.

I actually refrained from going into further, scarier detail. Y’see, paper is manufactured and stored as massive rolls before being cut into sheets. The natural curl is always going to be present, and (naturally) more pronounced with thinner sheets. Add heat and pressure to the mix (such as the fusing stage of Xerography), and a thin sheet of paper is going to show its curl.

Well, that’s a bit of nostalgia from my misspent youth. The smell of high school to me was the smell of ozone from the school district’s Xerox 9900 copier (yes, high-performance copying, indeed), which I operated for four years as a part-time job, during lunch and after school. I very rarely sat in study hall – all my spare time was spent making copies, doing spare bits of desktop publishing on the mac there, doing paste-up for my Model UN club’s newsletter, or videotaping sports events. Then there was my paper delivery route, once I got home. Is it a wonder I still have an abiding love of paper, printing, typography, and multimedia?