Printers on the Moon

I recently saw an article that started with this…

Somewhere, 254 miles above us, an astronaut is probably printing something.

Lance Ulanoff on November 2, 2017

So here’s my question… If they can get a printer to work miles above the Earth, why can’t I get the printer sitting next to me to work?

I have a lifetime of printer woes which made me decide some years ago that I would use a Web based printing service rather than use a printer.

For the whole, using Doxzoo (my chosen online print company) has been good. I design my image, choose the paper, click the copies required and pay up; then a few days later the printing arrives.

It’s great, and yet I find myself not printing things because I can’t be bothered to wait for the postal service to catch up. If I see a doll clothing pattern I like will I print it off or not? I actually found myself using the screen of my iPad to trace a pattern by hand recently because it was just not worth ordering an online print of one image.

Then I began selling Cards and I wanted a more professional look, so I searched for a card printer who didn’t mind small quantities ( They’re a nice friendly company who have a range of card options and finishing choices. My first order was pretty big and I’ve since placed a couple smaller orders.

Their minimum order is 24 cards of one design, which is great because it doesn’t sound too much. Except that, what if I make a bit of a doozy? What if I design a card that I think is great but customers don’t buy? I’m stuck with 24 cards I can’t sell, or worse, what if, after printing I find a mistake? 24 cards in the bin.

Also while the price is ok, unless I meet a second minimum total order of £250 (before tax) then I have an added charge of 50%. This means I either have to pay an additional 50% on my small order or wait until I’ve enough designs to cover the minimums. That also leaves the problem of new ideas not getting onto the website quickly enough. Do I print Christmas cards and lose what small profit I make with cards or do I wait a bit until I’ve designed Valentines cards?

And so, I started looking at getting my first printer in years.

Unfortunately, I began looking for a printer just as lockdown was in full sway and people now working from home were buying every printer imaginable for their new home office.

Well, with lockdown over and supplies up and running again I began my hunt.

I watched dozens of Youtube videos, read a couple reviews, and settled on a printer which would cost around £600.

My last printer was bought from PCWorld/Currys. Is it just me or do other women feel ignored in these type of shops? Anyway, I bought the printer home, plugged it in, tried to connect it and… nothing. Couldn’t connect it to my Mac, couldn’t work it, it was an online manual and I was getting frustrated with not having enough information at hand. And so, the printer was returned.

This time I needed a different approach.

In my search for the best printer I stumbled across a company called Printer Base (, they have this useful live chat option that a lot of companies use and even more surprising I’m certain I was actually talking to a human. I mentioned what I needed the printer for, and was recommended a printer of the same make I had chosen but at half the price.

My thoughts were obviously that she had misunderstood my needs, because all online reviews I’d seen were recommending a £600 printer and so I mentioned the one I had been looking at. She told me that while the higher price one would do what I wanted, this cheaper one would also cover my needs and I was left with a clear choice of listening to my own thoughts (and biased hatred of the machines) or a person who spends all day dealing with printers. Well I bought the cheaper one. They could’ve got another couple hundred from me, but nope, and that told me to buy from them.

The printer arrived quickly, but it was a day before my holiday so off I went knowing I’ve the mess of a printer set up to come home to.

Yep, setting up the printer was a mess.

In frustration I got onto the Printer Base website to have a moan about yet another printer not connecting. It turns out I didn’t know about a button on my wifi box that I need to press to connect it. With this customer service woman typing her calm reassurance we managed to get a working printer.

I printed some cards, got some cards samples from and had a blast trying out different card stock.

And then the novelty of printing cards wore off and the printer became a tool instead of a toy.

This morning, after it being switched off for a couple weeks, I needed to print something, so I switched on the printer and of course, it didn’t work. I searched online for an answer and all I got were forums to read through, then I remembered Printer Base and got on their website. Yep, printer back online (problem again wasn’t the printer but Macs habit of needing to re-find the printer.

Now, I’m not getting advertising for any company here, and a whole rant about a printer sounds like the stuff of nightmares (if you can get your computer to read this post then it might help get you to sleep) but it has made me think about where I buy items.

I often go on about the need to support local crafters and artists, but when it comes to big items, I head to Argos or one of those superstores that (I feel) ignore me until my ‘Man’ can come and tell them what I need.

Could you imagine a big company underselling you something because they’d rather you go home with a cheaper but right product than make a bigger sale?

Can you imagine phoning up the superstore and asking for help when you haven’t paid for the additional monthly care package?

Me neither.

Now, like I’ve said, I’m not paid to recommend anything. What about the 10% off inks and paper I hear you say? nope, everyone who buys a printer gets that offer.

If you’re looking at printing off your images then you can’t do better than trying out Printer Base.

So, now I need a washing machine, I was going to pop into Argos, but I think I’ve learned my lesson and look for a smaller business this time.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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