Why Are Paper Jams Still a Thing?

man upset over a paper jam

(3-min read)

If you have a smartphone in your pocket, you possess a marvel of technological engineering that rivals NASA’s command center that placed a man on the moon. In fact, just the clock function on an iPhone 6 is 32,600 times faster than an Apollo-era NASA computer. Despite the fact that modern technology has come so far, paper jams in printers are still an issue.

Even in the highest quality printers on planet earth, a paper jam is still a possibility. There was even at one time that paper jams impacted the criminal justice system. The lawyers had a narrow window of time in which to deliver certain pressing documents to the courts or defendants could go free. Paper jams delayed this process so much that two-out-three defendants walked out of custody due to paper jams occurring within this window. Are the engineers employed by printer companies hellbent on driving us all insane?

What’s the cause of paper jams? If you’re ready to “Office Space” an office printer in a field, your fury is misplaced. The real culprit? Paper.

Your average printer has one of the most unique engineering challenges in the world. This challenge asks companies to engineer a mechanical object to work perfectly, down to microscopic level, with an organic substance — paper. No two pieces of paper are precisely the same. Some are of different types of wood, different processes, and cut in different ways. Even paper from the same processing batch can perform differently based on climate, storage, or handling. For example, there is a reason that your printer is more likely to jam in the winter than in the summer.

Due to this complex engineering challenge, printer companies actively recruit the brightest mechanical engineers in the world to combat paper jams. These geniuses of physics and engineering not only study how to make the world’s least-jammable printers, but they also work with paper companies to manufacture the least-jammable paper. Such a relationship between paper manufacturers and print companies is downright symbiotic.

So, what was the reasoning for 2/3 defendants going free in Chicago for a time? The courthouses were using low-quality paper. Sourced from all over the world, the low-quality paper is also plagued with inconsistent curl, handling, and acts differently in certain climates.

The next time you want to destroy your office printer in frustration, keep in mind that it may be your paper that is truly to blame.


Fortunately for you, JD Young can help your company with the highest quality office printers as well as printer supplies. Our experts can help you select the right paper for your printer to help reduce the instances of paper jams.

Connect me with a printer professional from JD Young’s Managed Print Services division.