Haim Shore
Professor Emeritus

How HP Printers are Designed for Perfection – A Lesson in Customer Quality to be Learned by Others

I own an HP printer, a most recent one that has appeared on the market lately. The printer is so designed that if any of its four cartridges (magenta, cyan, yellow and black) are depleted (not serviceable) the printer stops printing. This is not my impression of the printer but a message that I have received from the printer once a single cartridge stopped being serviceable. Since I mostly use black I could not care less if cyan or yellow in my computer were depleted. But the printer has its own mind: If any of the four cartridges becomes non-serviceable, the printer stops working with a proper message issued to user which cartridge should be replaced.

Coming from the quality-engineering profession, I could not help stopping for a while to ponder over the very deep thinking embedded in this feature of the design of my printer. I think that HP’s idea of stopping operation of its devices once any component becomes inoperative, irrespective of whether that component is related to customer safety or to personal wellbeing, that is really a great idea that should be mimicked by other manufacturers.

I hereby deliver some examples for other manufacturers or service providers to follow:

* Aircraft manufacturers should design their planes so that if any of the engines fails midflight – all engines should immediately stop working;

* Car manufacturers should design their cars so that if any tire becomes deflated during driving (like a depleted cartridge in a printer) the car should stop on the spot and engine turned off automatically;

* If a light bulb at home is suddenly burnt, electricity stoppage should be initiated so that no light bulb is operative; Same goes for bulbs at traffic lights;

* If a surgeon finds out, during surgery, that blood does not reach the legs, s/he should immediately stop operation of the heart to ensure that the body undergoing surgery should only be operative under perfection conditions (like HP devices).

Never underestimate the ingenuity of designers of products when they try their best to deliver to us the best possible quality and satisfaction with their products. After all, would you like to print a letter to a friend when there is no cyan available in your printer? …

I cordially encourage readers to add some examples of their own in the comments section below so that manufacturers worldwide can learn from this post how to better satisfy our needs while designing their products.

About the Author
Haim Shore has been a tenured full professor (retired, 2015) of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. His research concentrates on quality and reliability engineering and on statistical modeling. He owns five academic degrees and has published seven books and over a hundred peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. His most recent (published) research addressed statistical modeling, estimation and monitoring of surgery duration. Professor Shore personal blog: (reachable also via