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Re: the printer itself
Chances are the printer head is trying to find its home posiiton or some sort, you can check for a miniature sensor and see if it is dirty try to clean this by soft cloth while the machine is power off, turn it on again and see if it does any good
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OK, it sounds like a defective printer that needs to be reset.
Unplug the power to it and replug the power back in to see if it stops doing this.
Read over the following paper jam link from hp.com. It might help you get the paper jam indicator to not light up:
Remove the cartridges from the printer. Close the cover. Unplug the printer from the power source. Wait for about 10-15 seconds before plugging it back in. Once the printer's ready, re-insert the cartridges. Close the cover. It should try to print an alignment page. Let it print the page all the way through without cancelling it. If carrier is not slamming to the sides anymore, problem's resolved. But, when after re-inserting the cartridges and the printer tries to print the alignment and still slamming the carrier to the sides, that sounds more like a mechanical problem and needs to be replaced. If your printer is still within warranty, you can call Lexmark. They might send you a replacement. Good luck!
Clean encoder strip, thin plastic strip runs width of machine pararell to silver scan rail. Ensure it is running threw carriage smoothly otherwise the light that read it is dodgy, this will be unecomical to fix unless dirty strip
Look for a plastic strip where the ink station moves back and forth. It has tiny vertical lines on it which count as the carriage moves. If the strip gets dirty, the carriage may lose count and slam against the far stop. Power off the printer and gently clean the strip with a damp rag. Rub both sides with the rag dampened with water. Then make sure it's dry and see if that doesn't help.
That piece of plastic that is out of the machine helps the print head to know where its at on the paper think of it as a guide of a sort you may be able to place it back in.I wouldn't turn the printer back on until the part is put back in you may damage it beyond repair.
I have a Dell 924 and the SAME thing is happening to me! it is probably because something called the cartridge band has disconnected. it is actually a thin small clear band that connects to either side of the inside of the printer to guide the cartridge. Unfortunatly, if you don't still have a warrenty with Dell to get it fixed or replaced, you might have to buy a new one or fix it yourself. :(