I want to convert a USB Type B receptacle on a printer to an ethernet adapter. I know they make USB Type A to ethernet adapters. But I don't see USB Type B to ethernet adapters. USB Type B is downstream; I don't even know if it would work. First, is it possible to convert a USB Type B to USB Type A on a printer? Second, is it possible to convert USB Type B on a printer to an ethernet adapter? Would ethernet even work?

Thank you.

3 Answers 3


You need a USB "print server" $20-$200 or more

       USB type B            Ethernet   
          |                     |
          V                     V
 +-------+        +------------+           +---------------+         +-------+
 |printer|--------|Print Server|===========|Ethernet switch|=========|  PC   |
 +-------+        +------------+           +---------------+         +-------+

 --------- USB type B to type A cable
 ========= Cat5 or Cat6 UTP Ethernet patch cable with 8P8C (RJ45) connectors

The Ethernet switch is optional if you currently only have one PC and no other Ethernet devices such as routers etc, domestic (SOHO) routers usually have a 4-port switch built-in.

Example 1
Example 2

  • Thank you very much for your help. I appreciate the diagram and the explanation. Thank you.
    – user717236
    Aug 8, 2012 at 16:01

USB is an asymmetric interface. You need a USB host to talk to peripherals. In the configuration with an Ethernet dongle and printer, you are short of a host, you just have two clients.

The easiest way to solve your problem would be to use a router with a USB port (that already contains appropriate software support aka print server) to talk to the printer, should you have one spare. If you are willing to opt for a DIY solution then a Raspberry Pi with a default GNU/Linux distro should be an excellent project with projected costs of around 35£ including a power supply. For an off-the-shelf solution please look at @RedGrittyBrick's answer.

  • Thank you very much for your help. Is it still possible to convert the USB Type B to USB Type A, though? Probably not, because what good would it do if there is no host?
    – user717236
    Aug 8, 2012 at 14:48
  • 1
    +1 for mentioning why the proposed scheme won't work. -1 for not providing an accurate "easiest way" (e.g. a standalone print server like @RedGrittyBrick did). -1 for not explaining why any/all USB ports on a router will work. -100 for suggesting a development board like the Raspberry Pi when the OP obviously wants/needs a turnkey solution.
    – sawdust
    Aug 8, 2012 at 20:53
  • Point taken. Silly brain, just did not explicitly cough up the term "print server" that was so obviously lacking from my answer.
    – jpe
    Aug 10, 2012 at 13:37

There is another problem here. Most USB-only printers are GDI printers (which have no intelligence, but rely on the Windows graphics system to convert the page into dots on the paper).

GDI printers are notoriously hard to network. They typically only work if networked via another PC. In other words, most printservers will not work with GDI printers. Some combinations do work though. If you're thinking of getting a printserver, make sure you first check the manufacturers' compatibility list. If your printer is not listed, then you must assume it will not work.

If your printer supports PCL5/6 or PostScript then the above does not apply and there should be no problem. And note that HP use something called PCL3, which is another name for GDI.

  • That's not really true. GDI printers still have a communications protocol after all and putting the right driver on the client PC Will Usually Just Work. I've used several Canon and Epson inkjets over the years that were USB only and were networkable.
    – staticsan
    Aug 9, 2012 at 2:03

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