The Ins and Outs of Various Types of Printers

by Rich on September 10, 2009

Over the years, printers have increased in efficiency, ability, and affordability. Questions still abound concerning the best option and how your needs determine your options. Those that are confused about which printer will work best for them or their small business will benefit by knowing a few simple facts concerning each of the different styles of printers.

Laser Printer

Laser printers utilize a laser beam in order to produce an image on a drum. This drum rolls through a reservoir of toner and the charged portions of the drum absorb the ink. Through a combination of pressure and heat, this ink is then transferred onto paper. Laser printers are fast and require fewer ink cartridge changes than their counterparts. Laser printers are also capable of printing in color and utilize four toner colors to create a variety of color combinations.

LED and LCD printers are very similar to laser printers. They use a light source instead of a laser to create the image on the drum that is then used for printing. However, the term “laser printer” is often used interchangeably between all three options. The quality and speed of printing with LED and LCD printers is comparable to that of basic laser printers.

Laser Printer

Ink-jet or bubble-jet printers spray drops of ink onto paper to create an image. The letters are formed by magnetic plates that direct the path of the ink into the appropriate form. Nearly all ink-jet printers are available in black and white and color. Many have the ability to produce printing that is of such high quality it nearly matches that of a laser printer. Standard ink-jets have a resolution of 300 dots per inch, but there are options available that offer better quality than that.

The most advanced of the printer options is the dye sublimation printer. They are used by professionals and typically in design businesses that require a great deal of graphic art. The printers are capable of heating ink to a point where it turns to a gas. The color is applied to the page in one continuous action by degree of darkness. The ink is on large rolls of film that contains each color. This type of printer requires a specific type of paper because the dyes must diffuse with the paper surface in order to create a precise shade.

Ink Cartridges

Dot matrix printers, also known as impact printers, use pins and ribbon to print characters on paper. It is similar to the action a typewriter makes. There is a large degree of variance in speed and print quality. In the past, it was far more common for dot matrix printers to be utilized for more options. The biggest advantage of a dot matrix printer is its ability to print through multi-page forms in one printing. This allows a dot matrix printer to print more pages than even the highest quality laser printers.

Solid ink printers are less popular than many of the other options. It uses wax ink sticks to print. The wax is liquefied and enters the reservoir of the printer, squirting ink into a drum where it is cold fused onto paper. The advantage of solid ink printers are their ability to provide high quality color consistency.

While not all of these printing options are available for use at home or for a small business, knowing the differences between the various printer options. Understanding printer capabilities and options will help you make the most informed choice for your needs.

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