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laser printers

Planning to print out your own business cards and brochures? If you’re not doing huge print runs, printing on your home or office printer may be your only option. But not every printer is equipped to handle the demands of graphic design printing. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a printer to print your marketing collateral.

Colour printing capabilities. You’ll need excellent colour printing capabilities if you want to use your printer for business graphics. Look for a printer with a high DPI number. The acronym “DPI” means “dots per inch,” and it refers to the amount of coverage per square inch that the printer is capable of. The higher the DPI number, the richer and more vibrant the colours.

Photo printing capabilities. Will you be printing photographs as part of your brochures? If so, look for a photo inkjet printer—while laser printers can print decent-quality photo images, they don’t look as good as an inkjet’s photos. In addition, consider the type of camera you’ll be using and the method it requires for connecting to a printer. Is your printer compatible, or will you have to download your images to your computer first?

The per-page cost. Manufacturers and your office supply store should be able to tell you how much the printer you’re considering would cost to print per page. Bear in mind, however, that manufacturers often estimate the per-page cost by assuming an ink-on-paper coverage of about 5%. If you’re printing graphic design documents, you’ll probably be printing on a higher quality setting and using thicker coverage—so your per page costs will likely be higher than the manufacturers’ estimates.

Margin printing capability. Some inkjet printers won’t print all the way to the edge of a document. This may be a problem for you if you’re printing business cards, brochures, direct mail postcards and so on. You’ll either have to take that design limitation into account when creating your documents, or you’ll have to find a printer that can print all the way to the edge. Make sure you ask your office supply store staff before buying a printer.

Print speed. Because you’re going to be printing higher-quality documents than the usual, most printers’ fast print speeds will probably be much faster than you’ll actually experience with the printer. If you can, find out how long the printer takes to print photo-quality or best-quality documents, including processing time—more complex files require additional time to process, and some printers are faster at this than others.

Bear in mind that Laserjet printers are often much faster than inkjet, but they have their own drawbacks as graphic design printers. Print speed may be important to you—especially if you’re printing several hundred documents at once on a regular basis—but you may have to make sacrifices in terms of quality to get a faster printer.

Multifunctionality. How do you plan to use your printer? If you could see the usefulness of a printer that also scans and copies documents, you may need a multifunctional printer. These printers often function as scanners, copy machines, and sometimes even fax machines.

Print mediums. Not every printer can print on every medium. Some printers—particularly Laserjet printers—can only print on paper with a weight of 105 gsm (grams per square metre) or lower. Others have the capability to handle a wide range of mediums and heavy papers, from card stock to menu paper. Look for a printer that can handle the mediums you plan to print on.

Graphic design printing demands a lot from printers, and not all machines are designed to handle these demands. Still, there are some printers out there that can deliver the print quality you need to print business marketing collateral. Look for a printer that doesn’t compromise on quality, but also doesn’t break your budget—and bear in mind that your per-page costs will likely matter more than the initial cost outlay for the printer. Test the printer before you buy to judge its print quality, speed, and the way it handles the mediums you want to print on—and you should be able to find the right printer for your needs.

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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.



Inkjets vs. Laser Printers: The Pros and Cons

August 19, 2009

Inkjet printers and laser printers both have their benefits and drawbacks. Which one is right for you will probably depend on the type and volume of printing you’re doing. Here are a few things to consider when choosing between inkjet and laser printers. Inkjets are cheaper up front; lasers are cheaper over the long term. [...]

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How Laser Printers Work

March 16, 2009

You know how if you rub a balloon against your shirt, it will stick to you? The principle at work there is static electricity-and without it, we wouldn’t have laser printers. Static electricity is an electrical charge that builds up on an object-and atoms with a positive charge will cling to those with a negative [...]

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