19th Aug 2005

Types of Printer

Once you’ve thought about what you’re looking to do with a printer, you’ll be able to decide on what type of printer you’re after. The technology of printers can be broken down to two types – impact and non-impact printers, which as you’d imagine do exactly what it says on the tin. But the actual types can be broken down into four main categories.

  • Inkjet Printers
  • Laser Printers
  • Dot Matrix Printers
  • Thermal Wax Printers

Inkjet Printers

Similar to a Dot Matrix, an Inkjet printer places extremely small drops of ink onto the paper, creating an image using a series of nozzles. But unlike the Dot Matrix, Ink Jet printers can produce dots that are actually smaller than the diameter of a human hair!

Ink Jets are by far the most common type of printer used today, mainly purchased by home users and small businesses because of their cheap cost.

Laser Printers

The Laser Printer is the most common printer in medium to large sized businesses. Unlike the previously mentioned types, Laser printers are very technical in the way they work. The printer uses static electricity as a kind of ‘temporary glue’. As the main component (a drum) revolves, the printer shines a laser beam to certain points, drawing the image/text as a pattern of electrical charges.

The printer then coats the drum with toner (the black powder used to create the image) and because the toner is charged positively, it clings to the areas of the drum which are negatively discharged. Finally the drum rolls over a sheet of paper and then passes through a pair of heated rollers called the fuser.

Laser printers come in both black and white and colour versions.

Dot Matrix Printers

This kind of printer is seen as slightly old-fashioned these days but is very useful for printing out large amounts of text. On the technical aspects of a Dot Matrix printer, there is generally a vertical column of 48 small needles (or pins), each of which can be pushed forward, pressing an ink ribbon against the paper. Compared to pretty much every other kind of printer available, the Dot Matrix printer is very noisy.

Thermal Wax Printers

These kind of printers use a ribbon with CMYK colour bands. The ribbon essentially passes in front of a print head, which has lots of tiny heated pins. These cause the wax to melt onto the paper where it hardens. Thermal wax printers are expensive and mostly used by publishing companies and businesses or home users wanting to produce extremely high quality printouts.

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