inters : Daisy Wheel, Dot Matrix, Inkjet Printers & Laser Printers
Written By: Ashok Sharma
What is a Printer?
A printer is an electromechanical device which converts the text and graphical documents from electronic form to the physical form. Generally they
are the external peripheral devices which are connected with the computers or laptops through a cable or wirelessly to receive input data and print
them on the papers. A wide range of printers are available with a variety of features ranging from printing black and white text documents to high
quality colored graphic images.
Quality of printers is identified by its features like color quality, speed of
printing, resolution etc. Modern printers come with multipurpose functions i.e.
they are combination of printer, scanner, photocopier, fax, etc. To serve
different needs there are variety of printers available that works on different
types of technologies.
Types of Printers
Since the invention of the printing technology, a variety of technologies have
been employed in computer printers. Broadly printers are categorized as
impact and non impact printers. Impact printers are the type of printers in
which a key strikes the paper to make a letter. The examples of Impact
printers are Daisy wheel and Dot matrix printers. While non-impact printers
do not operate by striking a head against a ribbon. Inkjet printers and laser printers are the non-impact printers. The most popular printers are
Daisy Wheel Printers
Daisy wheel printers print only characters and symbols and cannot print graphics. They are generally slow with a printing speed of about 10 to 75
characters per second. By 1980 daisy wheel printers were the dominant printers for quality printing but since the prices of laser and inkjet printers
have declined and quality of dot matrix printers has been improved, the daisy wheel printers are now obsolete.
Working of daisy wheel printers is very similar to typewriters. A circular printing element (known as daisy wheel, shown in the below image) is
the heart of these printers that contains all text, numeric characters and symbols mould on each petal on the circumference of the circle. The
printing element rotates rapidly with the help of a servo motor and pauses to allow the printing hammer to strike the character against the paper.
Dot Matrix Printers
It is a popular computer printer that prints text and graphics on the paper by using tiny dots to form the desired shapes. It uses an array of metal
pins known as printhead to strike an inked printer ribbon and produce dots on the paper. These combinations of dots form the desired shape on the
paper. Generally they print with a speed of 50 to 500 characters per second as per the quality of the printing is desired. The quality of print is
determined by the number of pins used (varying from 9 to 24).
The key component in the dot matrix printer is the ‘printhead’ which is about one inch long and contains a number of tiny pins aligned in a column
varying from 9 to 24. The printhead is driven by several hammers which force each pin to make contact with the paper at the certain time. These
hammers are pulled by small electromagnet (also called solenoids) which is energized at a specific time depending on the character to be
printed. The timings of the signals sent to the solenoids are programmed in the printer for each character.
The printer receives the data from the computer and translates it to identify which character is to be printed and the print head runs back and forth,
or in an up and down motion, on the page and prints the dots on the paper.
Inkjet printers
Inkjet printers are most popular printers for home and small scale offices as they have a reasonable cost and a good quality of printing as well. A
typical inkjet printer can print with a resolution of more than 300 dpi and some good quality inkjet printers
are able to produce full colored hard copies at 600 dpi.
An inkjet printer is made of the following parts:
Printhead – It is the heart of the printer which holds a series a nozzles which sprays the ink drops over
the paper.
Ink cartridge – It is the part that contains the ink for printing. Generally monochrome (black & white)
printers contain a black colored ink cartridges and a color printer contains two cartridges – one with black
ink and other with primary colors (cyan, magenta and yellow).
Stepper motor – It is housed in the printer to move the printerhead and ink cartridges back and forth across the paper.
Stabilizer bar – A stabilizer bar is used in printer to ensure the movement of printhead is précised and controlled over the paper.
Belt – A belt is used to attach the printhead with the stepper motor.
Paper Tray – It is the place where papers are placed to be printed.
Rollers – Printers have a set of rollers that helps to pull paper from the tray for printing purpose.
Paper tray stepper motor- another stepper motor is used to rotate the rollers in order to pull the paper in the printer.
Control Circuitry – The control circuit takes the input from the computer and by decoding the input controls all mechanical operation of the
Similar to other printers, inkjet printers have a ‘printhead’ as a key element. The printhead has many tiny nozzles also called as jets. When the
printer receives the command to print something, the printhead starts spraying ink over the paper to form the characters and images. There are
mainly two technologies that are used to spray the ink by nozzles. These are:
Thermal Bubble – This technology is also known as bubble jet is used by various manufacturers like Canon and Hewlett Packard. When
printer receives commands to print something, the current flows through a set of tiny resistors and they produce heat. This heat in turn vaporizes
the ink to create a bubble. As the bubble expands, some of the ink moves out of the nozzle and gets deposited over the paper. Then the bubble
collapses and due to the vacuum it pulls more ink from ink cartridge. There are generally 300 to 600 nozzles in a thermal printer head which can
spray the ink simultaneously.
Piezoelectric – In the piezoelectric technology, a piezo crystal is situated at the end of the ink reservoir of a nozzle. When printer receives the
command to print, an electric charge is applied to the crystal which in turn starts vibrating and a small amount of ink is pushed out of the nozzle.
When the vibration stops the nozzle pulls some more ink from the cartridge to replace the ink sprayed out. This technology is patented by Seiko
Epson Corporation.
An inkjet printer can print 100 to several hundred papers depending on the nature of the hard copy before the ink cartridge need to be replaced.
Laser Printers
Laser printers are the most popular printers that are mainly used for large scale qualitative printing.
They are among the most popularly used fastest printers available in the market. A laser printer
uses a slight different approach for printing. It does not use ink like inkjet printers, instead it uses a
very fine powder known as ‘Toner’. Componetns of a laser printer is shown in the following image:
The control circuitry is the part of the printer that talks with the computer and receives the printing data. A Raster Image Processor (RIP) converts
the text and images in to a virtual matrix of dots. The photoconducting drum which is the key component of the laser printer has a special coating
which receives the positive and negative charge from a charging roller. A rapidly switching laser beam scans the charged drum line by line. When
the beam flashes on, it reverses the charge of tiny spots on the drum, respecting to the dots that are to be printed black. As soon the laser scans a
line, a stepper motor moves the drum in order to scan the next line by the laser.
A developer roller plays the vital role to paste the tonner on the paper. It is coated with charged tonner particles. As the drum touches the
developer roller, the charged tonner particles cling to the discharged areas of the drum, reproducing your images and text reversely. Meanwhile a
paper is drawn from the paper tray with help of a belt. As the paper passes through a charging wire it applies a charge on it opposite to the toner’s
charge. When the paper meets the drum, due to the opposite charge between the paper and toner particles, the toner particles are transferred to
the paper. A cleaning blade then cleans the drum and the whole process runs smoothly continuously. Finally paper passes through the fuser which
is a heat and presser roller, melts the toner and fixes on the paper perfectly.
A printer is any device that prints text or illustrations on paper. There are many different types of printers. In terms of the technology utilized, printers fall into the
following categories:
daisy-wheel: Similar to a ball-head typewriter, this type of printer has a plastic or metal wheel on which the shape of each character stands out in
relief. A hammer presses the wheel against a ribbon, which in turn makes an ink stain in the shape of the character on the paper.Daisy-wheel printers
produce letter-quality print but cannot print graphics.
dot-matrix: Creates characters by striking pins against an ink ribbon. Each pin makes a dot, and combinations of dots form characters and
ink-jet: Sprays ink at a sheet of paper. Ink-jet printers produce high-quality text and graphics.
laser: Uses the same technology as copy machines. Laser printers produce very high quality text and graphics.
LCD & LED :Similar to a laser printer, but uses liquid crystals or light-emitting diodes rather than a laser to produce an image on the drum.
line printer: Contains a chain of characters or pins that print an entire line at one time. Line printers are very fast, but produce low-quality print.
thermal printer: An inexpensive printer that works by pushing heated pins against heat-sensitive paper. Thermal printers are widely used
in calculators and fax machines.
Printer Characteristics
Printers are also classified by the following characteristics:
quality of type: The output produced by printers is said to be either letter quality (as good as a typewriter), near letter quality, or draft quality. Only
daisy-wheel, ink-jet, and laser printers produce letter-quality type. Some dot-matrix printers claim letter-quality print, but if you look closely, you can see
the difference.
speed: Measured in characters per second (cps) or pages per minute(ppm), the speed of printers varies widely. Daisy-wheel printers tend to be the
slowest, printing about 30 cps. Line printers are fastest (up to 3,000 lines per minute). Dot-matrix printers can print up to 500 cps, and laser printers
range from about 4 to 20 text pages per minute.
impact or non-impact: Impact printers include all printers that work by striking an ink ribbon. Daisy-wheel, dot-matrix, and line printers are impact
printers. Non-impact printers include laser printers and ink-jet printers. The important difference between impact and non-impact printers is that impact
printers are much noisier.
graphics:Some printers (daisy-wheel and line printers) can print only text. Other printers can print both text and graphics.
fonts : Some printers, notably dot-matrix printers, are limited to one or a few fonts. In contrast, laser and ink-jet printers are capable of printing an
almost unlimited variety of fonts. Daisy-wheel printers can also print different fonts, but you need to change the daisy wheel, making it difficult to mix
fonts in the samedocument.
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