Computer Printers – All You Need To Know

file1621 | May 24, 2014 | Computer Hardware


Printers have certainly come a long way since the inception of the character and dot matrix printers.

These ancient products (ancient in technical terms being as few as 10-15 years) were what are known as impact printers, simply because they needed to make a physical connection with the paper in order to achieve the ink-on-paper result.


Dot matrix printers came equipped with a group of pins that touched a ribbon which then connected with paper to produce the finished product. Character printers, which worked on the same principle as electric typewriters, used a bar or ball whose surface was embossed with all the characters you now see on any keyboard. These characters made contact with the ribbon, which in turn made contact with the paper.

Today we use non-impact printers – those that do not make physical contact with the paper to create the papered reproduction. The most prevalent for home or small office use is the inkjet printer – an economical choice for all but the most serious graphic arts requirements.


An inkjet printer produces the images and type it delivers from computer to paper by means of miniscule drops of ink. So miniscule, in fact, that a human hair would seem big by comparison. Standard ink drops of an inkjet printer have a diameter range of 50-60 microns. Arranged very precisely, these ink drops come in various resolutions (the higher the resolution, the clearer and more life like the output.) while 800×600 dpi (dots per inch) is a typical SOHO (small office home office) resolution producing quite adequate print quality, an inkjet printer can offer resolutions as high as 1440×720 dpi. Adding color to the mix can produce images nearly as high in quality as a laser printer product.

There are five basic parts to an inkjet printer: the print head assembly, the paper feed assembly, circuitry control, power supply, and printer ports.

The print head assembly is the heart of the printer workings. It’s what brings the ink to paper by means of a row of nozzles. The print head may be part of the inner workings of a printer cartridge, or they may be separate parts. Cartridges are responsible for delivering color and shading. Most inkjet printers made nowadays offer color printing. Some may require as many as three distinct cartridges, but generally at least two – one black, one color. The motor is part of the print head assembly as well. It’s the part that enables the ink and cartridges to move across the paper and produce the hard copy. It also keeps the cartridge stable when not in use.

The paper feed assembly includes the paper tray, which holds the paper ready for a printing request, and the rollers, which deliver the paper to the ink when a printing job is requested.

The power supply is simple – it’s what gets the electricity to your printer so that it can do its job. Printer circuitry controls take the message from your keyboard and mouse and deliver it to the printer so that the requested hard copy can be produced. Printer ports, also referred to as interface ports, much like a telephone jack, enable the peripheral (the printer) to talk to the computer. While in older models parallel ports were the norm, the newest printer models connect via USB ports, which require a special USB cord.

Inkjet Printers are not only getting better but they also becoming less expensive with time. A branded inkjet cartridge can cost you $30 or more and if your printer uses a multi-color ink cartridge system ink costs could easily $1000 to replace all inkjet cartridges for your entire inkjet printer.

The growing business of inkjet printers has brought about additional benefits to them. Manufacturers have built their business around the supplies rather than the printer itself. They have made the inkjet printers an inexpensive commodity sometimes selling them at lower cost or may be even less thereby making long term profits from inkjet printers.

An Inkjet printer uses a unique printer mechanism, which provides quality printing. They transfer tiny droplets of ink directly to the page. This is the reason why you will find most photo printers are inkjets. If you want to print photos at home, photo inkjet printer would probably be a perfect choice. For instance, if you want to print few photos, few e books or print any other project work an inkjet printer would help your cause. Inkjet printers are far less expensive than laser printers.

Tips to keep your inkjet cost low
•When you print inter-office, personal or draft documents use the “draft” and “grayscale” option. This can help you save a lot on black and color ink.
•Purchase generic cartridges made for you printer as they can be purchased at half the price.
•Purchase a cartridge refill kit as they are have an excellent quality and cost low.
•Always purchase your cartridge in bulk as this can help you bring down the total cost.
•Purchase remanufactured cartridges made for your printer
•Order you inkjet cartridge online to save time and money. Now days many online outlets do not carry the generic version and costs are normally lower.

First a little history lesson…..
There was a time, long ago that printers had ribbons and used dot matrix printing to create tiny dots that, when looked at, were readable. Sometimes they were BARELY readable, however. Changing ribbons and printing wheels to change type face was a chore.

Then, in 1984, the first laser printer that used toner cartridges came into being. Quickly, no one wanted a dot matrix printer anymore. The laser printer caused ink powder from the toner cartridge to fuse onto the paper where the program told the printer to leave ink. The output was much clearer and much more professional in appearance. Very soon, dot matrix printers became known as “door stops”.

By 1990, inkjet printers that used drop-in ink cartridges became readily available and very reasonable prices. These inkjet cartridges were very easy to change without any fuss. The cost to the user, compared to the laser toner cartridge, was significantly reduced.

So now it starts getting pretty cool….
Today, inkjet printers using ink cartridges are so affordable that every computer owner can afford to own their own printer that is capable of using photo quality inkjet cartridges or for less expensive printing, ink cartridges that are remanufactured or “generic” or non-original manufacture. These inkjet cartridges can even be refilled in many cases to save even more money.

The price of the machines themselves has dropped by buckets and what they can do is way cooler than ever before. Not only can you print but also scan, fax (many do PC-Fax which I’ll get to later), copy, make your morning coffee, take out the garbage (ok not those last 2). Combining this many tasks obviously reduces the number of different machines in your home/office but in addition there’s only one manual you have to completely ignore instead of many (for the guys reading this). The PC-Fax thingy I mentioned Id actually like to discuss a little more about because I personally find this a fantastic feature. Basically it means that your printer/fax/everything else talks directly to your computer allowing you to send and receive faxes without any visible signs of paper involved. For example if anyone was crazy enough to want a copy of this article faxed to them I could do it directly from my computer without having to actually print anything out.

When using inkjet cartridges that are photo quality, it is sensible to use photo quality paper for your printing. This ensures the best quality print out resulting from your inkjet photo quality cartridge. While these inkjet cartridges will print on regular paper, it is a waste to place the more expensive ink cartridge into your printer and then print on plain non-glossy paper.

For every day printing in black and white or even in color, remanufactured or non-original inkjet cartridges work great and save money for you in the long run. As a general rule of thumb, you need to purchase twice as many black inkjet cartridges because there is, on average, more black printing needs for the average person.

Nowadays manufacturers are including more and more technology into their cartridges and trying to convince you that their ink has that extra special something. Epson uses DURABrite ink, HP uses Vivera ink and the list goes on. If you ever get bored and feel the need to work yourself into a frenzy just try surfing some of the major sites to compare exactly what one manufacturers ink does compared to the next. If you come away from this sane you’ll definitely know a lot more techie sounds words than you need to know now or in your next lifetime.

Many of the latest ink cartridges have cool gizmos in them like small chips designed to monitor the ink levels and tell you when its time to reorder and even little LEDs for those of you who want their printer to light up like a disco. The idea of the chip sounds great but there are cases where the chip is telling the printer to stop working too soon or even to not work at all if the cartridges inside are not original (there’s been at least one of the major players recently sued over exactly this). To try and counter this a ‘chip resetter’ can be purchased which basically tells the chip to do as its told and keep on printing regardless of how much ink it thought was left in the tank. As far as the issue with these chips and non original cartridges is concerned its actually illegal for a chip to stop your machine working on this basis but apparently this hasn’t deterred a few of the big boys. Whether a chip resetter will fix this problem is uncertain.

No one knows what will come next in the world of printing. Just as the dot matrix printer long ago became a door stop (mostly that is), it is possible that within the next decade a new, less expensive, more user-friendly printing method that is even more cost effective than inkjet printers using drop-in ink cartridges will become archaic. For today, inkjet cartridges in low-priced printer provide the average household with all the affordable printing from their inkjet printer they need.

Whether you want to print graphics, brochures, or just letters, there is a printer that uses inkjet cartridges for you. Choose inkjet cartridges that meet your printing needs at affordable prices.

Bottom line is yep your ink cartridges are getting more high tech and cooler (heck in the old days theres no way your cartridge would actually light up with pretty colours for you and tell you when its about to run dry).


Like with many other things in the world of printing, laser printers have come a long way in the past few years. They have gone from being found almost exclusively in offices to being offered at $100 for a home user. Although they are better for a lot of people, some have a hard time imagining themselves buying a laser printer for their home. A lot of people have the idea that laser printers are just the big clunky machines in their offices where the toner cartridges cost a fortune. However, if you are someone who prints out a large amount of documents and is tired of always having to buy new black inkjet cartridges, laser printers can be the solution. Once you get past the initial sticker shock of buying laser toner cartridges, you will realize the numbers for an entry level laser printer versus an inkjet printer look something like this:

Typical toner cartridge – $50-$60
Page yield – 2,000-3,000 pages
Average cost per page – 2-2.5 cents per page

Typical inkjet cartridge – $20-$30
Page yield – 400-500 pages
Average cost per page – 4-6 cents per page

Although these are just averages and may not seem all that different, in general if you are printing documents, it will probably cost you twice as much to run an inkjet printer than a laser printer. It is better to think of things in the long term when it comes to laser printers, because only then will you truly appreciate their value. If you buy a laser printer and then a backup toner cartridge at the same time, by the time you will have finished that second cartridge, you would have gone through roughly 10 inkjet cartridges.

So if you aren’t into printing color, then you are probably better off going with a laser printer over a standard inkjet printer. You will appreciate the speed and low maintenance of a laser printer, while also saving money on printer ink in the long run.

In the case of poor quality toner in a laser printer, the black areas won’t be as dense. However, now that good quality, name brand color laser printers are much more affordable, I think it is time for their reconsideration. Enter the color laser printer, which has a relatively low toner cost and does its best quality printing on inexpensive, plain laser paper. In addition, higher quality rag-content bond papers can also be used effectively with a color laser printer. SMEs need an inexpensive laser printer that achieves quality results quickly. If you’re intent on reproducing photos, you’re better off with a good quality inkjet printer instead of a laser.

Since then, laser printers have decreased further in price and increased in quality. A laser printer is a common type of computer printer that reproduces high quality text and graphics on plain paper. Toner Cartridge Depot presents a convenient way to purchase quality office products, laser printer toners, ink cartridges and printer cartridges at competitive prices. Plus, low-end colour lasers often produce colour output quality that rivals that of much more expensive printers. Quality, resolution, and colorThe standard resolution in most laser printers today is 1200 dots per inch (dpi). – Excellent quality: The text is very clear with no dots visible anywhere – exactly what you would expect from a quality laser printer.

When it comes to quantity and quality, I use a Laser printer and if it happens to be a color laser, so be it. Color laser printers are for people who want the speed and text quality of a black-and-white laser but require color, too. However, only the most expensive color laser printers can match the true photo quality of the best photo ink jets.

While colored toner is available, color laser printers are generally much more expensive. 30% of a new product · This product is a recycled version of the used toner cartridge for laser printer. The toner is black in most cartridges, but may be cyan, magenta, and yellow in color laser printers. Inexpensive color laser printers usually ship with a starter set of toner cartridges, which generally hold about a third of a normal cartridge. Last year the answer would have been “go inkjet” because of quirks in laser printer toner technology. Color laser printers add colored toner (typically but not always cyan, yellow, and magenta see CMYK) in three additional steps or passes. bulk toner will do but must include instructions for my minolta qms 2300 DL laser printer. Click here to save on laser printer toner. Firstly, if I went out and spent this much on a laser printer I wouldn’t expect to be shafted with a ‘starter toner pack’. When it comes to laser printers, the main consumable cost you will encounter is toner cartridge replacement. A slightly modified colour laser printer addresses these toner particles to a solid support. Because an entire page is transmitted to a drum before the toner is applied, laser printers are sometimes called page printers. In a write-black printer the laser positively charges the printed areas to attract the toner, which gives better detail than a write-white printer.

Built on an advanced print engine, this 8ppm monochrome laser printer is productive and easy to use. First, laser printer cartridges are able to print thousands of pages and are usually cheaper per page than inkjet cartridges. Dot-matrix printers can print up to 500 cps, and laser printers range from about 4 to 20 text pages per minute. Because laser printers do not use ink, they have less image smearing problems than inkjet printers and are able to print pages faster. The result is a color laser printer that is ready to print as soon as you connect it. Today a comparable laser printer that boasts more memory, a higher print speed and duplexing capability can be had for about $300.00. The fastest color laser printers can print over 60 pages per minute (3600 pages per hour).

The laser printer does not print in color, but my project didn’t require color. If you print a lot, you too may want to consider adding a laser printer to your computer set-up. So whenever I click on the print icon, the document is automatically sent to the laser printer. Most laser printers print only in monochrome. The application being used must support Postscript in order for the laser printer to print Postscript documents. A laser printer with duplex printing can print on one side of the paper, turn the paper over, and print on the other side.


Dedicated photo printers differ from all-purpose printers as they are designed to print photos only, as opposed to text or graphics documents in addition to photos. They are generally compact in size and lightweight, and some models even feature batteries that allow you to print without the need for an outlet. Most photo printers, including dye-sublimation (or dye-sub) printers, are built around a thermal dye engine, though there are a few that feature inkjet technology.

For many years, dye-sublimation printers were specialist devices used in demanding graphic arts and photographic applications. The advent of digital photography led to the entry of this technology into the mainstream, forming the basis of many of the standalone, portable photo printers that surfaced in the second half of the 1990s.

The term “dye” in the name refers to the solid dyes that were used in the process instead of inks or toner. “Sublimation” is the scientific term for a process where solids (in this case, dyes) are converted into their gaseous form without going through an intervening liquid phase.

The printing process employed by true dye-sublimation printers differs from that of inkjets. Instead of spraying tiny jets of ink onto a page as inkjet printers do, dye-sublimation printers apply a dye from a plastic film. A three-pass system (featuring solid dyes in tape form on either a ribbon or a roll) layers cyan, magenta, yellow, and black dyes on top of one another. The print head on a dye-sub printer uses tiny heaters to vapourise the dye, which permeates the glossy surface of the paper. A clear coat is added to protect the print against ultraviolet light. Although this method is capable of producing excellent results, it is far from economical. Even if a particular image does not need any one of the pigments, that ribbon segment is still consumed. This is the reason it is common for dye-sub printer compatible paper packs to contain a transfer film capable of producing the same number of prints. In addition, dye sublimation inks need a paper that allows the ink to remain on the surface of the paper.

Nowadays, a number of inkjet printers on the market are capable of deploying dye-sublimation techniques. The cartridges in such printers spray the ink, covering the page one strip at a time. The print head heats the inks to form a gas, controlled by a heating element that reaches temperatures of up to 500° C (higher than the average dye sublimation printer). A big difference in the results with dye-sublimation technique is that because the dyes are applied to the paper in gas form, they do not form distinct dots with a hard edge like inkjet printers. Instead, the edges are softer and blend into each other easily. Additionally, the infusion of the gaseous dye into the paper yields a more colour-fast picture.

Comparing Dye-Sublimation Printers and Inkjet Printers – Although it is difficult to point out every possible advantage and disadvantage when comparing inkjet and dye-sub printers, the following list mentions the major points that apply to most people printing photos at home.

Advantages of Inkjet Printers over Dye-Sub Printers:
· Prints are very precise with sharp edges
· Latest models offer incredible detail that exceeds most dye-sub printers
· Variety of papers/surfaces available—including matte, luster, glossy.
· Not locked in to one manufacturer’s paper
· Some archival inkjets can produce prints that long-lasting
· Most inkjets can print on many different surfaces that are designed to accept ink, including CDs, CD inserts, envelopes, etc.
· Inkjets have a considerably larger colour gamut and usually produce more vivid photos than dye-subs
· Easier to obtain large format inkjets that can print 11×14, 13×20 sizes, or larger
· Inkjet printing is often cheaper than dye-sub printing

Inkjet Printer Disadvantages:
· Often much slower than dye-sub printers
· Most non-archival inkjets produce prints that fade a little (sometimes a lot) faster than dye-sub prints
· Print heads sometimes clog and require cleaning, or even replacement

Advantages of Dye-Sub Printers over Inkjet Printers:
· Very fast
· Relatively maintenance-free
· Smooth with no dot patterns visible, even under magnification
· Produce excellent shadow detail in dark areas where some inkjets may be “blotchy”
· Prints are usually more durable and more waterproof than inkjet prints
· For many viewers, dye-sub printers produce photos that look and feel more like real photographs due to the smoothness of the prints and the absence of visible dot patterns
Dye-Sub Printer Disadvantages:
· Consumer level models often smear high contrast edges (like a black square on a white background) to some degree, making charts, graphs, and line art look a little less “precise”
· Dye-sub prints typically only last as long or slightly longer than a good non-archival inkjet printer and are generally not considered “archival”
· Paper type selection is very limited and while dye-sub printers produce excellent glossy photos, most fall behind or do not even offer the option of matte prints
· Dye-sub printers use an entire page and an entire page worth of ribbon even to print one small wallet size photo
· Pages cannot be normally fed through the printer twice to fill more of the page as they can in inkjets
· Dust can sometimes get inside and cause vertical scratches on prints
· Dye sub printing and the cost of paper and toner (ribbon) is often higher than inkjet printing


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