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How do printers… print? 

Although printers have been around for a number of decades, the technology doesn’t standstill.

epson printer
Image: Kevin Raposo / KnowTechie

Printers have their place in most offices and homes as an essential appliance, but as someone who uses them often – do you actually know how they work? If you’re inquisitive, read on to find out.

The standard printer is an inkjet, which is often seen at home and in smaller offices. Also common is the laser printer, which can produce documents quickly and efficiently. These use more ink and toner and are usually kept solely for large offices or those with high volumes of printing.

Before such printers were common, people assumed the launch of computers would actually result in the demise of paper. Yet, as computers became more popular, printers became an essential add on, allowing households and offices to create, replicate and distribute documents quickly and effectively.

So, how do they work?

Modern printers evolved from dot-matrix printers, where metal needles were used against pieces of ribbon to print words onto the paper. The introduction of tiny guns firing dots of ink at the paper made printing quieter and it didn’t look like little dots, instead, it looked exactly the same as it did on screen. Different models work in all sorts of slightly different ways, but most inkjets follow the same process.

There are lots of different compartments to a printer which allow the sheets to be printed perfectly. Here’s how it works at a basic level:

  1. The first step is enabling plastic gears which are driven by a miniature motor to pull the paper through the printer (There is still a ribbon inserted in the printer, but it carries the instructions to the cartridge).
  2. To keep everything precise, the plastic and rubber rollers pinch the paper together so it can move through the printer.
  3. While it continues being guided through the printer, the cartridge prints from left to right before reversing the print information and printing backwards, which enables it to print faster.

Laser printers, as Science ABC demonstrates, adopt a different process. After the document is sent to print, the paper is formed into an image that is reflected through the toner. An image is formed on the photoreceptor drum, while a piece of paper rolls underneath it.

The toner then sticks to the paper in the form of the image, and it passes through two hot rollers, which results in the particles permanently sticking to the fiber.

Although printers have been around for a number of decades, the technology doesn’t standstill. Some brands have created wireless printing, for example, which makes it simpler and faster. Brother is one of the many models who launched wireless printing as an industry standard to remove the complex web of wires that many people and offices once relied on.

Once both the computer and printer has been connected to the wireless router, the devices need to be connected to one another to launch the process. As well as wireless printers, new devices build on the technology we all use to print on different surfaces, sizes, and styles.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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