The Printing Technology: How Does Printers Work

April 2, 2013 1 Comment

man-question-markPrinters have been typical peripheral devices found near our computers, used in producing tangible copies of digital text and graphics documents stored in your hard disk via USB cable or printer cable that serves as the document source. But as technology evolves, new wireless and Ethernet-based printers were invented making way for the development of cloud printing. Some printers, on the other hand, can interface directly to electronic devices or portable storage devices such as smartphones, tablet PCs, memory cards and flash drives.

These printers are so common, they can be found in the office or at your own home, they have become a part of our everyday life. But do you know exactly how printers work? What is the technology behind their configuration and processes?

Both the laser and inkjet printers were developed from the printing technique called “offset-press” wherein “the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket then to the printing surface” as reliable Wikipedia defined it. Laser printers used “xerographic printing process” also called “electrography” in its design, a dry copying technique first developed for copier machines by Chester Carlson. While inkjet printers used two main printing processes, the continuous inkjet technology (CIJ) and drop-on-demand which are sub-categorized into two, thermal and piezoelectric technology.

Laser Printing Technology

HP LaserJet 1010

HP LaserJet 1010 Laser Printer

Laser printers differ from inkjet printers because it uses toners instead of ink and laser beams to print digital documents and images on the paper. It works when the laser draws the image or copy of the document into the drum cartridge that the printer had processed from the computer or peripheral device, the drum cartridge or photoreceptor drums then distributes the proper amount and color of toner (dry powder ink) into the paper then are melted by a separate heat fuser or the drum cartridge for the toner to bind into it and produce the output. This makes them different from analog photocopiers though both of them used the same printing process.

Inkjet Printing Technology

Epson WorkForce 840

Epson WorkForce 840 InkJet Printer

Inkjet printers, on the other hand, produce tangible copies or output of digital documents by propelling droplets of ink to the paper hence the term. Inkjet printing was first introduced in the 20th century and was developed as a technology by the early 1950s. Inkjet printers that uses CIJ or continuous inkjet process is probably one of oldest inkjet technologies used, basically used for printing marks and codes in products and packages. Label printers are one good example.

The thermal inkjet printing process, meanwhile, was introduced by Canon in the year 1977 by Engineer Endo Ichiro. The main concept of this technology has something to do with its printer cartridges that use photolithography. Its printer cartridges has an order of chambers, each one containing a heater which causes the vaporization of the ink in the chamber forming a bubble and causing a pressure increase inside the cartridge producing droplet of ink, making the printing possible.

Its counterpart, piezo-electric technology is mostly applied on printers manufactured by the famous printer companies Epson and Brother. It uses a piezo-electric material that when a current passed through it, it changes it shape and cause a pressure to force a droplet of ink from the nozzle of the ink cartridge. The Piezo-electric technology like the CIJ is often found on printers to mark products.

But as technology continue to develop, who might know when new printing technologies are going to add up on these list and how advanced they are.

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One Comments to “The Printing Technology: How Does Printers Work”
  1. Priceless Ink & Toner says:

    Fine article, can you drop a few lines about the solid ink printing thechnology?

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