Inkjet vs Other Types of Printers

There are a lot of different types of printers available, and if you're in the process of shopping for one it can be easy to feel overwhelmed about the whole process. Buying printers opens up a whole new world of terminology that a person new to the printer scene may not understand. Here you'll get a chance to learn about the three major types of printers most commonly used by small and large businesses and in home offices. You'll find out how they compare to each other which will help you in deciding which one will work for you.

Inkjet Printers

These types of printers were introduced in the 1980s. Back then they were quite expensive but over the years their cost has significantly dropped making them a popular printer for many businesses and home owners on a budget. Higher end models provide high quality photo prints and clear text.

Inkjet printers work by placing tiny droplets of ink onto paper to create an image. The dots are smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Human hair is 70 microns wide and inkjet dots are 50 to 60 microns in diameter. They are positioned in a specific form with a specific density called dots per inch (dpi). This dot density is also called print resolution. Inkjet printers can have varying degrees of resolution with the higher end models offering a resolution of 1440x720 dots per inch.

There are two types of inkjet printers: piezoelectric inkjet printers and thermal inkjet printers. Piezoelectric printers each have a crystal that changes its size in response to electrical current. This size change forces tiny drops of ink onto the paper. With thermal inkjet printers, ink is heated in a vapor bubble that forces the ink to drop to the paper through a nozzle.

Inkjet printers are affordable, but content printed on the paper isn't water resistant. This means that the printed material will bleed if exposed to water. Sometimes the cartridges can become clogged. And the cartridges tend to be expensive even with the cheaper models. It's possible to save money on cartridges by buying remanufactured ones, but you need to make sure the cartridges are compatible.

Dot Matrix Printers

Most dot matrix printers have been replaced with inkjet or laser printers, but they're still occasionally used for specialized applications. They're used when high quality resolution isn't necessary or when the speed at which the prints are done isn't an issue.

It produces an image or text through small wire pins striking a ribbon. The physical contact between the paper and the ink ribbon creates the image and text. The print head moves back and forth like a typewriter and the whole process can be surprisingly loud.

Dot matrix printers can print in color and black-and-white. Special color ink ribbons have three bands of the three primary colors that need several pin strikes to create the proper tone for an image.

These types of printers were popular in the 1980s. There are still a few businesses that use them to print carbon copies and multi-part forms. But the printers are slow and replacement parts are expensive because they're difficult to find.

Laser Printers

These are the fastest of the three types of printers. They use toner, which is a black or colored powder that's released through a laser beam. The laser beam is deflected by a mirror across the paper feed, which is a rotating drum cartridge. This creates a charge that forces the toner to stick to the drum which then presses the toner to the paper as the drum rotates. Prints from a laser printer are waterproof and the ink will not smear or bleed.

These types of printers tend to have a higher resolution. They're also expensive, especially if you would like a color printer. Laser printers that print just black are more affordable. Hewlett and Packard carries a line of more affordable black-and-white printers.

Other disadvantages of laser printers includes their need to warm up so they're not immediately ready for printing and their tendency not to print color as vividly as inkjet printers. They work well for business reports with graphs and charts but tend not to print as realistic looking skin tones as inkjet printers.