The Basics

Printer operation is quite easy. In a nutshell, printers create tangible copies of digital pictures and text. They accomplish this by converting the file into a language that the printer can comprehend using a driver or specialised software. Then, using a succession of tiny dots, the picture or text is replicated on the page. The manner by which the dots are transmitted onto the paper is the only fundamental distinction between the numerous types of machines that are available.


Each print head on an inkjet printer has a huge number of small holes. These little apertures rapidly spray microscopic ink droplets onto the printer’s paper. Inkjet printers utilise a liquid ink that is either created by a coloured dye or a liquid that has suspended solid pigments. The paper travels through the machine perpendicular to the print head as it advances horizontally. A little drop of ink is forced out onto the page as the print head’s individual holes are triggered as the page goes through (often by heat, depending on the manufacturer). The digital text or picture that is being transferred onto the medium is recreated throughout this procedure at rapid speed using thousands of droplets that come together. Because of how little the dots are, the whole picture seems solid to the unaided eye.


Similar to inkjet printers, laser and LED printers create images from a large number of small dots that, when combined, provide the impression of a single, solid picture. The technique used to create those small dots is really different, though. So, although an inkjet employs liquid dots, a laser printer uses toner, which is a tiny powder formed of solid particles, to create its dots.

Lasers have much more moving parts than an inkjet printer. Compared to inkjet, these machines need a lot more steps in the manufacturing process. Toner, a drum (mono) or many drums (colour), and a light source (laser/LED) are the only components of the fundamental process.

The drum is charged before the laser or LED is shined onto it in the shape of the desired picture in order to produce an image on the page. A set of rollers transfers the toner powder from the toner cartridge and deposits it at the drum. The toner itself is drawn to parts of the drum where the charge has been knocked off. The toner is drawn onto the drum and sticks to the components that make up the picture because the charged portions reject the toner and the uncharged areas attract it. At the same time, the paper is moved to the location where it will meet the drum, which will then transfer the picture to the page. The toner particles are then heated and compressed as the paper is moved through a fuser unit (hot roller), which produces a completed picture by adhering the toner particles to the sheet.

Solid Ink

Solid ink printers, which are exclusive to Xerox, combine the capabilities of both inkjet and laser printing. Using a print head like to an inkjet printer, solid wax is melted and sprayed onto a large drum unit. A sizable metallic roller is used to form the picture, which is subsequently transferred to the paper. You are left with an image composed of a material that resembles crayon once it dries. Prints using solid ink printers are recognised for being exceptionally vivid and colourful.

And there you have it – a full simplified breakdown of how printers work. We hope that you’ve found it useful!

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