What Are the Two Main Characteristics of Photocopiers That Affect Image Quality?

Regardless of the types of documents your company needs to print, you want output hardware that offers the best performance for the purchase price you can afford. Today’s inkjet devices offer exceptional photographic output and text quality than can rival that of a laser printer. When evaluating inkjet printers in light of your business and its typical document workflow, consider two top-level hardware characteristics as they relate to image quality, and select the version of these attributes that matches your workflow.

Printhead Design
Inkjet printers use one of two basic types of printhead technologies. Thermal designs heat the printhead’s nozzles to push tiny ink bubbles out onto the paper, while piezo-electric designs apply electricity to a crystal, altering the nozzle’s shape to release ink droplets, which can vary in size. Because piezo-electric printheads don’t require heat to force out their ink, they may provide greater print speeds and hardware durability than their thermal equivalents. In addition, smaller ink droplets can result in better image reproduction.

Ink Type
Inkjet printers rely either on dye- or pigment-based inks. Dye-based inks produce a wide range of brilliant colors, allow for smaller ink droplets and cost less than pigment-based inks, but their absorption into paper can blur the reproduction of fine details. Additionally, dye-based inks tend to fade more quickly than pigment-based inks. Their water-soluble coloring agents produce output that offers little water resistance. For less vulnerability to water damage and fading, pigment-based inks set on the surface of paper rather than sinking into it, but they tend to reproduce a narrower color gamut.

Ink Usage
Inexpensive inkjet printers tend to use only two ink cartridges: one for black, and one for cyan, magenta and yellow. This is inefficient if one of the three colors runs out before the other two, forcing you to jettison a partially viable cartridge. Higher-end printers have individual ink tanks or cartridges for each ink color — photo printers may use eight or 10 inks to produce subtle color variations. The quality of image reproduction can depend not just on printhead and ink type, but on how many inks the printer uses, and whether it includes options for optimal black output on papers with different surface finishes, typically glossy or matte.

Although the paper you choose doesn’t constitute a printer characteristic, it affects output quality almost as much as the hardware’s capabilities and limitations. Papers designed to optimize reproduction of the specific ink types used by a printer model can improve the perceived sharpness and clarity of printed output by using specialized chemistry to produce well-matched surface characteristics. Conversely, printing on standard office bond paper produces lesser results, especially when you print photographs or graphics.

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