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Printer Types Explained

Introduction

While many organizations and businesses promote paperless environments, there is still a need for paper and printable media in many industries. For those industries, printers, paper, and ink are still vital tools that must be purchased, used, and maintained. Shopping for a printer can be complicated choice however, as there are different types that have their own strengths. Below, NeweggBusiness will describe the differences and advantages for some of the major types of printers.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers are one of the most common types of printer, and have been around for several decades. The word inkjet describes any printer that works by spraying small amounts of liquid ink onto paper with no contact between the printer nozzle and paper. There can be many different methods of how the printer sprays the ink onto the paper, but it is still liquid ink being transferred onto paper.

The quality and price of inkjet printers can vary greatly, but generally they cost less than laser printers and have comparable print quality. Their main disadvantages include higher cost of ink cartridges and slower print speeds compared to laser printers.

Because of their slower print speeds, inkjet printers are best suited for organizations or home offices that do not print voluminous amounts of documents.

Laser Printers

Similar to inkjets, laser printers have been popular for a very long time, except laser printers are based on a radically different technology. Laser printers have cylinders filled with electrically charged ink powder (toner) instead of cartridges filled with liquid ink.

In print onto paper, a laser is reflected off a mirror that moves to form patterns such as letters and images on the toner cylinder. Then the patterns that have been formed with the laser attract the electrically charged toner, which is rolled onto the paper.

The advantages of laser printers include fst print speed, precision, and lower cost for toners compared to ink. However, the initial purchase cost of laser printers is higher than inkjet printers, especially for color laser printers. Organizations that rely heavily on printing will find the quick print speeds of laser printers and lower cost of toner compared to ink to be very advantageous. 

LED Printers

LED printers are a type of laser printer, with an array of solid state LED diodes that strike the toner cylinder instead of a single laser beam. The laser is bounced off a moving mirror in order to create text and images on the cylinder. With LED printers, an array of LEDs is used to emit the light instead of a single laser beam. Because of this, LED printers are faster than laser printers and slightly more durable. Like laser printers, LED printers are very beneficial for organizations that print large amounts of documents.

Dot Matrix Printers

Dot matrix printers use ink cartridges like inkjets, but does not spray the ink onto the paper. Instead, a dot matrix printer uses pins that strike an ink soaked ribbon that contacts the paper. They tend to be slower and noisier than other types of printers. However, some advantages that they have include: being able to print on carbon copy paper, printing multiple copies at a time, and long lasting ink ribbons.

Multifunction / All-in-one Printers

Multifunction printers (MFPs) are also commonly known as all-in-one (AIO) printers and are very versatile tools that can be either laser or inkjet. The advantage of multifunction printers is that they combine printer, copier, scanner, and sometimes fax machine functionality into one unit. Because of their versatility, they are ideal for organizations that require all those functions but do not have a lot of space for multiple machines. 

Label Printers

Unlike the other types of printers mentioned above, label printers are not used to print onto letters but instead are used to print information onto heat-sensitive adhesive labels and tags. Label printers are popular for organizations that need to keep track of inventory or files, such as shipping carriers or retailers with large amounts of inventory. They can also be used in an office environment to create labels for files and folders.