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What is Printer?

A printer is a hardware output device that is used to generate hard copy and print any document. A document can be of any type such as a text file, image, or the combination of both. It accepts input command by users on a computer or on other devices to print the documents. For example, if you have to submit a project report at your college, you need to create a soft copy of your report and print it with the help of the printer.


Printers are one of the common computer peripheral devices that can be classified into two categories that are 2D and 3D printers. The 2D printers are used to print text and graphics on a paper, and 3D printers are used to create three dimensional physical objects.

Types of printer

Although there are different types of printers, nowadays, two types of printers are commonly used, which are inkjet and laser printers. A list of all the various types of printers is given below:

  • Inkjet Printers
  • Laser Printers
  • 3D Printers
  • LED Printers
  • Solid Ink Printers
  • Dot Matrix Printers
  • Multifunction or All-in-One Printers
  • Thermal printer
  • Plotter

Inkjet Printers

It is widely used by home and business computer users that prints characters by spraying the ink using magnetic plates on the paper. It contains a paper feed assembly, ink cartridge, print head, stabilizer bar, and belt.

It stores the ink in cartridges, and uses separate cartridge to print several types of color documents. These colors are a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black color. These types of printers have the ability to create high-quality pictures with the help of vivid colors. Furthermore, the inkjet printers are more affordable and easier to use as compared to other printers.

Inkjet Printer

Advantages of Inkjet Printers:

  • The Inkjet printers have the ability to produce high-quality output.
  • These printers are reasonably fast and easy to use.
  • Additionally, these types of printers do not take warm up time.

Disadvantages of Inkjet Printer:

  • It may take more time to print.
  • Its running cost is high.
  • It does not allow the highlighter marker.
  • Sometimes, it can produce a wrong warning of an empty cartridge.

Laser printers

The laser printer is one of the common personal computer printers. It was introduced in 1971, and after that it was developed at Xerox PARC by Gary Starkweather. It uses the laser or non-impact photocopier technology to print the text and images on the paper. Whenever it gets input to print any document, a laser beam draws the document on the selenium-coated drum with the help of electric charges.

  • When the drum is charged, it is rolled in toner (dry ink powder). The ink follows the image, which has charged on the drum. The ink is combined with the paper, including heat and pressure, then transferred on a chunk (piece) of paper.

When the document is printed, the excess toner is collected, and an electric charge is removed from the drum. Most of the laser printers are capable of printing only in monochrome. The monochrome laser printer is around ten times cheaper than a color laser printer.

Laser Printer

There are many differences between a laser printer and inkjet printer, such as:

  • The laser printer contains dry ink, while an inkjet contains wet ink.
  • An inkjet printer is approximately ten times more expensive than the laser printer as it requires replacing the ink very frequently.
  • If a paper is wet, the inkjet printer will print the document with blur, but the laser printer will print clear. The inkjet printer is suitable for printing fewer documents, while the laser printer has the ability to print more documents.

Advantages of a Laser printer:

  • These types of printers have a higher paper capacity.
  • It is less expensive than the inkjet printer.
  • It has the ability to print documents speedily.
  • Furthermore, it is able to increase productivity.

Disadvantages of a Laser printer:

  • Laser printers may need warm up time.
  • Laser printers are bulky as they required the laser technology and imaging drum.
  • It requires high voltage leads to small carbon emissions.

3D Printers

One of the best enhancements in the history of printing technology is the 3d printer, which was developed by Chuck Hull in 1984. It produces 3D objects and items by using quality resin. It uses materials like plastics, polymers, metal alloys, or even food ingredients.

3D Printer

Application of 3D printers

There are many applications where 3D printers are used, such as archaeology, aerospace engineering, information systems, dentistry, and biotechnology. For example, it might be used to reconstruct ancient artifacts of archaeology physically, which have been destroyed with time.

How 3D printer works?

Generally, the design of an object starts in a computer-aided design (CAD) software system where its prototype is created. Then, the computer-aided design system sends this prototype to the printer in STL (stereolithography) file format. The printer then starts the process of recreating the object layer-by-layer after reading the prototype in cross-sections. The below image is a blueprint of 3d printer that is known as FlashForge.

3D Printer

Advantages of 3D printer:

  • The main advantage of a 3D printer is that it allows users to print objects in 3D .
  • It has the ability of full customization.
  • It is easy to access and cost-effective.
  • It prints the documents with better quality.
  • It provides users unlimited shapes and geometry.

Disadvantages of 3D printer:

  • Its initial and resin costs are high.
  • 3D printing is still developing technology.
  • It consumes high energy around 50 to 100 more than injection molding.
  • It includes limited materials
  • The 3D printers are slow as they are limitless for mass customization.

LED Printers

The LED printer is mostly like a laser printer. It uses the drum, ink, and fuser system to print the black or colored documents. Initially, Casio and function developed the LED printers by focusing light throughout the whole length of the drum. These types of printers are non-impact, but instead of using a laser in the printhead they use a light-emitting diode. These printers were invented by the manufacturer OKI in 1989.

LED Printer

There is a difference between laser printers and LED printers; the LED printers use a strip of LEDs to create an ink-attracting static charge on the printing drum while laser printers use a laser and mirror. Although LED printers are not more popular as compared to inkjet and laser printer, they are gently gaining popularity as they provide users the unique benefits.

How LED printer works?

LED printers have a photoreceptive drum-like laser printer, which contain surface that is extremely charged with static electricity with the help of high voltage wire. In a laser printer, to draw an image or text from a circuit board, laser uses the data, which is sent to it that needs to be printed into a mirror and moves on its axis for transferring the beam on to the drum.

Whereas, in the LED printer, the negative static charge is produced by LEDs that may be located above or below the drum.The light that comes from the LED strikes the positively charged drum that erases the charge from the drum and produces a negative electrostatic charge. This charge attracts the positively charged toner particles, which stick to the negatively charged surface created by the LEDs.

When the paper enters the printer’s mechanism, it gets positively charged with the help of high voltage wire and draw the toner from the negatively charged parts where it has stuck.Then, the paper moves between two heated rollers, and before it comes out from the printer, it carries the toner on the page.

Advantages of the LED printer:

  • The manufacturing of LED printers is cheaper than laser printers.
  • These types of printers mostly contain free warranty extensions.
  • These printers are capable of printing on thick 3D items.

Solid Ink Printers

A laser class solid ink printer is designed to save space and money on packaging. It uses a unique type of ink technology that is melted into a liquid before being used. As inkjet printers stream the ink directly on the paper, but solid ink printers are different as they stream the ink on the drum. Firstly, transferring the ink to the drum than to the printer is a better way to get a good color combination as a drum can be controlled appropriately than the moving paper. Xerox acquired the color printer division of Tektronix, Inc., in 2000. The solid ink printer was introduced in the market by Tektronix, Inc., with its crayonlike cartridges.

Advantages of solid ink printer:

  • The print quality of a solid ink printer is good as it produces dynamic colors and extraordinary print quality on a broad range of media like envelopes, recycled paper, transparencies, and cardstock.
  • The solid ink printers are easy to handle because these are made by non-toxic vegetable oils and do not melt in our hands. Unlike laser or inkjet printers, they do not spill or leak.
  • These types of printers are capable of printing the documents fast. Generally, it can print up to 30 pages per minute.
  • The ink loading in the solid printer is an easy as it includes sticks in particular shapes that only go to the correct slot. These types of printers contain the ink slot on the top of the printer, and they allow you to replace the ink at any time, including at the time of printing.
  • The solid ink printers are designed in that way; they comprise only three main assemblies, print drum, print head, and controller. It takes less space as compared to the color laser printer.
  • Furthermore, these printers and their parts are affordable than the color toner cartridges and color laser printers.

Disadvantages of a solid ink printer:

  • These printers may require warm-up and cool downtime.
  • These are sensitive to UV light, and color may fade under the sunlight with the time.
  • These printers consume more power than the laser printer
  • These printers are mainly used for a large numbers of printing. If it is turned off in the middle of the printing, it will take some time to warm up again.

Dot Matrix Printers

The dot matrix printers are also known as a pin printer that was released by IBM in 1957. Although, in 1970, Centronics created the first dot-matrix impact printer. It strikes an ink ribbon using print heads that place thousands of little dots to form images and text. Nowadays, as compared to laser and inkjet printers, it is less used, as its printing speed slow and generates lower quality images. However, dot matrix printers are still in use in some sectors like package delivery companies and auto part stores.

Dot Matrix Printer

Advantages of Dot matrix printer:

  • A dot matrix printer is less expensive as compared to most of the printers, and it is easily available in the market.
  • It has the ability to print carbon copies of a particular print out, unlike non-impact printers.
  • Its printing cost is lowest than the other printers.
  • Furthermore, its maintenance cost is less expensive than the other printers.

Disadvantages of Dot matrix printer:

  • The speed of the dot matrix printer is slow as compared to non-impact printers, and its output is also not of high resolution.
  • It creates high noise when the pins hit the ribbon to the paper.
  • It may be a time-consuming printer as it requires a single paper to wound up and aligned manually.

Multifunction Printers

Multifunction printer is a hardware device that can perform various tasks such as printing, scanning, faxing, and copying. It is also called the All-in-One printer. It is suitable for budget-minded businesses that want to reduce costs, consolidate assets, and improve workflow. Although it is necessary to connect the printer to a computer with the help of a wire or wireless connection, sometimes it can be controlled from their control panel like standalone copiers. Furthermore, no need for more than one unit as it can easily complete multiple tasks within an office or home simultaneously.

Multifunction Printer

Advantages of Multifunction Printers:

  • The multifunction printers can save initial cost, as instead of purchasing many printers and fax machines, you can purchase only one large MFG for multipurpose.
  • These types of printers are beneficial for home and office as they save a lot of floor space. It may be difficult to find space for the fax machine, printer, and scanner, but a multifunction printer takes limited space and can perform multi-task such as a printing, faxing, and scanning.
  • One of the best advantages of a multifunction printer, the operation functionality is faster as compared to laser printers or other printers. Also, some of the multifunction printers can send print documents, faxes, scan images, and copy all at the same time.
  • Furthermore, these printers need only one cable to power the whole setup, which reduces the congestion and electricity required to run the device. Thus, the multifunction printer consumes less power as compared to other printers.

Disadvantages of Multifunction Printers:

  • The operating cost of a multifunction printer is high. Its maintenance cost is also expensive as it uses ink speedily as compared to other printers. All functions, such as faxing, copying, and printer, use ink faster.
  • These printers perform a task on the basis of first in first out rule. So all tasks stack up in a queue that can cause slow the machine.Thus, some people may have to wait to use the machine.
  • When the multifunction printer is out of service or broken down, the all work scanning, printing, copying, faxing will be completely stopped. It can be an issue for an organization, if they have more requirements for faxing, copying, and printing the documents.

Thermal printer

The thermal printer is invented by Jack Kilby that is also known as an electrothermal printer, thermal transfer printer, or thermal wax-transfer printer. It utilizes heated pins in order to produce the image on paper. These types of printers are widely used in banking, airline, grocery, entertainment, retail, healthcare industries, fax, and calculator machines.These printers are low-cost and print fast, and do not use ink like other printers. They primarily depend on the thermal paper to produce the images.

This technology is useful for an organization as it is reliable as well as cost-effective. Employees can work continuously without getting interrupted because they do not need to change the cartridges or ribbons in this printer.

Thermal Printer

Advantages of Thermal printer:

  • One of the main advantages of a thermal printer, it does not need any ribbons or cartridges.Thus, the companies can save the time by using it.
  • These types of printers are easy to use as they have fewer buttons, including the use of software.
  • These are beneficial for offices as they provide noise-free environments.
  • These printers are cheaper and available in several models and sizes.
  • These printers are faster and more efficient in printing monochromic ones than the other printers.

Disadvantages of Thermal printer:

  • Generally, a thermal printer does not produce colors print out well, like standard printers.
  • At the time of printing, the high heat can be harmful to the printhead. Consequently, if the printhead breaks down, you have to pay for a repair or buy a new one.


A plotter is a hardware device or a printer, which was first invented by Remington-Rand in 1953. It is developed to print vector graphics and uses a pencil, pen, marker, or other writing tools for drawing continuous lines instead of using ink or tonner. It is widely used to print a hard copy of schematics and other similar applications.

There are several types of plotter given in the below list:

  1. Drum plotter: It is also known as roller plotter. It turns the paperback and forth on a drum while pens move left and right. With the help of combining these two directions, the line can be drawn in any direction.
  2. Flatbed plotter: In flatbed plotter, a paper is placed on a large horizontal surface.A traveling bar moves across the surface and draws the lines.
  3. Electrostatic plotter: It draws on paper that is charged negatively with positively charged ink or tonner.
  4. Inkjet Plotter: It is a type of Pinch Roller Plotter, which produces an image with the help of showering little drops of ink on the paper.
  5. Cutting Plotter: It is a new generation device that allows users to cut different shapes. It is mainly used for advertising, sign-making, bill board, and vehicle graphics.

Advantages of Plotter:

  • A Plotter is capable of working on the large sheet around 2 feet or more with better quality.
  • It can print on sheet, steel, plastic, aluminum, plywood, and any flat sheet material, including paper.
  • It has the ability to save all templates and patterns on the disk. Thus, it can overcome the problem to load the same pattern again and again.
  • Furthermore, it can draw the same pattern thousand times without any degradation.

Disadvantages of Plotter:

  • The size of a plotter is very large than the traditional printers.
  • Plotters are more expensive as compared to a traditional printer.

Printer interfaces

Printer interfaces refer to the various ways to connect and communicate the printer to a computer. Nowadays, the common connection types used are Wi-Fi (Wireless) and USB cable (wired). A complete list of cables is given below, which are used to connect a computer with a printer:

  • USB
  • Cat 5
  • MPP-1150
  • Firewire
  • SCSI
  • Serial port
  • Parallel port
  • Wi-Fi

USB: It stands for a universal serial bus that was first introduced in January 1996. It allows computers to communicate with peripheral and other devices. There is a wide range of USB-connected devices such as a keyboard, mouse, pendrive, and flash drive. It may also be used to send power to certain devices like tablets, smartphones, including charging their batteries.


USB cable is available with different types of length from 3 feet to 16 feet. Its maximum length is 16 feet 5 inches (5 meters) that is used for high-speed devices, and 9 feet 10 inches (3 meters) used for low-speed devices.

Cat 5: It is a network cable,which includes four twisted pairs of copper wire terminated by an RJ-45 connector. It is also known as LAN cable or Ethernet cable. It is used for both business and home networks to offer data transmission speeds of upto 100 MB per second. Its maximum length is 100 meters. If you exceed this length without any network device, can cause network issues, including data transmission speed breakdown and data packet loss.


MPP-1150: It was used with the Atari computer serial interface. It is connected to a 36-pin connector of a printer.

Firewire: It is a digital bus bandwidth of 400-800 Mbps and more, developed by Apple in 1995. It supports plug and play (PnP) devices and can handle up to 63 units on the same bus. It is also called IEEE-1394. The users who are more familiar with USB can think about FireWire that is similar to USB. Like USB, FireWire has various devices such as cameras and removable drives.

SCSI: It stands for Small Computer System Interface, was first completed in 1982. It is mainly used for disk drives and supporting eight devices, or sixteen devices with Wide SCSI. Once it is installed on the computer, it allows several SCSI devices to be installed.

  • SCSI-1: It is the original SCSI standard that is able to transfer up to eight bits in a second. It was developed as ANSI X3 in 1986.
  • SCSI-2: It provided support for additional devices, and added new features like wide and fast SCSI. It was approved in 1990.
  • SCSI-3: In 1996, it was approved as 'ANSI X3.270-1996.

Serial port: It is an asynchronous port on the computer that can transmit one bit at a time. It provides users the option to connect a serial device with a computer. For example, a modem might be connected to COM1, and a mouse might connect to COM2. It can be used with a mouse, modem, printer, and network. Furthermore, it is a part of the motherboard and located on the backside of the computer.

Serial port

Parallel port: It is widely used to connect printers to the computer. It was originally designed by Centronics company and later developed by Epson. It is a 25-pin computer interface and located on the back of BM compatible computers.

Parallel port

Wi-Fi: It is a wireless networking technology, stands for wireless fidelity. It uses the IEEE 802.11 standard to provide wireless internet and network connections.Wi-Fi is more popular as it provides a wireless connection where to provide a connection via a cable is much difficult because it requires installation and deployment on every computer.

History of various printers

Printer History
Mechanical printer In 1822, Charles Babbage introduced the first mechanical printer to use with the difference engine.
Inkjet printer Although inkjet printers were developed in 1950s, they were not capable of producing decent digital images until the 1970s. These printers were developed by different companies such as Epson, Canon, and Hewlett-Packard.
Laser printer The laser printer was developed by Gary Starkweather during working at Xerox by modifying one of their model 7000 copiers in the beginning 1970s. When Hewlett-Packard developed HP LaserJet printers in 1984, the laser printers became more affordable and widely available. The next year, the Apple LaserWriter printer was invented by Apple, which provided a PostScript technology to the printer market.
3D printer In 1984, the 3d printers were introduced by Chuck Hull.
Dot-matrix printer In 1957, IBM created the first dot matrix printer. Although, the Centronics company introduced the first dot-matrix impact printer in 1970.

How to buy a printer?

Whenever you are buying a printer, it may be a difficult task for you to select a perfect printer. Below is important information about printer technology that can help you to buy a printer.


While purchasing a printer, the first consideration is technology, which is used by the printer for printing. Nowadays, laser and inkjet printers are more popular printer technologies.

Laser printers are better solution for businesses or network as they provide high-quality resolution, efficiency, and speed.

Inkjet printers are affordable and beneficial for home businesses and home users.


It is one of the main points to keep in mind while purchasing a printer. It is measured on the basis of dots per inch (DPI) printed by a printer.


Before buying a printer, speed is also an important point that must be considered. The speed of a printer means how many pages can be printed by a printer in a minute. It can be rated between 4 and 10+ pages per minute (PPM), which is based on different factors like if a print is a color or black and white, full-page, or text only. You may prefer to buy a laser printer as it has a faster speed of page per minute as compared to the Inkjet printer.

Cost per page

The cost per page is related to the ongoing price of the printer after purchasing it. When you are looking at cost per page, you may have to pay less for a laser printer as compared to an ink printer.

Ink and toner

Whenever you are buying a printer, the toner or ink is an important factor. Read the given below characteristics of the ink that is used with the printer.

  • Price is one of the most important factors when you are purchasing a printer. If you need to use the printer frequently, you have to spend more money on replacing the ink.Thus, check out how much cost will have to pay when the ink requires to be replaced.
  • You are required to look availability of the ink from where you can purchase it. As there are some printer manufacturers who exclusively provide the ink to customers. In case if you buy this ink from a third-party, the printer's warranty becomes void.
  • Check out what type of ink is used by your printer. Users who are thinking about the laser printer, make sure the printer accepts different color cartridges. Some printer manufacturers may provide one cartridge that contains all types of cartridges, so even if you need one color, you have to buy all the colors available in this cartridge. Also, check if cartridges contain only ink or ink and nozzles because the cartridges with ink and nozzles will more costly as compared to the cartridge with just ink.

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