How does a printer work?-Mechanisms and Principles


A printer is an electronic output device which produces hard copies of electronic data stored in a computer or smart device upon instruction. Generally speaking, it makes digital texts and photos into materials.

There are different types of printers based on various factors. In this article, I am going to break down ins and outs of two most popular type of printer. They are:

  • Inkjet printer.
  • Laser printer.
Mechanism of printer


Inkjet printer: An inkjet printer uses inkjet technology in which the ink is directly sprayed on the paper by very small nozzles. This is the most widely used printer and creates images of very high quality. The quality of an image is measured in terms of resolution. Inkjet printer is known for the details works and precision and preferred by the artists and professionals.

Mechanisms and Principles of Inkjet Printer



Principle of a printer

I am going to describe the functions of each part of a basic inkjet printer sequentially so that you can easily understand how it works. The function of an inkjet printer is as follows:

Print Head: The printer is the heart of an inkjet printer which contains nozzles which are used to spray ink from ink cartridges.

Ink cartridges: Ink cartridges are the reservoirs that hold the ink. It can be just black and white and in colors. The manufacturers produce it based on the customer demands.

Stepper motor: The stepper motor moves the print head and ink cartridges back and front to spray the ink on the papers.

Belt: Belt is used to connect the print head, ink cartridges and stepper motor.

Stabilizer: Stabilizer is used to make the movements of the other parts perfect.

Paper tray: Paper tray is the loading place of the paper.

Roller: Rollers are like wheels which pulls the paper into the machine. Another stepper motor is used for the accurate movements of the rollers.

Control circuit: The control circuit receives input from the operation and does the job accordingly.

Although the mechanisms might seem lengthy but a high quality inkjet printer can operate very fast with perfection even producing thousands of dots per inch. The speed of a printer is measured in pages per minutes (PPM).


Laser printer: Laser printer was first invented by an engineer of Xerox Company which uses laser technology to print on pages. This type of printer can be costly but creates bright images. Laser printer is fast compared to inkjet printer. This type of printer is suitable for loads of printing works with a very low operation cost.


Mechanisms and Principles of Laser Printer


The basic working of a laser printer is based on static electricity. Static electricity is the charge produced due to frictions. I am going discuss the mechanisms of each part of the machine sequentially as follows:


Drum: The drum is positively charged and connected to a wire. And the drum rotates by the instructions. As the drum rotates, electrostatic energy is created. This energy is the laser which forms the patterns and images of the digital documents and texts.


Toner: Once the pattern is formed, the toner comes into business. The drum is then coated by positively charged powder which is known as toner. Since, the two charges are same, they repel each other. As a result, the positively charged toner tends to stay at the patterns areas where there is less positive charge. On the other hand, the paper is charged negatively by the wire. So, the paper picks up the positive charges from the toner as patterned. Then, the toner forms images on the papers. The process can be reverse depending on the printers.


Fuser: The fuser is the one which heats the paper. As I told earlier, laser printer uses powder ink. Fuser is used to heat the paper so that the ink is attached to the paper for good. The temperature of fuser is very high. But the only reason, the paper does not burn is due to speed. This is like moving fingers through fires very quickly.


Controller: The controller receives input by the operators and performs the job accordingly.





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