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What Is a Printer and Its Types? - Printer Functions and Uses

In this article, you are going to learn the definition and types of printers. I will be explaining everything as easier way as possible. Anyone with Basic English knowledge can understand it easily as I will be explaining all the types of printers in an eloquent manner.

What is a printer?

What is a printer?
What is a printer?

A printer is an output device which generates hard copies of electronic data stored in a computer or any other device. For example, you can design a t-shirt in your device and produce t-shirt by using very high quality printer.

Types of printer

Generally, printer can be classified into two categories:

  • Impact Printer
  • Non-impact/Modern printer

Impact printer

Impact printer: An impact printer produces image or document by using pins or hammers which presses the inked ribbon against the paper. In this case, each hammer or pin shapes like a letter or symbol when pressed the inked ribbon against the paper creates the letter or symbol. One you must have followed is a typewriter.

Types of impact printer

Impact printers can be classified as below:

  • Line printer.
  • Band printer.
  • Dot matrix printer.

Line printer

Line printer is a type of impact printer that prints an entire line at a time.

Band printer

Band printer has a rotating band which contains the characters or symbols. The band rotates at a very high speed and the characters or symbols are printed by activating the appropriate hammers or pins.

Dot matrix printer

Dot matrix printer is the most well-known impact printer. Dot matrix printer creates image by a mechanism known as print head. The print head contains pins which are arranged in one or more than one columns. The print head has the combination capacity which performs once it receives instruction. These types of printers are still used as they can be very fast and inexpensive.

Non-impact/modern printer

Modern printers are not based on direct contact. These types of printers use various modern technologies like inkjet, chemical, laser electrostatic etc.

Types of non-impact/modern printers

Non-impact printer can be classified in the following way:

  • Inkjet printer.
  • Laser printer.
  • All in one printer.
  • Photo printer.
  • Thermal wax printer.
  • Dye-sublimation printer.
  • Plotter printer.
  • 3D printer.
  • LED printer.

Inkjet printer

Inkjet printer generates image or document simply by spraying ink through very small nozzles on the desired paper. Color inkjet printer has four ink nozzles. They are cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black. For this reason, color inkjet printers are sometimes known as CMYK printers as they use CMYK color process. These four colors can be used to create any colors. Inkjet printer is the most popular among the modern printers. In the present world, one can easily get a well functioned inkjet printer under $100.On the other hand, the operating cost of inkjet printers is very small when compared to other modern printers.


Laser printer



Laser printer was developed by Xerox in 1960 with the idea of using laser for drawing images. From the name, we can get that laser is the heart of this type of printer. A CPU and memory unit is built in the printer which by receiving instructions from the computer or any other device can control the laser. Laser printer is faster and creates better quality image. The starting of price of a laser printer is about $140.This type of printer is suited for both home and office.


All in one printer

All in one printer are developed for the multifunction purpose i.e. printing, scanning, photocopying and faxing. Multiple companies use inkjet or laser technology to create quality all in one printer. The minimum price can be $170 for a good quality all in one printer.

Photo printer

Photo printers are designed to create photos from digital cameras and scanners. Many photo printers use inkjet technology while some use dye-sublimation technology. The best photo printers can create images or photos just like the photos created in traditional method. The price of a photo printer usually starts from $200

Thermal wax printer

A thermal wax printer is a type printer that uses ribbon which is coated with wax. This type of printer is normally used for printing graphics and for printing on transparency materials.

Dye-sublimation printer

Dye-sublimation printer is a very high quality printer which can be used to print on paper, card, plastic, fabric etc. The basic principle is the heat transfer technology by which dye sits permanently on the desired materials.  This type of printer can be used to create posters, graphics, high quality photographs and t-shirts. The price and operation cost are normally very high.

Plotter printer

Plotter printer is not classified among the printers. Plotter printer can generate vector graphics. It uses automated pens instead of multiple dots. This type of printer is used for computer aided design. The price of this type of printer is high.

3D printer

3D printer has the capability of creating 3D objects of desired materials from the computer aided design (CAD). The technology is new. As a result, the initial and operating cost can be unaffordable. This type of printer is normally used for business purpose only.

LED printer

LED printers are updated version of laser printer. The LED uses light emitted diode instead of laser for creating the image. The number of moving parts is less than the laser printer which makes it more efficient and reliable than a laser printer. Most interesting fact about this type of printer is that it can cost less than a laser printer as the manufacturing cost is low. In fact, most of the printers in the market are LED printers.

If you are interested to know what makes a printer good and how you can choose a printer you can click here.

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