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"A printer is an external output device that takes data from a computer and generates output in the form of graphics / text on a paper".
There are two types of printers.
An impact printer makes contact with the paper. It usually forms the print image by pressing an inked ribbon against the paper using a hammer or pins. Following are some examples of impact printers.
The dot-matrix printer uses print heads containing from 9 to 24 pins. These pins produce patterns of dots on the paper to form the individual characters. The 24 pin dot-matrix printer produces more dots that a 9 pin dot-matrix printer, which results in much better quality and clearer characters. The general rule is: the more pins, the clearer the letters on the paper. The pins strike the ribbon individually as the print mechanism moves across the entire print line in both directions, i-e, from left to right, then right to left, and so on. The user can produce a color output with a dot-matrix printer (the user will change the black ribbon with a ribbon that has color stripes). Dot-matrix printers are inexpensive and typically print at speeds of 100-600 characters per second.
In order to get the quality of type found on typewriters, a daisy-wheel impact printer can be used. It is called daisy-wheel printer because the print mechanism looks like a daisy; at the end of each “Petal” is a fully formed character which produces solid-line print. A hammer strikes a “petal” containing a character against the ribbon, and the character prints on the paper. Its speed is slow typically 25-55 characters per second.
In business where enormous amount of material are printed, the character-at-a-time printers are too slow; therefore, these users need line-at-a-time printers. Line printers, or line-at-a-time printers, use special mechanism that can print a whole line at once; they can typically print the range of 1,200 to 6,000 lines per minute. Drum, chain, and band printers are line-at-a-time printers.
A drum printer consists of a solid, cylindrical drum that has raised characters in bands on its surface. The number of print positions across the drum equals the number available on the page. This number typically ranges from 80-132 print positions. The drum rotates at a rapid speed. For each possible print position there is a print hammer located behind the paper. These hammers strike the paper, along the ink ribbon, against the proper character on the drum as it passes. One revolution of the drum is required to print each line. This means that all characters on the line are not printed at exactly the same time, but the time required to print the entire line is fast enough to call them line printers. Typical speeds of drum printers are in the range of 300 to 2000 lines per minute.
A chain printer uses a chain of print characters wrapped around two pulleys. Like the drum printer, there is one hammer for each print position. Circuitry inside the printer detects when the correct character appears at the desired print location on the page. The hammer then strikes the page, pressing the paper against a ribbon and the character located at the desired print position. An impression of the character is left on the page. The chain keeps rotating until all the required print positions on the line have filled. Then the page moves up to print the next line. Speeds of chain printers range from 400 to 2500 characters per minute.
A band printer operates similar to chain printer except it uses a band instead of a chain and has fewer hammers. Band printer has a steel band divided into five sections of 48 characters each. The hammers on a band printer are mounted on a cartridge that moves across the paper to the appropriate positions. Characters are rotated into place and struck by the hammers. Font styles can easily be changed by replacing a band or chain.
Non-impact printers do not use a striking device to produce characters on the paper; and because these printers do not hammer against the paper they are much quieter. Following are some non-impacted printers.
Ink-jet printers work in the same fashion as dot-matrix printers in the form images or characters with little dots. However, the dots are formed by tiny droplets of ink. Ink-jet printers form characters on paper by spraying ink from tiny nozzles through an electrical field that arranges the charged ink particles into characters at the rate of approximately 250 characters per second. The ink is absorbed into the paper and dries instantly. Various colors of ink can also be used.
One or more nozzles in the print head emit a steady stream of ink drops. Droplets of ink are electrically charged after leaving the nozzle. The droplets are then guided to the paper by electrically charged deflecting plates [one plate has positive charge (upper plate) and the other has negative charge (lover plate)]. A nozzle for black ink may be all that’s needed to print text, but full-color printing is also possible with the addition of needed to print text, but full-color printing is also possible with the addition three extra nozzles for the cyan, magenta, and yellow primary colors. If a droplet isn’t needed for the character or image being formed, it is recycled back to its input nozzle.
Several manufacturers produce color ink-jet printer. Some of these printers come with all their color inks in a cartridge; if you want to replace on color, you must replace all the colors. Other color ink-jet printers allow you to replace ink individually. These printers are a better choice if user uses one color more than other colors. These printers produce less noise and print in better quality with greater speed.
A laser printer works like a photocopy machine. Laser printers produce images on paper by directing a laser beam at a mirror which bounces the beam onto a drum. The drum has a special coating on it to which toner (an ink powder) sticks. Using patterns of small dots, a laser beam conveys information from the computer to a positively charged drum to become neutralized. From all those areas of drum which become neutralized, the toner detaches. As the paper rolls by the drum, the toner is transferred to the paper printing the letters or other graphics on the paper. A hot roller bonds the toner to the paper.
Laser printers use buffers that store an entire page at a time. When a whole page is loaded, it will be printed. The speed of laser printers is high and they print quietly without producing much noise. Many home-use laser printers can print eight pages per minute, but faster and print approximately 21,000 lines per minute, or 437 pages per minute if each page contains 48 lines. When high speed laser printers were introduced they were expensive. Developments in the last few years have provided relatively low-cost laser printers for use in small businesses.
Advantages of Laser Printer
- The main advantage of Laser printer is its speed & efficiency at which it prints high-quality quality graphics & text.
- Laser printers produce high-quality output as compared to other printers.
- Laser printers are quite and does not produce disturbing sounds.
- They are also capable to produce color prints.
Disadvantages of Laser Printer
- The main disadvantage of Laser printer is its cost, they are relatively costly as compared to other printers.
- The maintenance, repair & servicing charges are also high of these printers.
- Laser printers emit small amount of ozone and are hazardous to health and the atmosphere.