Inkjet printers are ubiquitous items in homes, businesses, and institutions all around the globe. They are an affordable and reliable solution for many of our printing needs. Whether you’re printing out your favorite photos, documents for work, or school projects, an inkjet printer is bound to come in handy. Nonetheless, despite their popularity, not everyone fully understands what inkjet printers are and how they work. This article provides an overview of the invaluable tool, discussing their history, how they work, the different types with features and drawbacks.
The History of Inkjet Printers
Inkjet printing technology was developed in the 1950s though honed and commercialized during the mid-70s and 80s with the efforts of brands like Epson, Hewlett-Packard, and Canon. Over the years, these machines have evolved significantly, improving in efficiency, quality and becoming more affordable for the average consumer.
How Inkjet Printers Work
Inkjet printers work by propelling droplets of ink onto the paper. The ink is stored in cartridges which are separated by colors: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. The printer sprays the ink through nozzles, tiny holes in the cartridge, onto the paper as it moves past on the print rollers. The printer’s resolution is determined by the number of tiny droplets it can spray in a square inch (measured in DPI – dots per inch).
Thermal or Piezoelectric: The 2 Types of Inkjet Printers
Inkjet printers are primarily classified into two categories based on the technology used to propel ink onto the paper: thermal and piezoelectric.
1. Thermal inkjet printers: These printers use heat to force the ink out onto the paper. In the printhead, each ink outlet contains a tiny metal plate or resistor that heats the ink, causing it to vaporize into a bubble and forces a drop of ink onto the paper. Once the bubble collapses, a vacuum is created, which draws up more ink to repeat the process. Hewlett-Packard, Canon, and most other manufacturers use thermal inkjet technology.
2. Piezoelectric inkjet printers: This type of printer uses a piezo crystal, a material that changes shape or size when an electrical charge is applied. The adjustment in size or shape forces the ink out of the cartridge and onto the paper. Epson printers commonly use piezoelectric technology.
The Features & Drawbacks of Inkjet Printers
The biggest draw of inkjet printers lies in their versatility and affordability of initial purchase cost. They are capable of printing both text documents and high-quality color photos, which is especially useful for individuals or businesses that require a flexible printing solution. Additionally, their compact size makes them suitable for situations where space is limited.
However, operation costs can be high due to the cost of replacing the ink cartridges. Furthermore, the print speed of inkjet printers is typically slower than laser printers, and they may require a drying time before you can handle the printed material, especially for photo printing.
Understanding which type of inkjet printer suits your needs best is primarily based on what you intend to use it for and your budget. For practical use with occasional photos, the inexpensive initial cost and versatility of an inkjet printer often outweigh its ink costs and slower speeds. For businesses with daily high volume print tasks, a laser printer might be more cost-effective in the long run.
In conclusion, the inkjet printer has provided a convenient and affordable method for people to get their printing tasks done. Whether it’s printing a simple text document or a highly detailed photo, the inkjet printer has been a reliable tool that we can depend on. Despite the emergence of other advanced types of printers, inkjet printers continue to hold their ground and remain relevant, an indispensable tool in our homes and offices.