How Does An Inkjet Printer Work

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Many people anticipated computers would render paper obsolete twenty or thirty years ago. In the 1960s, the Xerox firm, which invented photocopiers, became so concerned that paper would disappear (and with it, its profitable industry), that it established the famous PARC laboratory to develop computers instead.

Despite the fact that Xerox PARC contributed to the development of the computers we use today, the paper remained as popular as ever: people loved it, and it was an easy innovation to replace.

More people have printing machines in their homes than ever before, thanks to the popularity of home computers and digital cameras, and the majority of them are inkjet printers. But how do they function?

Short answer

Each inkjet printer has a print head with thousands of tiny holes. These tiny apertures spray microscopic ink droplets onto the printer paper at a rapid rate.

Inkjet printers employ a liquid ink made from either a colored dye or a liquid containing suspended solid pigments.

Before inkjet printing

It’s easier to understand inkjet printers if you know how computer printers worked before inkjet technology. This necessitates an understanding of the metal type and the computer printers that resulted.

Printing with metal type

Let’s go back a few centuries, to the 15th century. Before 1450, there had been some small-scale printing with wooden blocks, but printing truly took off when a German printer named Johannes Gutenberg (c.1400–1468) produced a movable metal type. Metal type is familiar to everyone who has seen a typewriter (a personal letter-writing machine used before computers arrived in the 1980s). A typewriter features a keyboard similar to that of a computer, but instead of displaying letters on the screen one at a time, it prints them directly onto the paper.

Metal letters known as pieces of type are found inside the typewriter. The type parts bang against an inked ribbon (a spool of cloth) as you press the keys, leaving an impression on the paper. Metal type was invented by Gutenberg. He created millions of small metal letters (written in relief and reverse) and moved them around inside wooden blocks to produce any page he wanted—hence the term “movable metal type.”

Typewriters, which were based on Gutenberg’s invention, were popular in the 1860s after American journalist Christopher Latham Sholes (1819–1890) and his colleagues developed the first truly practical type of machine (dozens of other people had tried before).

Despite being a fantastic invention, typewriters could only make one duplicate of a piece of information at a time. Typing was slow and dirty because it printed straight into the paper, and mistakes were difficult to fix.

Many individuals were interested in using business computers as word processors when they first became popular in the 1960s: highly automated typewriters that allowed the material to be typed onto a screen, edited and corrected until it was perfect, and then printed out onto paper.

Impact printing

Early computer printers were primarily influenced by typewriter technology, but it became clear that faster and more efficient printing technologies were required. Instead of hammering letters against the page with rows of metal levers like a typewriter, computer printers (and related electronic typewriters) began to use three different technologies.

The golf ball was one of them. On the surface of a metal ball, the golf ball typewriter or printer has all the letters, numbers, and other characters it needs to print.

The ball revolves at a fast speed until the proper piece of type is facing the paper to print a word. The type is then smashed against a ribbon, pushing the letter onto the page. After that, it moves on to the next letter… and so on.

The daisy wheel was the second printing technique, in which type letters are placed like flowers around a central wheel. The daisy wheel rotates at a rapid speed, stopping to press letters against the ribbon when they are in the correct position, similar to a golf ball.

From the 1970s to the early 1990s, a third printing technology known as dot-matrix was prevalent. There is no metal type in a dot-matrix printer. Instead, a matrix (a square or rectangular grid) of several dozen metal needles press against a ribbon in various patterns to create whatever letter, number, or other character is needed. Dot-matrix printers provide a distinctive “dotty” print finish that can still be found on bills, invoices, and railway or movie theater tickets. They were quick and affordable to acquire and use, but they were incredibly noisy.

Difference between Inkjet printer and Laser Printer

The major distinction is that an inkjet printer prints with ink, whereas a laser printer prints using a laser. Each printer differs in terms of speed, features, and image quality. Inkjet printers, unlike laser printers, use ink cartridges instead of laser toner.

Parts of the Inkjet Printers

These components can be found within an inkjet printer.

  • The print head is a component of an inkjet printer that has nozzles for spraying ink drops onto the paper.
  • Ink cartridges are available in a variety of combinations depending on the printer model. They come with a cartridge for each ink color, as well as separate black and color, color, and black cartridges.
  • The ink cartridge and printhead are moved back and forth across the paper by a stepper motor.
  • The print head is connected to the stepper motor by a belt.
  • The inkjet printer contains a stabilizer bar to ensure that the printhead assembly is priced correctly and moves smoothly.
  • Paper tray/feeder – To hold the papers, the printer has either a tray or a feeder.
  • The rollers in the print head assembly pull the paper in from the tray or feeder.
  • A modern inkjet printer includes a built-in power supply.
  • Control circuitry decodes the information received from the computer to the printer.
  • Interface ports- the inkjet printer connects to the computer via USB connections.

How does the Print head Work?

The print head is an important component of an inkjet printer since it sprays ink onto the paper. It has a series of small nozzles that spray the ink onto a variety of media, including canvas, paper, and cloth.

The method for spraying ink onto paper is determined by the technology used. Spray ink technology is divided into three categories as the following:

Piezoelectric Technology

Epson items are made with piezoelectric technology. If you don’t have an Epson printer, you won’t be able to use these inks. Piezoelectric ink cartridges control the flow of ink by transmitting a small electrical charge to the piezo crystal behind the ink reservoir. An ink droplet is driven out via the nozzle by vibrating the crystals. When the crystal vibrates outward, it takes ink from the reservoir to replace the ink that has been sprayed.

Thermal Bubble Technology

This technology is employed in your ink cartridge if you use a Canon or HP inkjet printer. The process does not reach the paper since it employs heat; nevertheless, it is confined within the ink cartridge. The cartridge’s resistors generate heat, which causes the ink to evaporate and form a bubble. Ink is pushed out of the nozzle as the bubble swells. Finally, as the bubble pops, a vacuum is created, which draws more ink to the cartridge head. Bubblejet print heads include 300 to 600 small nozzles, each capable of firing a single droplet. The majority of individuals are purchasing printers that use this technology. Water-based, dye-based, and pigment-based inks are widely used.

Continuous Inkjet Technology

Products and packages are marked and coded using this technology. A high-pressure pump creates a stream of ink by directing it from the reservoir through a nozzle. The droplets are generated by a charging electrode and then deflected to the receptor material to be printed using electrostatic deflection plates after being exposed to an electric field.

Which papers are excellent for inkjet printers?

Inkjet printers produce high-quality prints on uncoated plain paper, which is commonly used for various documents. Images can be printed on simple paper, but distinctive papers can give a shot a more professional aspect. Photographic sheets are thicker than regular paper and have a smooth surface coating. The inkjet ink is accommodated by the specific paper.

Inks used in Inkjet printers

Pigments, solvents, resins, waxes, varnish, and lubricants make up printer ink. An ink cartridge holds the ink. A variety of ink cartridges are included with various printer models. You can use the following Inks in your inkjet printers:

Pigment-based ink

The pigment-based ink starts off as a powder and is then suspended in a liquid. When the ink evaporates, the print becomes more inviting and enticing. Labels and professional pictures are the most common uses for ink. The pigment ink printer, unlike dye-based inks, is resistant to ultraviolet light. This ink is used in the Arrow Aquajet 330R printer to produce high-quality printouts.

Solvent ink

The only distinction between solvent ink and pigment ink is that solvent ink uses volatile organic chemicals. Furthermore, the ink dries faster due to evaporation, allowing for high-speed printing. This ink can be used on uncoated vinyl surfaces like billboards and banners.

Ultraviolet (UV) ink

The acrylic monomer is created by combining polymer powder and monomer liquid in ultraviolet ink. UV ink, which comprises acrylic monomer and photo-initiator, is recommended for UV printing. Unlike dye ink, which evaporates, this ink undergoes a chemical reaction when exposed to UV LED light, ensuring that the printer creates solid images and labels.

Dye-based ink

Colorants in the dye-based ink disintegrate in deionized water. This ink is primarily used in industrial how does an inkjet printer operate applications. This ink is preferred by most businesses because it produces high-quality labels.

Kind of Print Jobs to Use Your Inkjet Printer

Because the ink is more expensive than toner, printing vast amounts of black text are not the greatest solution. Here are some examples of what your inkjet printer can print:

  • Paper that needs to be printed slowly
  • Label sheets with duplexing
  • Photographs in high-resolution color

Inkjet printers should not be used for:

  • Barcode label sheets for long print jobs
  • lustrous paper

See also: Laser printer VS Inkjet

Final Words

The article provides a brief description of how an inkjet printer operates. Now that you know how inkjet printers work, you can increase their efficiency by picking the best ink cartridge and technology for producing high-quality, long-lasting images and text.

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