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What is a Laser Printer, and How Does it Work?

Many computer and technology experts believe that we will no longer need physical documents in the future. Everything will be completely digital, so we won’t have to print any more text documents, art pieces, designs, flyers, or anything else we can physically hold in our hands.

Every year, we move closer and closer to that reality, but we aren’t speeding towards it. A completely 100% digital world won’t be here until 2050, at least, and it probably takes longer, so printed papers still hold value in the world we live in now.

And since you live in the year 2021, you will need a printer to print. But which one should you use? There are thousands of printers out on the market today, so there’s one out there that fits your needs. One popular type of printer that may be able to fit your needs is a laser printer.

Laser Printers can be a great basic printer for people who are new to computers or an advanced machine that is ready to take on any print job you throw at it. But what is a laser printer, and how does it work?

What is a laser printer?

For those who are fans of lasers, you will be happy to know that the laser printer lives up to its name. Laser Printers use small beams of light, or lasers, to permanently draw text or images onto paper.

Light-based printing is not a new technology, as it has been around since 1969. It was invented by an employee who worked at xerox. Xerox was already an important company, as it created and manufactured copy machines.

If technology was on a family tree, the laser would be quite close to the photocopier.

So how does a laser printer work exactly?

With the power of electrons, lasers, electrical charges, heat, and fuser rolls, and many other moving parts, a laser printer can print any file the user commands. But how exactly does that happen?

Well, first, the laser printer must receive a design to print. Once the user sends over a printable file, a microchip called an electronic circuit translates the file into the printer’s language.

Once the microchip processes the file, it is time to print. A charge roller activates to create electron charges and then places those charges on the surface of another part of the printer called the photoconductor drum. Each photoconductor drum is specially created for that specific type of printer.

A laser within the printer strikes against the photoconductor drum millions and millions of times. Some lasers strike the photoconductor drum 60 million times or more. This process creates an electrostatic image that is uncharged.

Now it is time for the printer to work with the toner. A developer role is coated with toner by the toner adder roll. It also negatively charged the developer role.

Before the developer role and the photoconductor drum can come into contact, a doctor blade must remove all of the excess toners so that the amount of toner that coats the developer roll is only fifteen microns high.

Now that the photoconductor drum and the developer role can come together, the uncharged photoconductor drum and the negatively charged toner on the developer roll are attracted to each other.

Now, the paper can come into play. As the paper is rolled between the photoconductor drum and the transfer roller, the transfer roller contributes a weak positive charge, so the negatively charged toner can transfer from the drum onto the paper’s surface.

After the entire image is printed on the paper, the paper must pass through the fuser rollers. These rollers superheat to above 200C degrees so that they can melt the toner onto the paper.

After the paper passes through the fuser rollers, it is placed onto the tray so the user can retrieve it.

How a laser printer resets its components for a new file

The entire process above is how a laser printer prints file onto paper. But now that the photoconductor drum, toner adder roll, and the developer role have all been used, these components must be reset so that the user of the printer can print a new file.

There is a cleaning blade that scrapes all of the excess toners off of the photoconductor drum. The developer role has all excess toner scraped off of its surface by the doctor blade, so it is clean.

It is quite amazing that this entire process takes less than a minute to complete. Also, because toner is not a liquid, there is no need for the user of the printer to retrieve their paper on what their design is printed and set it aside to dry.

What type of ink or dye does a laser printer use?

All laser printers use toner to print. Toner is not a liquid dye. Instead, it is a powder dye made up of organic compounds. All printer users need to know that most people, including printer salespeople, use ink and toner interchangeably. 

While ink and toner both do the same job, ink is much different than toner. Someone with a laser printer cannot use ink to print, and someone with an inkjet printer cannot use toner to print.

Bonus! Here are a few tips to improve your laser print experience:

  • If a document comes out of a laser printer with visible brushstrokes and flaky toner, then there is something wrong with the fuser. The fuser is the part of the printer that superheats so the toner can dye the paper.
  • If a printer experience is a lot of [aper jams, it usually means the mechanisms that handle the paper are dirty and must be cleaned.
  • If there’s a lot of excess toner on the paper and lines thicker than it should, it is most likely that the doctor’s blade did not remove all of the excess toners. Repairing the doctor blue requires the help of a professional.


Using a laser printer can be simple or difficult, depending on the type of software installed in the printer you buy. When you buy a laser printer, check out the review on that printer and its brand. And never set your printer down in a humid area.

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