A printer is a device that converts electronic files into printed copies.

It is an output device that produces a hard copy output from the computer system.

A printer can also be defined as an external hardware device that takes computer data and converts it to a hard copy.

A printer prints the output data and information from the computer on paper.

Printers are used to print text, photos, and graphics and are one of the most often used computer devices.

A printer is usually connected to the computer as external hardware so that it can be given the command to print an electronic file on the screen.

Some printers are referred to as wired printers because they link to the computer via USB cable.

Others are wireless in that they do not require a USB cable to connect to a computer.

The majority of wireless printers connect to the computer via WiFi.

Types of printers

Dot matrix printers, inkjet printers, daisy wheel printers, laser printers, and so on are all examples of printers.

All of these printers, however, can be divided into two categories: impact and non-impact printers.

1. Impact printers: These printers create text and images by striking a ribbon and paper with hammers or pins.

They print characters and images on paper by striking a mechanism against an ink ribbon that physically contacts the paper.

Among the best-known, impact printers are dot matrices, daisy wheel, and line printers.

2. Non-impact printers: These produce text without physically striking the paper.

Among the best known non-impact printers are thermal, laser jet and inkjet printers.

Different kinds of printers

Laser printers, inkjet printers, thermal printers, dot-matrix and daisy wheels are just some of the different kinds of printers. 

Laser printer

This is used to print high-quality professional printings, such as DTP works, and documents.

It is a fast printer that prints images on paper using a laser beam.

Laser printer

A laser printer is very fast as it has more print more pages per minute than most printers.

Laser printers use toner instead of a printer and are known to require toner cartridges refill or replacement.

Most laser printers are page printers because they process and store the entire page before printing.

Advantages of a laser printer

1. The prints from laser printers are extremely dry

2. The cost per page of a laser printer is low

3. A laser printer is extremely fast, with speeds ranging from four to thirty pages per minute (PPM).

4. It has a large capacity as it can handle the high-volume output.

5. It produces less noise

Disadvantages of a laser printer

1. It requires a high level of maintenance

2. Toner cartridges are very costly.

3. It is very larger than inkjet printers and takes a lot of desk space.

4. Laser printers are not portable due to their heavy weight.

Inkjet printer

This operates by propelling or spraying different sizes of very small and precise amounts of ink into a piece of paper from a nozzle.

It's a non-impact printer that uses ink-filled cartridges to spray the ink onto a page via small holes known as nozzles.

The printing quality of inkjet printers is higher when compared to dot matrix printers.

Ink-jet printers usually have multiple ink cartridges ranging from two cartridges to eight cartridges.

Advantages of Inkjet printer

1. It produces a higher resolution capable of matching that of laser printers

2. It costs less than laser printers.

3. It is simple to use.

4. It warms up quickly.

5. Inkjet printers are compact and portable.

6. Ink jet printer produces lesser noise

7. Inkjet printer is somewhat suitable for colour printing.

Disadvantages of Inkjet printers.

1. The ink is wet after printing

2. Ink cartridges are fairly costly

3. Nozzles tend to clog.

Daisy wheel printer

As the name suggests, the daisy wheel printer uses the wheel as a print head. It is very similar to a ball-head typewriter.

Daisy wheel printer

To print, a hammer strikes the plastic or metal wheel against a ribbon, causing an ink stain in the shape of the character to appear on the paper.

The Daisy wheel printer creates letter-quality graphics as opposed to the dot-matrix printer, which is known for producing low-quality characters.

Advantages of daisy wheel printer

1. It can print letter quality characters

Disadvantages of daisy wheel printer

1. It is unable to print graphics. 

2. The printing speed is very slow ranging from 10 to 75 characters per second (CPS)

Thermal printer

This is a non-impact printer that uses heat to produce printer copies.

A thermal printer uses chemically-created papers that become black when heated.

Thermal printers have a longer life because they have fewer moving parts.

Advantages of thermal printer

1. It produces lesser noise

2.  It has a longer lifespan due to the limited number of moving parts

3. There are no ink or toner costs, so it is very cost-effective.

4. It prints relatively faster.

Disadvantages of thermal printer

1. Images produced by thermal printers are of poor quality.

2. Thermal papers are very costly.

Dot matrix printer

As its name seems to suggest, a dot matrix printer prints characters and images on paper by producing a pattern of dots.

It is very similar to a typewriter in the sense that it impacts the page to print a character.

A dot matrix printer is particularly used when the actual printer content is more important than the quality of print.

The print head of a dot matrix printer, which does the printing, usually has 24 pins. A dot matrix printer creates characters by striking these pins against an ink ribbon.

Most dot matrix printers run at a speed of 60 to 500 CPS (character Per Second)

Dot matrix printers are one of the most used serial printers.

The advantage of this type of printer is that it can easily create carbon copies because of the impact action of the printing process.

The cost per page of printing with dot matrix printers is also low

Advantages of the dot matrix printer

1. It is inexpensive due to the low cost per page of printing

2. It is suitable for multi-copy documents since it can easily print carbon copies.

Disadvantages of the dot matrix printer

1. It is generally noisy

2. Dot matrix printers print at a slow rate of 60 to 500 characters per second.

3. Dot matrix printers produce low-quality printouts

What determines the quality of printed images

The printer resolution determines the quality or sharpness of printed images or text.

The printer resolution is measured by DPI (Dots per Inch).

In general, the greater the resolution a printer produces, the more dots per inch it has.

What determines a printer's speed?

A printer's speed is determined by the number of pages it can print per minute (PPM).

PPM stands for page per minute and represents how many pages a printer can print in a minute.

A printer with a 15 PPM, for example, can print around 15 pages per minute.

The higher the PPM, the faster the printer is.

Please note that colour printouts take longer to print than black and white printouts.

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