All businesses, whether large or small, and most home users need a printer linked to their computer(s). We are not talking about huge amounts of printing where you would go to a professional printer; this is for home & office use. Nowadays all offices are computerised, but most are not paperless. They print hundred of documents, whether they be letters, copies of letters, reports, print outs of emails or of web pages, invoices, spreadsheets, images & photographs - the list is endless.
Many years ago people used carbon paper to make copies of letters that they typed. Today people produce a letter or email on their PC or laptop and either just store the information on their computer or print another copy for filing. Everything used to be black & white - the first colour copiers and then printers were very expensive but now with demand the prices have come down.
Computer Printers are either linked to a computer by a cable, network or have a wireless connection. Some also act as scanners, fax machines and copiers.
There are 5 main types of printer based on how the toner or ink gets onto the paper:
Laser:- Laser printer use a laser beam to create the image obtaining small particles of toner from a cartridge and placing that toner onto the paper. Laser Printers are relatively fast and produce high quality text and graphics in either black & white or colour, on plain paper. The toner cartridges can be quite expensive.
Inkjet:- Inkjet printers work by forcing variably sized drops of ink onto paper. They don't need a ribbon or toner cartridge. They are very popular as the cost is low, they are easy to use and the quality is good (although not as good as a laser printer). Most All-in-one Printers, that is printers that are also copiers and scanners, are inkjet printers.
Dot-matrix:- Dot-matrix Printers are similar to old typewriters. They produce characters by striking pins against an ink ribbon. Each pin makes a dot, and combinations of dots form characters and illustrations. They are quite slow and noisy; the printing involves mechanical pressure, so these printers are often used for printing invoices or multicopy forms. They're not practical for home use.
Thermal:- Thermal printer pushes heated pins against heat-sensitive paper. Many fax machines are thermal printers are. They print faster and more quietly than dot matrix printers and can also be more economical since their only consumable is the paper itself.
Plotters:- Pen Plotters print by moving a pen across the surface of a piece of paper. They are a good way to produce very large drawings efficiently or color high-resolution vector-based artwork.
Printers have two main consumables - paper and ink. Very few printers or copiers require special coated paper so as long as the paper is of reasonable quality, usually 80gsm, any make will do. Ink and toner cartridges are a different matter altogether. Most printer suppliers recommend their own brand but there are many different offerings available on the market. The challenge that you have is to establish the quality of the ink or toner from each particular supplier. The internet has helped with this as you can often find testimonials for companies with good or bad reviews.
Phil Stilliard runs Computability Richmond Ltd providing & repairing PCs, Macs, laptops, networks, peripherals & printers since 1997. Our Online Catalogue offers computers, accessories, components, printers, cartridges, consumables, software, security, office equipment, furniture, stationery.