Getting to Know Inkjet Printers

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Inkjet printers were born in the 1980s, replacing the popular dot matrix printer. Inkjet printers drop droplets of ink onto printer paper to produce text and images. The drops of ink are actually smaller than the width of a strand of hair, so don't expect to actually see individual droplets on your printouts. It's not like the older dot matrix, which produced much larger drops of ink.

There are several major printer technologies- the two largest categories being impact and non-impact. As you probably guessed, impact printers work by actually touching the paper to produce text and images. Dot matrix printers fall in this category. Non impact printers never actually touch the paper. Both inkjet and laser printers fall into this category.

So what makes an inkjet printer work? There are several key components found in all inkjet printers that make them tick. The most important and fragile piece of any printer is the print head. It contains the ink-emitting nozzles. The ink cartridges hold the actual ink that is fed into the head. The stepper motor powers the print head, propelling it back and forth across the paper. A stabilizer bar ensures that that the movements of the print head are controlled and precise.

Paper is fed into the printer via a feeder. The paper is pulled inside the printer by several rollers. Of course, none of these components would function without power. Most printers use standard power supply. Your computer talks to the printer through interface ports, most commonly, the USB port.

Bill Smith is an expert on printers and ink cartridges. Visit to learn more about printers.

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