is aperipheralwhich produces a representation of an electronic document onphysical media such as paper or transparency film. Many printers are local peripheralsconnected directly to a nearby personal computer.
have built-innetworkinterfaces can serve any user on the network. Individual printers are oftendesigned to support both local and network connected users at the same time. Someprinters can print documents stored onmemory cardsor fromdigitalcamerasandscanners.Multifunction printers(MFPs) include a scanner and can copy paperdocuments or send afax;these are also called multi-function devices (MFD), or all-in-one(AIO) printers. Most MFPs includeprinting,scanning, and copying among their manyfeatures.Consumer and some commercial printers are designed for low-volume, short-turnaroundprint jobs;requiring virtually no setup time to achieve a hard copy of a givendocument. However, printers are generally slow devices (30 pages per minute is consideredfast, and many inexpensive consumer printers are far slower than that), and the cost perpage is actually relatively high. However, this is offset by the on-demand convenience andproject management costs being more controllable compared to an out-sourced solution.Theprinting pressremains the machine of choice for high-volume, professional publishing.However, as printers have improved in quality and performance, many jobs which used tobe done by professional print shops are now done by users on local printers; seedesktoppublishing.Local printers are also increasingly taking over the process of photofinishingasdigital photo printers become commonplace.The world's first computer printer was a 19th century mechanically driven apparatusinvented byCharles Babbagefor hisdifference engine.Avirtual printeris a piece of computer software whose user interface andAPIresemblesthat of a printer driver, but which is not connected with a physical computer printer.
Printers can be classified by the printer technology they employ, with many techniquesbeing available as commercial products. The choice of print technology has a great effect onthe cost of the printer and cost of operation, speed, quality and permanence of documents,and noise. Some printer technologies don't work with certain types of physical media, suchascarbon paperortransparencies.A second aspect of printer technology that is often forgotten is resistance to alteration:liquidink,such as from an inkjet head or fabric ribbon, becomes absorbed by the paperfibers, so documents printed with liquid ink are more difficult to alter than documentsprinted with toner or solid inks, which do not penetrate below the paper surface.Cheques can be printed with liquid ink or on special cheque paper with toner anchorage sothat alterations may be detected. The machine-readable lower portion of a cheque must beprinted usingMICRtoner or ink. Banks and other clearing houses employ automationequipment that relies on themagnetic fluxfrom these specially printed characters tofunction properly.
The followingprintingtechnologies are routinely found in modern printers:
Alaser printerrapidly produces high quality text and graphics. As with digital photocopiersand multifunction printers (MFPs), laser printers employ axerographicprinting process butdiffer from analog photocopiers in that the image is produced by the direct scanning of alaserbeam across the printer'sphotoreceptor.Another toner-based printer is theLED printerwhich uses an array of LEDsinstead of alaserto cause toneradhesionto the print drum.
Liquid Inkjet Printers
Inkjet printersoperate by propelling variably sized droplets of liquid ink onto almost anysized page. They are the most common type of computer printer used by consumers.
Solid Ink Printers
Solid inkprinters, also known as phase-change printers, are a type of thermal transferprinter.They use solid sticks of CMYK-colored ink, similar in consistency to candle wax,which are melted and fed into a piezo crystal operated print-head. The print head sprays theink on a rotating, oil coated drum. The paper then passes over the print drum, at which timethe image is immediately transferred, or transfixed, to the page. Solid ink printers are mostcommonly used as color office printers, and are excellent at printing on transparencies andother non-porous media. Solid ink printers can produce excellent results. Acquisition andoperating costs are similar to laser printers. Drawbacks of the technology includehighenergy consumptionand long warm-up times from a cold state. Also, some userscomplain that the resulting prints are difficult to write on, as the wax tends to repel inksfrompens,and are difficult to feed throughautomatic document feeders,but these traitshave been significantly reduced in later models. In addition, this type of printer is onlyavailable from one manufacturer,Xerox,manufactured as part of theirXerox Phaserofficeprinter line. Previously,solid inkprinters were manufactured byTektronix,but Tek sold theprinting business to Xerox in 2001.
A dye-sublimation printer (or dye-sub printer) is a printer which employs a printing processthat uses heat to transfer dye to a medium such as a plastic card, paper orcanvas.Theprocess is usually to lay one color at a time using a ribbon that has color panels. Dye-subprinters are intended primarily for high-quality color applications, including colorphotography; and are less well-suited for text. While once the province of high-end printshops, dye-sublimation printers are now increasingly used as dedicated consumer photoprinters.