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Inkjet Printers

Because Laser printers use a process similar to photography, they will always produce higher resolution results than inkjets printers. Laser printers are also faster than inkjet printers. Laser printers cost less to operate because inkjet cartridges are expensive and need to be changed more frequently than toner cartridges, and because special coated paper is required to produce high-quality output on an inkjet printer.

HP Color Inkjet Printer

But the initial cost of an inkjet printer is much less than a laser printer, and inkjet printers are required for certain projects, for example they can handle heavy cardstock better for producing greeting cards. An inkjet printer is also required to print on iron-on transfer paper. Laser printers can't be used to print on iron-on transfer paper because they use heat.

In operation, a print head moves horizontally across the page and colored ink droplets are squirted at the paper. Inkjet print heads contain between 300 and 600 nozzles, each about the diameter of a human hair. Typically between four and eight cyan, magenta, yellow, and black colored ink droplets are combined to create halftone colors.

The print head doesn’t print just a single row of pixels, but a vertical row of pixels in each pass. The paper is then advanced to print the next vertical strip. Since paper is 8.5 inches wide, at a minimum 300 dpi, there are about 2,475 dots across the page.

There are two main inkjet technologies, thermal and piezo-electric. Thermal technology (referred to as Bubblejet by Canon), uses silicon wafer heating elements to rapidly super heat and vaporise a small volume of ink. The vaporised ink expands, forcing tiny droplets through a nozzle.

Thermal inkjet technology

Epson Color Inkjet Printer

Epson uses a proprietary piezo electric technology. Piezo technology applies an electric charge to a piezo electric crystal. The electric charge causes the piezo electric crystal to flex, forcing an ink droplet out the nozzle.

Piezo electric inkjet technology

The piezo electric process allows more control over the shape and size of ink droplets. Also, the ink doesn't have to be heated, which allows greater freedom in the formulation of the ink.

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