How Printers Work
Printing a document is something to which people never give much thought. You click a few buttons and, barring a lack of ink or a paper jam, your paper is printed a few seconds later.
Behind this seemingly simple process, however, are impressive pieces of technology.
Regardless of which type of printer you are using , a few features are common to all types of printing. For instance, software known as a driver or processor is responsible for sending the information from the computer to the actual printer. The driver ensures that the printer is connected to the computer and converts the data into a format the printer understands. The driver/processor is what enables applications to print without having to take into account the technical details of each printer model.
Once the information is translated, it is sent from the driver/processor, usually over a USB cable, to the actual printer. The computer can send data to the printer faster than the printer can print, which is where the buffer comes in. The printer buffer is an area of memory in a printer that stores output from the computer until it can be printed. After the data are sent, the printer will store them in a buffer until the transmission is complete and the document is ready to be printed .
When the printer has all the data, the printer engages its motors and the rollers inside the printer draw a piece of paper down into the machine.
There are two major types of printing: inkjet and laser.
Inkjets are the more simple option of the two types of printing. They work by using tiny droplets of ink to create a complete image on the page. The ink is contained in cartridges containing the colors black, yellow, cyan (a greenish blue) and magenta (a purplish red). These cartridges are held inside the printer in a piece known as the print head. This is where several nozzles spray the drops of ink onto the paper.
Laser printers tend to be a bit more complex, relying on static electricity and toner, a mixture of color and a plastic powder. A revolving drum, known as the photoreceptor, sends out light photons and picks up an electrical current in the process. While the drum spins, a small laser beam shines across its surface and creates the images that will be printed on the drum.
Once the image is set, the printer puts toner on the drum. The toner is given a positive electrical charge so that it will stick only to the areas on the drum that are negatively charged. Once the toner is in place, a piece of paper is moved into position, during which it receives a negative charge. Due to its stronger charge, the paper ends up pulling the toner off the drum, creating the image on the paper.
During the last and final step, the paper passes through heated rollers, which melt the toner powder and ultimately bond it to the paper to create your printed page.