How Does An Inkjet Printer Work

You will find inkjet printers in almost all homes and offices to print photos, homework, invoices, newsletters, quotes, color business documents for business. But have you ever asked yourself how these printers work? The inkjet printers have been around since the early 1980s. They become popular because of cost and reliability. Plus, they are light and portable hence producing high-quality prints compared to other printers. In this post, we will discuss how inkjet printers work.

What is an Inkjet Printer?

Are you wondering how to know if the printer you are using is an inkjet printer? You can take a closer look to check the printout when it pops out of the printer. An inkjet printer sprays tiny droplets of ink onto the paper. These droplets combine to create the print the user desires.

The diameter of these droplets is about 50 to 60 microns. The printers spray the dots on the paper rather than touching the paper and print out the desired design and template. Nowadays, inkjet printers are gaining popularity due to their reliability and price.

How do Inkjet Printers Work?

Inkjet printers drop tiny ink droplets onto the paper, where many drops create the desired text and image. You can change the sizes and color of the droplets to make sharp and photo-realistic images.  You can check at the dots per inch (DPI) to gauge the printer’s resolution. The DPI will show you how many tiny droplets can fit along a single inch on the page. When the DPI is higher, that means the printer makes small dots and a sharper image.

Difference between Inkjet printer and Laser Printer

The main difference is that the inkjet printer uses ink to print papers, while the laser printer uses a laser to print papers. Each printer has a different speed, functions, and image quality. Unlike laser printers which use laser toner, inkjet printers use ink cartridges.

Parts of the Inkjet Printers

If you open an inkjet printer, you will find these components.

  • Print head- it is an essential part of the inkjet printer, which contains nozzles for spraying drops of ink onto the paper.
  • Ink cartridge- different printer models come with varying combinations of an ink cartridge. They include a cartridge for each ink color, separate black, and color, color, and black in the same cartridge.
  • Stepper motor- this motor helps move the ink cartridge and printhead forth and back across the paper.
  • Belt –the belt attaches the print head to the stepper motor.
  • Stabilizer bar- the inkjet printer has a stabilizer bar to ensure the printhead assembly’s price and controlled movement.
  • Paper tray/feeder – you will find the printer with either a tray or feeder to hold the papers.
  • Rollers- the rollers pull the paper in the print head assembly from the tray or feeder.
  • Power supply- a modern inkjet comes with an in-built power supply.
  • Control circuitry- the circuit decodes the information sent to the printer from the computer.
  • Interface ports- the inkjet printer uses cables that are connected using the USB port.

How does the Print head Work?

The inkjet printer’s essential part is the print head as it sprays the ink onto the papers. It is equipped with an array of closely-arranged microscopic nozzles to ensure it sprays the ink onto surfaces like canvas, paper, and fabric, among others.

The way of spraying ink onto a paper depends on the underlying technology. The technology used to spray ink is categorized into 3:

Piezoelectric Technology

Epson manufacturers use piezoelectric technology. If you are not using an Epson printer, you will not use this type of ink technology. The piezoelectric ink cartridge transmits a small electric charge to the piezo crystal found at the ink reservoir’s back. The electric charge makes the crystals vibrate inward, forcing a tiny ink to be sprayed out through the nozzle. If the crystal vibrates outwards, it pulls more ink out of the reservoir to replace the sprayed ink.

Thermal Bubble Technology

If you have a Canon or HP inkjet printer, this technology is being used in your ink cartridge. Since the method uses heat, it does not reach the paper; however, it is contained within the ink cartridge. The resistors in the cartridge create heat which vaporizes the ink into a bubble. As the bubble expands, it pushes ink out of the nozzle. Lastly, when the bubble pops, it makes a vacuum that pulls more ink to the cartridge head. Bubble jet print heads contain 300 to 600 tiny nozzles; they can fire a droplet. Most people are buying printers with this technology. The ink used is mostly water-based, dye-based, and pigment-based.

Continuous Inkjet Technology

This technology is used for marking and coding products and packages. A high-pressure pump directs the ink from the reservoir via a nozzle, creating a stream of the ink. The droplets are formed by a charging electrode and subjected to an electrostatic field are then deflected to the receptor material to be printed using electrostatic deflection plates.

Which papers are excellent for inkjet printers?

Inkjet printers deliver high-quality print on plain uncoated paper that is mainly used for different documents. Images can also be printed on plain paper, but you can use unique papers to achieve the excellent look of a photograph. The photographic papers are thicker compared to plain paper and are coated with a smooth surface. The special paper is designed to accommodate the inkjet ink.

Inks used in Inkjet printers

Printer ink is made of pigments, solvents, resins, waxes, varnish, and lubricants. The ink is stored in a cartridge. Different printer models come with a combination of ink cartridges. The inks that you can use in your inkjet printers include:

Pigment-based ink

The pigment-based ink comes in powder form then suspended into liquid form. When the ink is evaporated, it makes the print look attractive and appealing. The ink is mostly used in printing labels and professional photos. Unlike dye-based inks, the pigment ink printer resists ultraviolet light. You will find this ink in the Arrow Aquajet 330R printer to deliver the best quality prints.

Solvent ink

Although solvent ink is similar to pigment ink, the only difference is that solvent ink uses volatile organic compounds. Besides, the ink dries faster through evaporation hence resulting in high-speed printing. You can use this ink on uncoated vinyl surfaces, such as billboards and banners.

Ultraviolet (UV) ink

Ultraviolet ink is a combination of polymer powder and monomer liquid hence resulting in the acrylic monomer. You can prefer UV ink for UV printing since it contains acrylic monomer and photo-initiator. Unlike dye ink which evaporates, this ink is exposed to UV LED light to cause a chemical reaction which ensures the printer prints solid images and labels.

Dye-based ink

The dye-based ink has colorants that dissolve into deionized water. This ink is mostly used in industrial inkjet printers for everyday use printing. Most businesses prefer using this ink because it prints out high-quality labels.

Difference between “Page-width format” and “Wide-format”

Although small inkjet printers are known for home and office use, there are professional inkjet printers for page-width format printing and wide format printing. “page-width format” means the print width range between 8.5″to 37″ while “wide format” means print width range between 24″up to 15″.  The page-width inkjet printer is for printing vast business communication volumes such as billing, catalogs, and newspapers.  The wide-format inkjet printers are for printing advertising graphics and by architects or engineers to do minor designs.

Advantages of the Inkjet Printers

Most people are utilizing inkjet printers for several reasons. They include:

  • Inkjet inks- People prefer inkjet ink because it is fast-drying, allowing you to grab the sheet without smudging it.
  • Quiet Operation -Compared to dot matrix printers or daisy wheel printers, inkjet printers are quieter in operation.
  • High-quality prints- with the inkjet printer, you are assured of finer and smoother images through higher printhead resolution. Some printers also deliver photo realistic-quality color printing.
  • Affordable- unlike other pricey technologies such as color sublimation, thermal wax, or laser printers, inkjet printers do not require warm-up time and have reduced expense per page.
  • Ready to use after being turned on
  • It occupies less space since it is more compact for home office.

Disadvantages of the inkjet printers

  • Lightweight print heads- the inkjet printers are equipped with light print heads which are prone to clogging.
  • Inkjet cartridges are expensive-Most users prefer laser printers for their medium to huge volume application since the inkjet cartridges are expensive.
  • High bleeding- when ink is carried sideways away from the intended area, the result is a sloppy look on the paper.
  • They tend to be slower compared to laser printers.
  • It can only accommodate up to 100 sheets at a time.

Kind of Print Jobs to Use Your Inkjet Printer

The ink tends to be pricey compared to toner, so printing large volumes of black text is not the best option. Here are some things you can print with your inkjet printer:

  • Paper that requires a slow print speed
  • Duplexing label sheets
  • High-quality color photographs

Don’t use an inkjet printer for:

  • Long print jobs
  • Barcode labels sheets.
  • Glossy paper

Final Word

The article has a short overview of how an inkjet printer works. Now that you understand inkjet printer operation, you can improve its efficiency by finding the best ink cartridge and technology to create high-quality and durable images and text.

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