Types of Printers

Today, there are quite a few types of printers on the market. On the one hand, it is good for you as a customer, as you can choose from this variety of different printer models, the “tailor-made” one for you.

On the other hand, this also results in the proverbial “qual of choice” – because, with such a selection, it is often difficult to decide on the right type of printer. Many models, types and functions also raise many questions.

To make your selection a little easier, we have summarized the most well-known and common types of printers and their properties concisely and clearly.


What Are The Different Types of Printers?

Inkjet printer

Inkjet printer

Inkjet printers are now present in many households and are therefore among the most well-known types of printers. They are mostly used for printing texts and photos, as they have excellent print quality. Can also print CDs and DVDs, for example, if they have a printable surface.

Nowadays, inkjet printers print mostly in colour; they are also called inkjet printers. The ink from the printer cartridge is sprayed point-shaped onto the paper printed through the print head.

The biggest advantage of inkjet printers is their low purchase price, which is compensated for by the high cost of ink cartridges if they cannot be refilled. Therefore, a purchase is more worthwhile with a not too high print volume of fewer than 200 pages per month with a certain amount of pictures and photos.

Detailed information on the structure and function of inkjet printers can be found here.


Laser printer 

They are also very common in households and are among the most common printers with inkjet printers. They are particularly suitable for multi-printer printers, as the follow-up costs for the toner or the toner cartridges, for example, are low. However, the purchase price is higher.

Nowadays, there are also laser printers that print in colour. An additional disadvantage compared to the inkjet printer is lower print quality. The speed is very high, which is why the laser printer is particularly worthwhile for offices and large page numbers with text (as long as there is no paper jam, which has to be fixed).

In laser printers, the print image is transferred to an image drum by a laser beam, which remains stuck in electrically charged places and is then transferred to the paper by a rolling motion. The powder is then fixed on the paper by a fuser unit.


Thermal printer 

Thermal printer 

The thermal printers’ family includes the thermal sublimation printer on the one hand and the thermal transfer printer on the other.

In the term sublimation printer, paint is evaporated from the ribbon by heating to the printing medium. Heat-sensitive thermal paper is also required. The print image becomes very sharp, so these printers are often used in the photo industry.

Another advantage is that this type of printer can be built very compactly and is therefore suitable for printing receipts. However, the font usually fades after six months. Besides, it is special about the term sublimation printer that it can also print textiles and T-shirts.

Prints created with a thermal transfer printer, on the other hand, are much longer-lasting and also have good quality. When printing, a thermal transfer printer melts colour foils and puts them on paper. However, this procedure is costly. It can be used as a photo printer. Besides, such a printer is used when printing barcodes.


LED printer 

This works similarly to the laser printer, but it has an LED band instead of a laser. LED printers’ advantages are long service life, document-like documents (because the toner is burned directly onto the paper) and a high printing speed.

As an alternative to the office’s LED printer, there is also the gel printer, which Ricoh developed. It works by melting solid blocks of gel-bound ink and pressing through the relatively large print head at high pressure.

The gel printer is an attempt to combine the advantages of inkjet and laser printers. However, disadvantages are on the one hand the slow printing speed and on the other hand the high cost of cartridges, since Ricoh is currently the only supplier for these.


Impact printer 

Impact printers’ family consists of the ball head printer, the needle printer, and the type wheel printer, but it is already relatively outdated.

The ball head printer uses a method derived from the typewriter. The signs are affixed to the print head as a stamp. However, this type of printer has now largely been replaced by newer types of printers.

The needle printer, also called a matrix printer, also uses an outdated method. The print head of the needle printer consists of several needles that create punches. In black and white printing, 9 needles are usually used and in coloured 24.

Needle printers can be used to create letters and graphics. Since continuous paper is used, these printers are lovely for medical practices and companies. The downside, however, is the loud noise.

In the type wheel printer, a hammer with letters hits the paper through a ribbon of paint. The so-called types on the hammer can be exchanged to get different fonts. The print image is sharp, but only normal font or straight lines and shapes can be printed. Besides, the print speed is plodding, so type wheel printers are hardly used nowadays.


Other known printer types

There are also label printers that are used to print labels and stickers using ribbons.

The all-in-one printer refers to printers that both print, copy and scan. Sometimes they can also fax.

Besides, there are 3D printers nowadays, which can print some three-dimensionally applying layers on top of each other. 3D printers work computer-controlled and use chemical or physical curing or melting processes.


What are the additional features of the different types of printers?

(up)A duplex printer is a printer that can print on two sides.

A Wi-Fi printer can be operated via Wi-Fi and a network printer, which can also be connected locally to the network.

An AirPrint printer can be operated wirelessly using the specially developed feature for printing by Apple.

Virtual printers are programs that use an operation in which the selected document is not actually printed but stored as an (online) document in a specific format.

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