If someone offered you £100 to explain how your printer works, could you?

Countless times you have pressed one button and a printer has conjured up imagery on what was a blank white sheet before you, as if by witchcraft. We use this technology regularly, blissfully unaware of the process between the familiar noise of paper feeding through and the warm copies we hold to our face …don’t look at me like that.

The most common home and office printers are Inkjet and Toner based, so we’ll go into both.

The Printing File

Home printers interpret information such as text, raster or bitmap images and vector graphics (photographs and graphics to you and me) into a language it understands, basically a set of instructions for the printer.

These can be sent through a USB cable or more commonly now, wirelessly to the printer. These instructions will enable the file to be replicated using a grid of tiny dots. This is the principle of these printers the main difference in the process is how the drops transfer to the page.

The Inkjet Process

Inkjet printers produce the image by following the instructions of the file with ink droplets. These droplets are incredibly minute, usually around 100 microns wide, this is roughly the size of the average human hair. These droplets are dispensed through a series of nozzles that operate at an outstanding rate of around 6000 drops per second!

Inkjet printers are more commonly used in the home and high resolution versions can be used for printing your valuable photos.

The Dry Toner Based Process

Toner-based printing differs from inkjet as instead of wet ink dropped onto the substrate (fancy word for paper) they use an ultra-fine plastic powder. This powder is heated inside of the printer then fused to the paper as it passes through the nozzle, so that the end product is dry. The dots on toner based are actually usually around 7-10 microns wide, which is around 1/10th of a human hair!

Usually toner based printers are used in the workplace as they can print at a higher rate and the toners are relatively less expensive than inkjet printers to print.

We hope we have enlightened you somewhat to the wizardry of digital print. Over the next few months we’ll be offering up more interesting (we hope) nuggets of knowledge for you.

Thanks for reading!