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How does an Inkjet printer work

Updated on September 14, 2011

Inkjet printers create text and images on the surface of the paper by spraying small droplets of ink on them. All the droplets are very small in size and are also positioned very precisely. Inkjet printers are also very popular since have now become inexpensive, and also easy to use, plus they can produce high quality text and graphics. The speed of these printers are expressed as pages per minute (ppm) and also the resolution is expressed as dots per inch (dpi).

Thermal Inkjet

These printers use the water pigment and also dye-based inks. The print cartridge contains very small, electrically heated chambers. The printer runs a current through these chambers to produce steam that forms the actual ink bubble, that is then printed on to the paper.

Piezoelectric Inkjet

Piezoelectric Inkjet printers use a piezoelectric crystal in each of the nozzles instead of heating the elements. The piezoelectric process uses crystals that then react to electric charge. When its charged the crystal draws or pulls the ink from an ink storage unit stored above the crystal. The piezoelectric process can also cut or refine the exact amount of ink that is needed to refine the dot printed on the paper. This then reduces the smudging effect of the more traditional inkjet printer technologies and also provides a better printer resolution. This is why we can now see photo realistic prints from an inkjet printer at the quality of 1440 dpi.

Continuous Inkjet

Continuous Inkjet is when a high pressure pump directs liquid ink from the ink reservoir into a small nozzle which then creates a continuous stream of tiny ink drops. A piezoelectric crystal creates ink droplets from the stream of ink inside the printer. These tiny ink drops are then electrically charged which are then printed on the paper.

Printhead assembly

The print head assembly is made up of a printhead, inkcartridge, print head stepper motor, and a belt. The print head consists of a series of nozzles that spray the ink on to the paper. The ink cartridge contains the ink which can be just black ink or a combination of different colors. The stepper motor is then used to move the print head assembly back and forth across the surface of the paper. The belt is used to attach the print head assembly to the stepper motor.

Paper movement assembly

The paper movement assembly is made up of a paper feed tray or feeder, a paper feed motor, paper sensors, and also rollers. The paper feed tray or feeder is where the paper is loaded. The paper feed motor moves the paper through the printer with the help of rubber rollers. The stepper motor precisely moves the paper from the paper feed tray through the printer and drops it in the output tray after printing. Input paper sensors check the availability of paper in the paper feed tray.

Power supply

The power supply unit of the inkjet printer is what converts the mains AC voltage into the DC voltages used by all the various motors and circuit boards inside the printer.

Controller assembly

The controller assembly is made up of electronic circuitry that converts the incoming signals and controls the movement of different mechanical parts.

Connection interface

The connection interface connects the printer to your pc to the network. Depending on the type of printer, the interface can be a parallel port, a serial port, a USB, or an IEEE 1394 port.


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