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How Does an Inkjet Printer Work?

Last Updated on March 2, 2023 by Christian Ralph

If you’ve ever wondered how an inkjet printer works, our in-depth guide will break down the inkjet printing process step-by-step to ensure users are fully informed when it comes to their next printer purchase.

What is an Inkjet Printer?

Put simply, an inkjet printer is a device that uses ink to create hard copies of text and/or photos.

Ink is forced through nozzles to create minuscule droplets which are precisely arranged to create the text or image on the page.

Inkjet printers are produced by several top printer brands including Epson, Brother and HP. Inkjet models are available in both single-function and multifunction variations featuring Print/Scan/Copy/Fax capabilities.

Inkjet printers predominantly use a 4-ink cartridge set-up consisting of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).

These pigments are used in unison to recreate a complete colour palette making them perfect for vivid colour photo printing.

How Does an Inkjet Printer Work?

The driving principle of an inkjet printer is to convert digital files into physical copies. This conversion is possible thanks to specialised software called a driver.

The driver converts the digital text or photo file into a language which is understandable by the printer.

This information is then transferred to the print head which is a component which houses the ink cartridges.

The print head features thousands of tiny holes. The ink from the cartridge reservoirs is then forced under pressure through the holes to create high volumes of individual ink droplets.

The printhead moves rapidly across the page distributing the minuscule ink droplets onto the page to create the image.

With inkjet printers featuring automatic double-sided printing capabilities, the page is then inverted to allow for printing on the opposite side.

This reversal of the page is achieved using a duplex unit. The duplexer unit employs stepper motors and rollers to draw the page through a pathway which flips the paper to the opposite side to allow the print head access to the reverse side.

Once the page is completed, the paper needs to be ejected. Usually, the pages are collected into an expandable paper output tray.

This process is repeated until the document has finished printing, with the most advanced inkjet models printing more than 40 pages a minute.

What are the Advantages of Inkjet Printers?

Inkjet technology includes several advantages when compared to other printer types.

Due to highly pigmented inks, inkjet printers excel at producing vivid, highly detailed photo printing. With finer detailing and high resolutions, inkjet printers are perfectly suited to image-heavy printing.

Initial hardware costs are also significantly lower when comparing inkjet printers to laser counterparts. Although laser printers offer a lower cost per page at higher print volumes , an inkjet printer presents a low-cost option for users who are on a budget.

Generally, inkjet printers are much smaller compared to laser equivalents. With even multifunction inkjet printers featuring compact footprints, decreased model size can be a huge advantage for workplaces where space is at a premium.

A notable advantage of inkjet printing in comparison to other print technologies is the lack of start-up time. As inkjet printers use free-flowing ink instead of toner particles, no time is needed to warm up the machine, significantly reducing first print times.

Inkjet printing is also significantly quieter than other print technologies. Due to low operational noise, inkjet printers for business can be situated in even the quietest of workplaces without causing disruption.

What is the Difference Between Inkjet vs. Laser Printers?

Inkjet and laser printers both produce high-quality prints. However, the differences between these two print technologies are considerable.

Laser printers use microscopic toner particles which are attracted to a component called a ‘drum’ using an electrostatic charge. Once the toner particles are deposited onto the surface of the drum, the toner particles are melted onto the page via high temperatures using a component called a ‘fuser unit’.

Laser printer technology is highly precise meaning laser printers are well-suited to text-based printing. In addition, the faster laser printing components mean laser printers are capable of much higher print speeds compared to inkjet equivalents.

Despite laser models having higher initial hardware costs, toners are much cheaper than inks meaning laser printers can significantly reduce long-term overall running costs.

High print speeds combined with the ability to tackle heavy print volumes make laser printers a clear choice for busy work environments.

In contrast to laser printing technology, inkjet printers use pigmented liquid ink which is directed into the print head, this then sprays droplets of ink through tiny nozzles onto the page.

These microscopic droplets are precisely arranged to recreate images or text.

The properties of inkjet-specific papers include higher weights, and increased brilliance or whiteness.

What Type of Paper Should you use with Inkjet Printers?

Although inkjet printers do not technically require a different type of paper to print on, choosing an inkjet-specific paper can have a huge impact on print quality.

For the best results, inkjet printers require paper that allows the ink droplets to soak into the surface of the paper.

Inkjet-specific paper is available in a range of different forms including photo, business cards, glossy and greeting card variants.

For text-based printing, matte paper for inkjet printers is the best option. Matte paper is suitable for most everyday print tasks and is designed with a specialised coating to promote fast ink drying for document printing.

Glossy paper is specifically tailored for high-quality image printing. Images printed on a glossy substrate benefit from the increased colour vibrancy and contrast meaning the glossy paper is perfect for printing photos and images.

Printerland’s Range of Inkjet Printers

For users looking for an inkjet printing solution that suits their specific needs, Printerland stocks a broad range of models and brands including Epson, Brother, HP and more. All our inkjet printers are available for purchase directly from our website.

Printerland also provides a wide variety of inkjet print solutions including A4, A3 and multifunction printers. To help choose your next inkjet printer, browse our vast selection online or talk to one of our expert advisors today.