Since the 1970s, the printer has been a commonly used device that cannot be missing in offices, schools, universities or private homes, precisely because of the need to transpose thousands of information of all kinds on paper. Technological progress and the development of new printing mechanisms has expanded the printer market with hundreds of models of various sizes and qualities, capable of responding to the most varied customer needs.

In such a vast way, it is therefore easy to get lost and make a wrong purchase or one that does not respond satisfactorily to your needs for use, and it is good to follow a guide that directs you to the choice of the best printers on sale that could best fit your needs. needs.

But how many and what are the types of printer currently on the market?

The first point to evaluate is how many types of printers exist on the market. We could divide the various devices into three main classes: InkJet , Laser and Multifunction Laser .

Let's see now what are the characteristics that distinguish them.

Ink Jet or inkjet printers

This printing technology consists in the emission (from English to jet, splash or spray) of ink on a paper support. The mechanism provides an internal carriage which, moving bidirectionally on the sheet, imprints the ink through the print heads attached to it. The heads emit the jet in the form of drops of 4 or 5 picoliters of ink by means of the nozzles, which in the most recent printers reach up to 400 elements.

The ink ejection mechanism is of two types:

Thermal : this type of ejection provides resistors capable of heating up to 200 or 300 degrees in a few fractions of a second, generating the boiling of the ink, which expands and is expelled through the nozzle. This technology is particularly popular for office printers, and thermal printing is adopted by several models of brands such as HP , Brother and Canon .

Piezoelectric : this technology is less recent, and provides a channel covered by a piezoelectric crystal positioned under each nozzle. An electric impulse causes the crystal to deform and, consequently, to choke the channel that emits the ink. This technology particularly affects the functionality of the head, as the continuous expansion of the piezoelectric element and the thermal change consume the head with frequent use of the printing device, and sometimes cause the dehydration of the ink which, therefore, dries up and is unusable . The company that adopts this technology is Epson .

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The ink is taken from the cartridges , which act as a tank, and contain the free liquid, or impregnated in a sponge. Cartridges are often positioned above the carriage and heads, following their movement. The heads are particularly delicate elements and subject to premature deterioration, for this reason many cartridge manufacturers integrate the print heads and cartridges in a single element, clearly affecting the cost of the cartridge, but always guaranteeing the maximum print yield.

Typically, the printer software also integrates the head cleaning option , always allowing for good head maintenance. In this case, the software will cause the printer to eject a certain amount of ink through the head, in order to decongest the cartridge from any lumps of dry ink.

In some cases, however, it may be necessary to manually soften the ink by applying a few drops of isopropyl alcohol to the ink tank.

To clean the cartridge, however, it is possible to immerse the latter in boiling water with half a tablespoon of dissolved ammonia. This process will allow you to completely empty the cartridge.

For the maintenance of the nozzles, a brass brush can be used to eliminate the residues of dried ink that could compromise the functionality of the element, obstructing the outlet channels.

In addition to the simple Jet Ink technology, we find the continuous jet one: it is the so-called Drop On Demand Ink Jet , particularly used in industrial and commercial printing processes. This technology allows a very high printing speed.

Although the mechanics behind the Ink Jet technology remain the same, there are numerous variations that can be found on the market, which differ in both speed of printing and quality. Specifically, the print quality in hexachrome (which combines the four main colors of the historic four-color printing cyan, magenta, yellow and black, with orange and green, or light magenta and cyan) is increasingly widespread and allows optimal color rendering.

Laser printing

This technology allows printing on a paper support by means of a laser positioned on a photosensitive selenium cylinder , called in technical jargon drum or magnetic roller, which is recharged by exposure to light, and captures the negative image, then reporting it on paper by means of toner: a fine powder consisting of carbon particles, resin and iron oxides. It is deposited by the drum on the sheet, and passing through a heater, is melted and imprinted on the paper.

A negative note on laser printers regards an improper use of the device, or a particularly intensive use: the drum tends to overheat after use for several hours, gradually compromising the quality of the print.

Multifunction printer

Commonly also called all-in-one printer , it is a type of printer that integrates printer and scanner in a single device.

This type of printer can work in stand-alone mode, in which it is always able to operate as a copier.

A multifunction, depending on the software that manages it, can perform various operations:

  • Press 
  • Scan 
  • Photocopying Sending faxes (only if the multifunction printer is equipped with a modem);

Sending images by e-mail (only if it is equipped with a network card). 

Multifunction printers can be inkjet or laser, color or black and white. The latter type of printer is particularly suitable for intensive use, always maintaining maximum printer efficiency.

How to understand which is the right choice

Having analyzed all the types of printers that can be found on the market, the second step to take to find your way and make the best choice is to identify your needs and possible uses of the device, combining the right price and quality.

The inkjet printing technology has enjoyed considerable commercial success thanks to its quality characteristics and reduced prices , for this reason it has conquered the category of private consumers and that of small offices.

In fact, this type of printer is suitable for private use, if a good number of prints are made daily, but it is even more suitable for small-format office prints, technical and advertising studies that need to produce posters, posters of small format, menus of restaurants or clubs of all kinds, which need a color print with good resolution.

Several models of Jet Ink printers, in more recent times, have also entered the market of large format prints (called plotters ) and industrial prints, since new technologies seek to improve the printing speed of these devices more and more in order to expand the range of consumer types.

This type of printer requires occasional but necessary maintenance, in order not to compromise its functionality.

Laser printers are the most suitable for black and white printing , and at the expense of the use of colors, they allow a great print yield in terms of quantity, quality and speed, with decidedly affordable prices. It is the most appropriate type of device for private use that does not include photographic prints (for which an Ink Jet printer is definitely more suitable), but that includes the printing of documents of various kinds. For higher prices it is also possible to buy a laser printer that includes colored inks, however a purchase of this kind is not recommended, while an Ink Jet is preferable for this option.

In addition to private use, the Laser printer can also be used by small companies that require significant quantities of prints: business documents, invoices, bank statements, reports, batches of products, and adhesive labels.

This printing technology is suitable for intensive use, as the mechanics of the device itself prevents frequent jams or blockages.

Multifunctional printers, both laser and inkjet, are rather bulky devices, not suitable for private users , but for industrial use, or for publishing and copying agencies, schools and universities. These devices have higher prices, as they include numerous operations, such as scans or faxing: for this reason they can also be useful in offices that need to perform all these operations. In fact, multifunction printers are suitable for the Small Office and Home Office areas , thanks to lower costs and a smaller footprint compared to the purchase of multiple devices.

The price ranges by type

For a conscious purchase, which really meets your needs, you must first identify the use you will make of the device, which corresponds to a perfect printer. In this regard, the quality / price ratio is fundamental as a third point.

The ink jet printers have a market price ranging from € 40 to € 200, but you can purchase a high quality printer even at a lower price to € 100. The parts that will need to be replaced based on the use of the device are the cartridges, which have an average price of € 7

The laser printers stand out for printers in black and white and color printers, and the choice depends on your needs. For color printers, prices start at € 140 for the cheapest devices, up to € 370 for the most innovative models. Black and white laser printers have lower prices: from € 80 to € 600.

Even for multifunction printers , a clear distinction is made between black and white and colors: the former have reduced prices and are excellent for printing exclusively written documents, without graphic elements, and prices vary from € 100 to € 400; the price of color multifunction devices, on the other hand, varies from € 200 to around € 400.

The world of printers is so vast that often you don't know where to start. With this small guide you can acquire more familiarity and awareness of all the characteristics of the main types of printers, so as to make the best and most suitable purchase for your needs, without wasting time or money.



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