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A Basic Overview Of How Inkjet Printers Work

2012-05-23

Although most consumers understand that inkjet printers stain paper with small dots of ink from independent inkjet cartridges, many do not understand the basic technology that allows inkjet printers to recreate high quality images and documents. Inkjet printers use exceptionally precise mechanisms to print each page, and by understanding these mechanisms, printer owners can also understand why remanufactured printer ink and generic ink cartridges offer as high an average image quality as name brand cartridges.

Inkjet cartridges progress across a piece of paper one line at a time, shooting ink from print heads as the printer moves the heads across the page horizontally. Most inkjet printers have separate printer heads for each primary color, but inks can blend together to make more complex colors by printing on the same area. Black-and-white inkjet printers only have a single ink cartridge and often have only one or two sets of heads. The printer progresses down a piece of paper one horizontal line at a time, using digital information relayed from a computer to decide which dots to fill in with ink. The resolution of a printer indicates the number of dots it "sees" per inch of paper. The higher the dpi, the higher the quality of a printer. Most modern printers have a dpi of at least 300, and some photo-quality printers have ratings of 1500 dpi and upwards.

As the ink cartridge moves across a page, the ink is squeezed out, hence the "jet" part of the "inkjet printer" name. Some inkjet printers jet ink through their print heads at an incredibly fast rate. On some modern printers, a flow of ink can turn off and on 5,000 times per second. Printers have incredibly advanced hardware to handle this type of high-demand function. However, there is a downside; inkjet printers are mechanical devices, and like all mechanical devices, they need regular lubrication. Modern printer ink contains special lubricants that ease the mechanical processes and keep the print heads clear of contaminants, allowing the printer to function properly as long as the printer owner uses the device on a regular basis.

Because remanufactured printer ink uses the same ink ingredients and print heads as name brand printer ink cartridges, they print in equivalent quality. However, printer manufacturers drive up the cost of their cartridges in retail stores by patenting their cartridge designs, so remanufactured and generic ink cartridges are hard to find in stores. Fortunately, printer owners can shop online to find these alternatives to name brand printer ink cartridges and save money. While inkjet printer technology is fairly advanced, cartridge design is necessarily simple, and savvy buyers can often save hundreds of dollars per year by using generic inks.

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