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Bidirectional Printing And How It Affects Printer Ink Usage

2010-06-21

Throughout the printing process, print signals and instructions are generally sent in one direction: from the computer to the printer. Conversely, bidirectional printing can complete this procedure, but also communicate back to the computer. The printer sends updates regarding the status of the print job, the status of the paper, as well as any issues such as paper jams or low printer ink.

Since this is such a crucial technology to modern printing, most current laser and inkjet printers utilize this procedure of communication. Color printers especially need this type of printing to signal the computer of constant availability, which allows the ink cartridge to mix color inks properly to ensure optimal output. Unfortunately, shared printing devices only support one-way communication from the computer to the printer.

One of the biggest advantages to utilizing a bidirectional printer is the speed. Since every other line is being printed backwards, there's no time lost for moving the printer head to the beginning of the next line. This greatly increases the number of pages printed per minute.

Regrettably, there are a few shortcomings to this technology. First, the overall quality of the printing output can be poor. One common problem is banding which occurs when the printer head is moving backwards. Color variance is another result of bidirectional printing methods. Also, the trade-off of the print speed is the overall quality. Another issue is that certain papers are not compatible with bidirectional printing. Furthermore, without any type of ink management system, more printer ink will be consumed with bidirectional printing. Ink management systems help to conserve ink by regulating the amount added to a page. Additionally, shared printers, such as those found on a network or wireless connection, cannot easily utilize the bidirectional communication between the printer and the computer; though there are adapters that can assist with this issue.

In order to achieve a bidirectional communication, there are two primary conditions that must be met. First, the printing device must be able to send out a signal to the printing server. Second, a network protocol must be used in conjunction with the signal. Luckily, most network protocols support bidirectional printing.

Bidirectional printing certainly achieves its main use by being the fastest output method. If quality is not important, such as when printing a large number of documents, then bidirectional printing is the most effective and efficient technique. On the other hand, if quality cannot be overlooked, such as photo printing, or a shared printer is setup, then unidirectional printing will produce the best output. As printing technology improves, the common issues found with bidirectional printing will be solved. First by using adapters, then it will be implemented into the device.

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