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Archive for January, 2010

Unique Printing Styles and Techniques for the Future

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Even 20 years ago, the speed and complexity of today’s modern ink jet and laser jet printers would be unheard of. Printers from the ’90s and ’80s were slow, inaccurate and often carried only black and white printer ink. Since then, huge strides have been taken in making printers more accurate and more cost effective. Printers now come with the ability to print a broad range of colors, photo printing capabilities and can include features like photocopiers, faxing and scanners. And, even today, scientists and printer companies are working hard to keep developing astounding and technologically superior printers of a new generation.

For an example, at Dartmouth College a team of researchers and students have developed a futuristic printer that is capable not only of replicating the colors of an image, but also different shades of that image’s reflectivity. Reflectivity is very different from coloring and shape in pictures. Reflectivity shows a different level of depth and affects how light travels to the eye. Modern printers don’t really have any bearing on reflectivity, but by using silver printer ink combined with traditional colors, the researchers were able to replicate a reflectivity effect. It’s very possible that printers in the future will use this technique to make more accurate and more visually astounding versions of the images that they print.

Any discussion of next-generation printing techniques should also mention the futuristic three-dimensional printers that have recently entered the ranges of affordability. Once confined to cutting-edge universities and science labs, three-dimensional printers use special printer ink cartridges that use printing material that can be built, layer by layer, to represent a three-dimensional figure. Currently, the technology doesn’t allow colored figures. However, this printing capability is extremely useful for architectural sculptures, art design, toys and other applications. Three-dimensional printers have been introduced at a fairly low price point of about $3000, though their printer ink cartridges can be quite expensive. Nevertheless, we may see a day quite soon when three-dimensional printers are as common to have in a household or office as ink jet printers are today.

All changes in the technology industry tend to happen slowly, and this has historically been very true in the world of printers. We’re unlikely to see super affordable reflective or three-dimensional printers pop up tomorrow. However, it’s interesting to think what printers might look like in the future, and what they might be capable of. Whatever the case, printer manufacturers will likely continue to improve on printer abilities to replicate images more accurately, work faster and utilize less expensive printer ink cartridges. As the technology becomes less expensive, these amazing printing capabilities will soon become available for everyday printing jobs.

Tips to Conserving Printer Ink

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Saving money is on top of everyone’s list these days. If you’re an inkjet printer user, you know that purchasing ink cartridges can do some damage to your monthly budget. Here are a few tips to help you keep the costs of printer ink down for your household.

1. Use economy print settings. Most inkjet printers have more than one print quality setting. One of these settings should be an “econ” or “draft print” setting that uses far less ink than standard or high-quality settings. This is great for printing items like receipts, driving directions or other printouts that don’t have to look award winning.

2. Avoid printing photographs. Although printer manufacturers like to brag about how great printing photos at home is, photo printing is a massive drain on your printer ink reserves.

3. Use the copy machine. Ounce for ounce, most printer ink is more costly than gold. Using your inkjet like a photocopier can definitely put you on the road to the poorhouse. Why not cancel that journey and make your way to Kinkos or the Office Max instead? Make a nice copy on your inkjet printer and run off multiple copies on a photocopier instead.

4. Turn your printer off. Most people do not realize that many inkjet printers automatically clean themselves from time to time, even when not in use. When a printer cleans itself it consumes a small amount of ink. Turn your printer off to prevent it from doing so.

5. Buy separate color cartridges. Printers with separate printer ink cartridges for each color are best for saving money. That way, if one color runs out before the other, you only have to purchase that particular printer ink cartridge. Printer ink cartridges that combine colors are wasteful, as you must dispose of the entire cartridge even if only one color is exhausted.

6. Use print preview. Print preview is a function available in all modern operating systems to let you view your printout on-screen in the exact same format it will look like on paper. This allows you to see ahead of time if a print is not going to print properly, allowing you to make changes and avoid useless printouts.

7. Install virtual printer drivers. A virtual printer driver is like a printer that uses no ink and paper. It installs into your computer exactly like a normal printer driver but, instead of printing to physical paper, it saves your output to a file, such as a PDF file. PDF files can be saved, e-mailed and faxed just like any other document.

Making a bit of an effort to minimize your ink use will help save a lot of money for you in the long run.

Pigment versus Dye-Based Inks and Which is Best for You

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

The type of printer ink cartridges you use in your printer will determine the quality of your prints and what you will primarily use your printer for — whether for photographs, complex graphics or just plain text documents. Varying printing jobs will call for varying types of printer ink. Typically, a printer will use either dye-based or pigment-based printer ink cartridges.

As a basic differentiation, dye-based ink is water soluble, while pigment-based ink is a non-soluble type of ink. Both ink types, however, are manufactured to be eco-friendly, especially when compared to other ink products, such as alcohol-based ink. But, it then comes down to determining what type of printer ink will work best for you and the jobs you want to print.

Dye-based inks are generally much cheaper than pigment-based inks. They are also easier to produce and thus, they tend to be the common printer ink choice for most printer manufacturers. Dye-based inks are made with a brightener component. Brighteners are, obviously, responsible for making colors brighter and more vivid. They do this by using a dye dissolve-in solution. Prints are therefore more colorful and have an additional amount of stability. A downside, however, is that the color may fade quickly since dye-basked inks do not respond well to UV lights. These colors also tend to take a longer time to dry, making prints less clear on occasion. Therefore, since dye-based inks are best at projecting color brightness, this type of ink will be best utilized for photographs and graphic print production.

Pigment-based inks are manufactured with resins or chemical-based polymers. The resins are water-suspended to be used by inkjet printers. This unique production makes the ink less responsive to UV lighting and gives it a longer shelf-life than dye-based ink. The disadvantage associated with pigment ink is that colors will appear less vivid. Therefore, pigment-based inks are not usually utilized for color printers since their constant use will result in the clogging of color pigments. Color printers that utilize pigment-based ink are generally more expensive since they require a special type of software that will help prevent these blockages and dense printing. Pigment-based ink printer cartridges therefore work best for text-type documents. It is also the ink of choice for archiving and documenting files because its printouts can last for years and years, even under chemical or light exposure. In addition, pigment-based inks absorb water but do not dissolve with it and therefore are also more resistant to water

Both ink types do have their strengths and weakness. It comes down to you determining what sort of documents you are printing that the specific qualities you would like those documents to have.

Inkjet versus Laser Printers: Pros and Cons of Each Type

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Since their introduction in the 1980s, Inkjet printers have been the most purchased type of printer on the market. However, one technology that has begun to intrude on the traditionally inkjet-dominated market is laser printing. As the cost and size of laser printers have decreased over the years, they have come to rival inkjet printers in both popularity and value. While there are no hard rules about which technology is superior, a quick comparison will serve to highlight the pros and cons of each.

Each technology relies on completely different methods to achieve a printed page. Inkjet printers use printer ink. This ink is placed into printer ink cartridges, which are then placed into the printer itself. The printer is able to create images by spraying ink on to blank pages via the print head, which is a series of nozzles. When the cartridge is empty, it must be replaced or refilled. Laser printers, on the other hand, use a laser that is shone across a positively or negatively charged drum, causing an electrostatic imprint of the printed pattern to be drawn. Oppositely charged toner is then transferred to a blank page. Laser printers do not use printer ink or cartridges, but instead use toner, which is a fine, dry powder.

Inkjet printers are often sold at or below cost, whereas printer ink cartridges are sold far above. This is because a printer is bought only rarely, but ink cartridges will have to be replaced often. Laser printers, meanwhile, use solid toner, which will never dry up and will not have to be replaced as often. However, the initial cost of a laser printer is still far higher than that of an inkjet, and they are much heavier than their ink-using counterparts.

Other important differences to consider are quality and speed. Inkjets have a reputation for being able to print crisper photographs, but this is partly owing to the use of photo-quality paper. Laser printers have made a number of strides in this area and can now match inkjets for photo quality, at least on plain paper.

As for speed, the general conception is that laser printers are faster than inkjet because of the lack of any need to spray ink. While this is true with complex documents, for a simple, black and white image, an inkjet will be faster. The laser works at a constant rate and, regardless of the complexity of the image, will take the same amount of time to produce a printout. An inkjet can outperform a laser in terms of speed with simple images.

Both technologies present strengths and weaknesses, and the best fit will be dependent on the needs of the user.

Increasing Productivity in the Workplace with the Right Printer

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

It may not seem obvious, but choosing the right type of office printer can be one of the most important decisions that an office manager can make. Although more and more communication is going the digital route, printers are the mainstay of the modern office. Therefore, a dependable, quick, low-hassle printer can be an invaluable tool for improving office efficiency — and even employee morale. However, many offices tend to buy the cheapest printer available. It seems managers are either unaware of the value of a good printer or they don’t know how to find a “good” office printer that’s fast, trustworthy and simple to maintain. However, this problem can be resolved if they just do a little research before purchasing a printer.

It’s important when purchasing an office printer to keep in mind the type of maintenance they may require on a regular basis. Office printer maintenance can be a major efficiency roadblock — when a printer’s not working, it’s not helping an office function in any way. For this reason, it is imperative that managers invest in a printer whose maintenance procedures are easy for anyone to perform. For example, if a printer ink cartridge runs out and an employee doesn’t feel like he or she knows how to replace it, that ink cartridge won’t get replaced. This causes office efficiency to take a hit. The best printers for offices avoid this problem by providing easy-to-switch out printer ink cartridges and by displaying warning and error messages when they begin to run out of printer ink. Employees are far more likely to take the maintenance steps to keep the printer, and office, running if the procedures to do so are easy.

An office printer also needs to be able to handle large capacity prints in order to be useful in an office. Home printers don’t really work well in offices, because their print heads aren’t built to withstand hundreds of prints throughout the course of a day. Office printers are built to different standards in order to handle heavy workloads. When an office printer is fast and able to withstand the heat and pressure of thousands of prints a day, it allows workers to get their jobs done without worrying about a broken or stalled printer. And, your IT department won’t have to be constantly called to fix your problems. This also provides less frustration for workers who need a working printer in order to get their jobs done.

Ultimately, a reliable printer is an essential office tool. Offices that invest in well-crafted printers that require simple maintenance are able to see huge efficiency jumps that make the investment well worth the money.

How to Get the Best Print Quality Out of Your Printer

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

The fact that we almost all use printers in our every day life makes it like that most of us forget how complex printers actually are. As a result, we may become frustrated when our printers do not give us the quality results we expect from it. However, there are a couple major factors you can control in order to ensure your printer continues to produce high quality prints.

First, the printer ink that you choose will have a major effect on the print quality you will get. For ink jet printers, there are two types of printer ink cartridges that you can purchase — pigment and dye based printer ink. Both of these have their ups and downs. In general, pigment ink is fast drying and can produce non-fading colors. However, dye-based ink is able to produce a much wider range of colors and produces high contrast images. Unfortunately with dye-based ink, wetness can result in the ink beginning to run when you are not printing on coated type of paper.

This brings up another important printing factor — choosing the proper paper type. Even if you select printer ink that is right for the specific job you have in mind, you may still not receive the quality you want if you choose the wrong paper. There are many different types of paper available, each designed for a certain job. Researching these before purchasing can help ensure a higher print quality. After printing, you also want to control the environment they are kept in. Exposure to the elements can result in your printouts fading or altering significantly. Keeping your print outs in dark, dry place can help to eliminate much of the damage that your printouts will suffer over time.

Another important thing to do when trying to achieve high quality printouts is to be sure to perform standard printer maintenance regularly. As previously stated, many of us forget the number of complex processes that a printer must perform. Keeping the machine in prime condition will ensure these processes go smoothly. One of the most important checks to perform is to look at the print head nozzle. This is where the ink is released onto the paper. Ink may dry here, blocking the nozzle, much like the ink of a pen drying in the pen tip. Checking to ensure that this is clean on a regular basis will help to ensure your printer functions normally.

Printers have come to play an integral role in the lives of many people — something that won’t likely change any time soon. Knowing what you should do to ensure quality prints will help make your life much easier in today’s high tech world.

How and Why Ink Cartridges are Tested

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

If you’ve ever bought printer ink for different types of printers, you have probably noticed that some printers tend to run out of ink faster than others. This being the case, you might have wondered how to tell which printers and printer ink cartridges provide the most prints for your money. Unfortunately, printer manufacturers have guarded this information in recent years, making it tough to find out. However, for consumers who regularly buy printer ink, a new ISO standard for printers may soon provide a better way to compare different types of printer ink cartridges. The standard has been approved by several major printer companies, and will probably become the accepted way of testing ink cartridges within the next few years.

Testing on printer ink cartridges is carried out in order to provide a means of comparison between several similar products. One of the common numbers figured out during testing, for instance, is the number of pages that a printer can print using a certain cartridge before that cartridge runs out of ink. However, up to this point, that number has been fairly subjective — different printer manufacturers use different metrics for measurement. For example, one manufacturer may measure the number of pages printed with 16 percent of the page covered in text, while another may include photographs and only 12 percent text coverage. This leads to discrepancies that aren’t always easy for consumers to figure out. Without a standard, a consumer is forced to take a guess at which printer will provide more prints — unless he or she is choosing between two printers from the same manufacturer.

The new standards will require all printer ink companies to use the same testing methods to determine the number of printable pages per printer ink cartridge. Manufacturers will need to use the same types of computers, same settings for “test” pages and the same density and ink types per page in order to post an ISO certified number of print pages on their cartridge boxes. This should provide a much easier means of comparison for printer customers, although consumers will of course need to actually look for the standard number in order to benefit from the ink cartridge testing.

Printer ink can be very expensive, and the new ISO standards should be very helpful for consumers looking to choose the least expensive long-term printers. While it remains to be seen whether widespread ink cartridge testing will lead to lower prices or better deals, it’s certainly helpful to have a dependable standard. Savvy consumers will soon be able to look at ink cartridge testing numbers to instantly find out how liberal a printer is with its ink, and how long it will last.

Guide to Buying a New Printer

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Are you looking to buy a new printer but don’t know where to start? There are many things to consider before you decide which printer will be the right one for you. Considering a few key things before you look for a printer will help you immensely, especially if you are looking to buy your printer in a store, rather than online.

The first thing you need to decide is what sort of features you need to have on your printer. Do you want to purchase just a printer, or do you want a dual printer/copier? Multifunction printers can help to save you a lot of money if you need the features they provide. However, if you do not need these extra services on a regular basis, it will save you money not to buy a printer that can perform them.

Wireless printers are also an option. This is the perfect solution for any home office setting if you are attempting to minimize the amount of cords you have to deal with. Cords can become a major hassle, so if you can afford this feature, it can help simplify the environment just a little.

If you are only planning on printing monochrome documents, then you can save yourself quite a bit of money by purchasing a monochrome printer. Purchasing ink for this sort of printer tends to be less expensive than purchasing color ink cartridges.

Once you have decided on the features that you are going to need your printer to have, you can now start narrowing it down based on other things. One of the major limitations, especially in today’s economy, is the price of the printer. If a printer has the features you want, but is too expensive, you will likely need to decide which features you can live without.

When considering the price of a printer, it is essential that you remember it consists of two separate things. First off, the most prominent and obvious is the price of the printer itself. This initial cost is sure to be the price that first catches your eye. But the recurring cost of replacing printer ink cartridges is one that you also need to consider before buying. If your printer ink costs $40 per printer ink cartridge and you have to replace them monthly, this adds up to $480 per year. Search online to determine the average cost of the printer ink to help you decide what printer might be most cost effective for you.

With so many options available and so many factors to consider, buying a printer can be a complicated process. As long as you do your research, you should come out on top in your search.

Factors in Buying the Right Printer for Your Needs

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Have you been considering purchasing a new printer? Nowadays, there are so many gadgets and gizmos that are associated with buying a printer that it can be hard to decide what printer will work best for you. From printer ink cartridges to built-in photocopiers, the choices are endless. This being the case, it’s best that before you begin shopping, that you have a firm grasp on what features are most important to have in your new printer.

First off, ask yourself what your printer will be most used for. Are you going to be using your printer to print documents? Pictures? Both? If you are primarily going to be printing monochrome documents, a monochrome printer can save you a lot of money. However, if you are going to be printing photos, you will definitely need a dedicated photo printer that prints multiple colors.

Once you have decided what your printer’s primary use will be, you need to decide what types of “extras” you will want or need. Do you want your printer to be able to make photocopies? Do you want your printer to be capable of sending faxes? Multifunction printers can be quite useful, but they will always cost more than a standard printer.

You also may wish to consider how energy efficient your printer is. Certain environmental programs, such as Energy Star, give specifications for devices to be energy conservative and to protect the environment. This can help you save money on your electric bill if you use your printer frequently.

Another big factor that may play a role in your decisions is whether you want to get a wireless printer. There are several reasons why you might want to get a wireless printer. The first reason is fairly obvious —you won’t have to deal with wires. With all the wires in a modern household, the last thing you need is more. Another reason you may want to consider a wireless printer is if you will be printing from multiple computers. Having a wireless printer can make printing from multiple computers much easier and hassle-free.

Printer ink is another big factor. Finding the “perfect” printer can fall all to pieces if the printer ink cartridges for it cost a small fortune to replace. This is one of the prime factors to consider when you are trying to find a printer. Even if the initial cost of the printer is relatively cheap, you may find that you will be paying for those savings in printer ink.

These are just some of the many factors to consider when you are buying a printer. When it comes down to it, researching your options and weighing your printing priorities will help you make this decision.

Easy, DIY Guide to Solving Printer Problems

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Taking your printer to be repaired can be expensive. Sometimes the problem is as simple as being out of printer ink, and other times it may be a complex technical problem. However, there are a few steps you can take to assess what the issue might be. By eliminating the following issues as the root of your printer problem, you may be able to determine whether it’s necessary to take your printer to a professional.

• Some of the most common printer problems occur when you unexpectedly change the printer’s settings or installing new drivers. If you have recently done either of these things, undo the changes in order to see if the printer begins working again. This may solve the problem for you.

• Another thing to check when your printer is not printing is whether you are printing your jobs to the proper printer. When it comes down to it, we have all accidentally done this. Nowadays, with things like virtual printers that create PDF files of your printed documents, we are even more likely to make this mistake. Check to ensure that you are printing to the correct device. Don’t worry — we have all done it before.

• An additional seemingly obvious problem to look for is whether there is paper in the tray.

• If the printer seems to be trying to print, open the printer up and ensure that the print head is able to move freely. Sometimes, paper can get stuck and prevent the print head from moving. Also, if you have recently purchased your printer, there may still be tape in this area that is holding the print head in place.

• The problem might be as simple as an empty printer ink cartridges. To avoid this, be sure to check your printer ink on a regular basis to ensure that your printer ink cartridges are not empty.

• Sometimes the problem can be that your printer queue is stuck. When the printer receives too many documents to print all at once, it may freeze. Turning the printer off and removing the print jobs from the queue can help fix this problem.

• You might try checking the printer’s power cord. We have all been in that situation where we have tried to print something and become frustrated with the printer, only to find out that it was unplugged to begin with. Checking the power cord can help to alleviate this problem.

Printers are complex devices, but many of the problems that come up can be solved without “calling in the troops”. With just a little ingenuity, you can fix most of the problems that might arise with your printer.

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