In computer technology, a printer is often a peripheral device that creates a physical representation of text or images, usually on paper. A scanner is another type of printer that is used in printing documents. While most printed output is plain human-readable, barcode scanners are an extreme example of the expanding usage of printers in industries. Barcode scanners can identify all kinds of items from credit cards to medical records and they can print these items out on a special type of paper that has been specially created for bar coding. Depending on the particular kind of scanner, it can either require line editing or automatically print out the data on its own. The great thing about this technology is that many types of printers, including inkjet printers and laser printers, can read bar codes.
Some printers allow for the use of third-party software that translates the languages of the documents into the printer’s language. The advantage to this is that a document created in a non-English language will be correctly translated into the right language, allowing the document to be properly printed by the printer. However, many printers still only support the English language. Some examples of languages that are supported include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Some printers work with ribbon cartridges. Ribbon cartridges, made of black cartridge paper that have been preloaded into the printer with fragrance, are generally only compatible with some printers. This is because the ribbon is what carries the ink from the printer to the paper after it has been printed. The cartridge itself, also known as a toner cartridge, is coated with toner. A printer may use one type of toner or many, depending on the printing project and the quality desired. The use of a special kind of ink allows the toner to dry much more quickly than standard ink cartridges, so there is no waiting time before printing.
Some of the least expensive printers accept text formats, either in color printing or monochrome. These are the most common for printers that are intended for desktop use, as the size and ease of use is comparable to many other types of printers available for home, office, or vehicle use. Laser printers that accept text are often found in kiosks and in printing machines at businesses. They are expensive but provide a higher quality than their monochrome counterparts.
Impact printers, also called dot matrix, use contacts to transfer the image from the computer screen to the paper with the ribbon technique. Pinion and ball-bearing impact printers work with either ribbon or pinion drives. In pinion drives, the pins push the ribbon through the print head, while in ball bearings, the pins are fixed in position and the ribbon is passed through the drive. Pins are the most expensive part of an impact printer, and they must be replaced periodically.
While all three methods of document reproduction may be used for printing a document, it is possible to produce good results with only one printer type. If a business has a need for more than one printer to meet different printing needs, then a multifunction printer may be the best option. These are called “all in one” printers, because all three printer functions are combined into one, usually small-sized output device. They generally have a small sized monitor, keyboard, and basic scanner/copier function.