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What is Printer? – Types and Applications

July 31, 2022

A printer is an output device of the computer that is used to print characters, symbols, and graphics on paper.

The physical existence of output is called a hard copy. Print resolution is commonly measured in dots per Inch (dpi). The printers with higher dpi generate higher quality output.

Image showing the printer
Key Points
1. A printer is an output device that produces hard copies of characters, symbols, and graphics.
2. Print resolution is measured in dpi, with higher dpi producing better quality output.
3. Impact printers work like typewriters and strike inked ribbons to create images.
4. Dot matrix and daisy wheel printers are impact printers, with dot matrix being cheaper and lower quality, and daisy wheel being slower but higher quality.
5. Line printers can print entire lines at once and are used by mainframes and microcomputers.
6. Non-impact printers use spray ink or heat and pressure to create images and produce less noise with better quality output.
7. Laser printers use lasers to burn powder on paper, commonly used in businesses.
8. Inkjet printers spray liquid ink and are cheaper but lower quality than laser printers.
9. Thermal printers use heat and wax to produce high-quality color prints but are expensive.

Types of Printers

Different types of printers are as follows:

Impact Printers

An impact printer is a type of printer that works like a typewriter. The characters or images are printed by striking a print hammer or set of pins against an inked ribbon. Impact printers are one of the oldest technologies which are still in use.

The printing quality of this printer is low than others. The three most common forms of impact printers are as follows:

Types of Impact Printers

Different types of impact printers are given below

Dot Matrix Printer

A dot matrix printer is the most common type of impact printer. It generates printed images when tiny pins on a print head strike an inked ribbon. When the ribbon presses against the paper, it makes dots that form characters and graphics.

The print head on a dot matrix printer can contain 9 or 24 pins. This number of pins depends on the manufacturer and the printer model. A higher number of pins print more dots producing high-quality images.

The speed of a dot matrix printer is measured by the number of characters printed in one second. The speed of most dot matrix printers ranges from 350 to 1100 characters per second (cps). The output quality of the dot matrix printer is lower. They create too much noise while printing. They have cheaper printing costs.

Daisy Wheel Printer

Daisy wheel printer is like a typewriter. It uses a print wheel for printing. The print wheel is known as the daisy wheel. Each petal of the daisy wheel contains a character. A motor rotates the wheel.

A hammer strikes a petal against the ribbon when the desired Character reaches the position on the paper by which the characters are printed on the paper. The dot matrix printer is faster than the daisy wheel printer but the daisy wheel printer is better in quality.

image showing the Daisy wheel printer printer
Line Printer

One of the fast-impact printers is a line printer which can print an entire line at a time. Its speed is measured in lines per minute (ipm). Most of the line printers can print 3000 lines per minute. There are two types of line printers which are band printers and chain printers. These printers are normally used by mainframes and microcomputers.

Non-Impact Printers

In terms of functionality, impact printers, and non-impact printers are distinct. there are many differences between impact printers and non-impact printers.

The feature of the non-impact printer is it prints characters and graphics on paper without striking paper. Some printers use spray ink and some use heat and pressure to create images.

The printing speed of the non-impact printer is faster than the impact printer. That’s why they are more expensive than impact printers. They produce less noise during printing. The printing quality of these printers is better than impact printers.

Types of non-impact printers

Different types of non-impact printers are given below:

 Laser Print

LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is a non-impact Printer. It works like a photocopying machine. It uses Laser beams to burn special powder on the page to create a Permanent image. The power is contained in toner.

A complete page is printed by laser printer at a time. That’s why it is also known as a page printer. The laser printer prints 5 to 300 pages per minute (ppm). The contents being printed are also responsible for speed. The speed of plain text printing is faster than graphics.

Laser printers have a high-quality resolution for text and graphics printing.  The resolution provided by a typical laser printer is 1200 dpi or more.

The speed of laser printers print is higher than inkjet and dot matrix printers. It does not make much noise. in the business field, laser printers are used.

Inkjet Printer

An ink-jet printer is a type of non-impact printer. The characters and graphics are printed by spraying tiny drops of liquid ink on paper. Quality text and graphics in both black-and-white and color including photos are produced by ink-jet printers. The resolution of typical inkjet printers is 300 dots per inch. The latest version of inkjet printers provides higher resolution.

They cost lesser than laser printers. That’s why they are slower than laser printers. Inkjet printers mostly print from 10 to 35 pages per minute. They print graphics and colors at a quite slower rate.

image showing the inkjet printer

Inkjet printers have higher print quality than dot matrix printers. They are comparatively inexpensive. Most inkjet printers have two print cartridges. One cartridge contains black ink but the other contains color instead of black.

 Thermal Printer

A thermal printer uses color waxes and heat to produce images on special paper. The black-and-white output does not require color wax sheets. Thermal printers are expensive. These printers are used to create the highest-quality color printing.

Uses of Printer

Printers are commonly used at different places for different purposes, such as:

Personal use

Many people use printers at home to print documents, photos, and other materials.

Business use

Printers are essential for businesses to print invoices, contracts, marketing materials, and other documents.


Teachers and students use printers to create course materials, assignments, and other educational resources.


Printers are used in the publishing industry to produce books, magazines, and newspapers.


Medical professionals use printers to print prescriptions, lab results, and other medical documents.


Government agencies use printers to produce official documents such as permits, licenses, and certificates.


Printers are used in manufacturing to print labels, barcodes, and other product information.

Art and design

Artists and designers use printers to create prints of their artwork, as well as to produce design proofs and mock-ups.


Photographers use printers to create high-quality prints of their photos for display or sale.


Retail stores use printers to print receipts, price tags, and other customer-facing materials.

Sublimation Printer

A sublimation printer is specifically created to transfer the artwork onto an object by converting it into a gaseous state. This is achieved through the use of a high-temperature heat press.

One of the primary benefits of a sublimation printer is that it infuses the printed image into the material itself. Instead of simply placing the image on the surface, sublimation printers bond the ink colors directly into the fabric.

This ensures that the image remains vivid and vibrant over time, without any risk of peeling or fading.