Archive for October, 2011
First marketed in 1976, inkjet printers have come a long way in the last few decades. These days, inkjet printers can rival the speed of some laser printers while still creating vibrant, true-to-life images. There are two primary types of drop-on-demand inkjet printers, piezoelectric and thermal, with the latter being far more common.
When a job is sent to a thermal inkjet printer, a resistor within the printhead is immediately heated. This will cause the ink in the hopper to expand into an air bubble within the printhead (which is where the Canon-coined name ‘BubbleJet’ comes from). The ink air bubble is forced through the nozzles (Typically thermal inkjet printers have 300 – 600 nozzles per ink cartridge) and onto the selected media, where it regains liquid form and dries onto the paper. Once that air bubble pops, a vacuum pull is created, which sucks more ink from the cartridge into the printhead for the next bubble.
Here is a quick video as a visual aid:
*Thermal inkjet printers are different from thermal printers. Getting these two types of machines confused would be a very bad thing for business. Thermal inkjet printers are commonly found in small offices and homes whereas thermal printers are specifically designed for printing labels and receipts on special thermal paper.*
Most major manufacturers, including HP, Canon and Brother use the thermal inkjet technology. Epson has patented piezoelectric inkjet technology, which implements the same concept as thermal but ejects ink using vibrations rather than heat. Both technologies are innovative and constantly getting better, providing offices and homes with crisp, professional documents as well as vivid, colorful photos.
Though not available for all laser printers, many models offer a choice between standard and high-capacity cartridges. The primary differences are obvious- price and capacity. High-capacity cartridges are going to yield more prints, but you will have to spend more money upfront. Generally, these bigger cartridges are best suited for homes or offices with heavy print volumes. If you currently use the standard size cartridge and find yourself replacing it more frequently than you would like, the high-capacity version might be a better option.
Let’s say your office has an HP LaserJet 4250 that is being used to print hundreds of documents a day. If you are using the standard cartridge, which yields 10,000 pages, you are probably purchasing replacements as often as once a month. This could be very time-consuming. If you opted to use the high-capacity cartridge, which can yield up to 20,000 prints, you would reduce the need for replacements by 50%, even though the price is a little higher upfront. You could purchase three at a time to ensure you always have backup toner and you would only need to order cartridges twice a year.
Below are the two cartridges available for the 4250 as well as the approximate cost per page based on the yield and price:
When you look at the overall cost savings, it seems to make sense to purchase the high-capacity cartridges, but it’s not always the best solution. If you do not print high volumes, purchasing a cartridge that can produce 20,000 documents is completely unnecessary and could potentially be more trouble than it is worth. Cartridges do not last forever, so if you get a high-capacity cartridge that is only used occasionally or is inactive for extended periods of time, you run the risk of it failing. Whilst in the printer, the cartridge is exposed to heat, moisture and other elements that could render it unusable.
High-capacity toner cartridges are a cost-effective option for high-volume printing, but might not be the best option for lower volume printing. Be aware of the needs of your home or office and purchase replacements accordingly.
The majority of users in the world require standard laser or inkjet printers that are fairly compact in size and that can produce high-quality prints using mostly standard paper sizes. However, there is a small group of users who need to print on larger formats such as banners, posters, and more. This is where large-format printers come in.
A large-format printer is large in size and can handle a wider range of media sizes: generally from 17 inches to 100 inches in width. In some cases, large rolls of paper are used rather than sheets, as these printers can continuously feed the media. Automatic or manual cutters will separate the printed page from the rest of the roll.
Because of the wide and tall frame of large-format printers, consumers must first make sure they have ample space available. When installing, multiple people may be required to move the printer, as most weigh well over 100 pounds, and some are over 300 pounds. Many of the devices have a support frame which includes wheels, however, to make them easier to move once they are set up. While smaller consumer units exist, they are generally limited to a width of 17 inches. Most large-format printers use inkjet technology for printing, as laser technology is not well-suited to larger media.
Another factor that differentiates large-format printers from typical consumer devices is the fact that they often use more colors, which increases the color accuracy of the output, but also results in higher replacement costs. The Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II, for example, uses 8 different colors of PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II ink cartridges, which can really add up over several replacement cycles. For more on this issue, see Costs of Large Format Printers.
Who Uses Them?
With the ability to print posters, banners, and signage, as well as sketches or drafts for blueprints, the target audience is generally in the architecture, advertising or engineering field. Offices that do not want to go outside the company to handle oversized printing jobs may need a large-format printer, as will advertisers that make signs and banners, or engineers that need to supply contractors with blueprints and sketches.
Overall, large-format printers may not be in huge demand by the majority of the world, and their bulky design and high price may be too much for average buyers. For the jobs they were built to handle, however, they are essential.
The standard colors that are found in most printers are cyan, magenta yellow and black. These four basic colors combined in different mixtures can generate a color gamut that includes thousands of colors. This extensive color spectrum creates sharp, vivid images that are pretty true to the original. However, certain photo printers from HP offer specialty photo inks that provide even more intricate color schemes to create the best photographs possible.
Sometimes these photo cartridges have their own slot next to the standard colors, but on some printers, such as the HP PhotoSmart B8300, the device can hold two cartridges at one time, but actually has four possible cartridges available. For this model, and others that are similar, the two primary cartridges are black and tricolor (cyan, magenta, yellow), and can handle standard printing needs. When it comes time to print a color photo, the HP 99 ink cartridge, which holds black, light cyan and light magenta ink, will be installed in place of the black ink cartridge.
There is also a photo gray cartridge for this model of printer, part number HP 100. The photo gray is installed in place of the black ink cartridge and will work alone when printing black-and-white photos. It can also work in conjunction with the tricolor cartridge or color photo cartridge to add texture and dramatic contrast to pictures.
If you buy a printer that has this relatively complicated photo printing system, it is imperative that you read through the user’s guide to understand exactly what cartridges are available, and the best use of each. You want to make sure you are getting the optimal results, so take a minute to get HP’s advice as to what that entails.