Understanding Inkjet Printers – CompTIA A+ 220-801: 4.1

Inkjet printers have almost become the standard printer in most of our homes and home offices. In this video, you’ll learn about the inkjet printing process and the components required for inkjet printing.

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Inkjet printers, or perhaps more accurately ink dispersion printers, are a very common type of printing that you see, not only in large companies, but small companies, and even at home as well. One of the big reasons behind that is that these are pretty inexpensive technologies. It’s certainly less expensive than perhaps buying a laser printer, which has a lot of moving parts inside of it.

These are also very quiet. So if you’re in a quiet environment, if you’re working in a bank, if you’re a home office, if you’re in a very small office, you don’t want to have a lot of noise with your printer. These are fantastic because they’re so quiet when they’re printing.

These also can provide some very nice output. We can also get some fantastic output from these inkjet printers with some very high resolution. It’s very common these days to take your photos and use an inkjet printer to create a final output onto some glossy paper.

Some problems with the inkjet printers, however, are associated with the ink itself. These ink cartridges are very proprietary and they tend to cost quite a bit, especially when you compare it to the overall cost of the printer. This ink is also not usually permanent. Eventually, it will fade away. And if you’re looking to create some output that’s going to be used for many, many years down the road, then perhaps an inkjet printer should not be your first choice.

The ink itself on these inkjet printers also tends to clog. It dries up. And at the end of that printhead, makes it so that the printhead can’t get any of the ink out of the cartridge and onto the piece of paper. So there has to be a number of cleaning processes involved, sometimes these are daily processes, to make sure that the inkjet printer is still going to be able to operate properly for many, many weeks to come.

The inkjet cartridges themselves look something like this. They’re usually different colored ink cartridges. Usually there is a black. There’s a cyan. There is a magenta. And there is a yellow.

Those are the colors you have to produce not just the blacks, but the other colors that you would need. So any combination of these should be able to present some pretty vibrant colors in the final output of your inkjet printer.

And it’s very easy to replace these obviously. If you run out of magenta, you simply replace that with another magenta cartridge. If you run out of black, you only have to replace that single black cartridge. That makes it very, very easy to maintain yourself.

I mentioned that one of the challenges with inkjet printers is that they tend to clog up those printheads. One of the ways that we get around this in the consumer market is that the printheads themselves are part of the ink cartridge. That way when you run out of ink and you replace the ink cartridge, you are effectively replacing the printhead itself. And by doing that, you can always make sure there’s going to be a fresh printhead there.

If you’re working on an industrial type inkjet printer, you may have a fixed head, where you don’t swap it out with the ink. It depends on the type of printer you have. But for most environments, you’re going to have that printhead already part of the ink cartridge itself.

Because there are fewer moving parts inside of an inkjet when you compare it to a laser printer, there are fewer things that you have to maintain. But one of those things happens to be this little piece of rubber that feeds the paper into the inkjet printer itself. If this gets worn, if it gets dirty, then it’s not going to be able to pull the paper through.

So it’s important that this printer feed roller this you can find in your printer maintains its ability to grab that paper and pull it into the printer. Otherwise, you’ll start a print job and it won’t be able to pull the page through. Or it ends up pulling more than one page into the printer.

Another component that you’ll sometimes see on an inkjet printer is a duplexer. This is a great way to have a printout that’s going to print on both sides of the paper, without you going to the printer, flipping the paper over manually, and printing the other side. This duplexer does that for you. It’s usually connected to the printer or it’s an option that you would add to the printer, that takes the paper and effectively flips it over and sends it back through the printing process.

Another important moving part inside of the printer is this carriage and the belt that is used to move the carriage back and forth across the paper. We usually will put all of our ink cartridges right into the carriage. We lift up the cover the printer.

The carriage is where we would place those ink cartridges. We would lock them down. And then the entire carriage now moves back and forth whenever we need to take ink from those cartridges and get it on to a piece of paper.

If you’re using your inkjet printer for color output, maybe some color photographs or other color pictures, you want to be sure that the inkjet is calibrated properly. There is usually a program you can run on the printer, or external applications that you can run, that can print out some examples that will allow you to calibrate exactly how the output of the printer looks. That way you’re able to make minor changes to how the colors look, so that the final output will be properly represented on the piece of paper that you’re using.