Understanding Inkjet Printers – CompTIA A+ 220-901 – 1.14

Inkjet printers are popular output devices that use tiny drops of ink to create text and image on the page. In this video, you’ll learn how the internals of an inkjet printer work together to provide our printed output.

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Inkjet or ink dispersion technology printers are some of the most popular that you’ll find out there, probably because they’re so inexpensive to acquire. The printers themselves are using relatively inexpensive technology on the inside, making it a very cost effective way to get into doing some very high quality output. These printers are also very quiet, so you can have them at home or in a workplace and you can print and not disturb everyone around you. They’re also providing some very high quality output, so if you need something that is printer-ready, you can use something like an inkjet printer to provide that.

If there is a downside to an inkjet printer, it’s the cost of the ink. These ink cartridges are proprietary. If you have an HP inkjet printer, you need HP ink. If you have a Brother inkjet printer, you need Brother inkjet ink, and so on. And you’ll find that this inkjet ink is relatively expensive when you compare it to other types of printers. The ink that’s in this printer is also one that tends to fade over time. It’s not really designed for keeping information on a piece of paper for a long period. So if you’re archiving information and you need to access this information at some point in the future, you may want to use a different technology than an inkjet printer.

The ink that is in these inkjet printers also clogs very easily. Many inkjet printers will perform a daily maintenance where it will clean the print nozzles in an effort to try to keep this from clogging. The ink in an inkjet printer comes from these ink cartridges. These cartridges are full of different colored ink, and each drop of ink is pulled out of the cartridge and placed onto the paper. You often see these different colors referred to as CMYK. That stands for the colors themselves, which is the cyan, the magenta, yellow, and the key color, which is the black.

The print head that’s in an inkjet printer, especially the consumer inkjet printers that are on the market, have the print head integrated into the ink cartridge. Because this ink is able to clog very easily, by swapping out the print cartridge and the print head simultaneously, you’re able to avoid many of the problems associated with that. It’s not that way for all of the different print heads. Some printers have the print head built into the printer itself, instead of it being built into the ink cartridge. You’ll want to look at your printer and see how it’s configured on your particular model.

These are a couple of print cartridges that have the print head also built into them. This is the contacts on the back that allow the printer to interface with the ink cartridge. And if you look very closely, you can see the print head itself. It’s very small. And you can see it’s relatively inexpensive. It’s something that makes it very easy to swap out with the print cartridge all a one time. To be able to pull paper through an inkjet printer, the printer needs to have feed rollers. These feed rollers are going to pick up the paper and send it all the way through the entire printing path. Many inkjet printers will also include a duplexing function. So it will print on one side of the page. It will flip the page over, and send it back through the printer so that when you get the piece of paper, it’s printed on both sides and you didn’t have to manually turn the paper over yourself.

Here’s a close up of the feed rollers on this inkjet printer. There’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven feed rollers right on the front where it’s pulling the paper out of the paper tray and sending it through the printer. To create the output on the sheet of paper, we need to get the ink that’s in the ink cartridges onto the page. And to be able to move back and forth, the cartridges are often placed inside of a carriage. And the carriage is moved back and forth over the paper. If you don’t have a print head on the cartridges itself, it’s usually in this carriage that’s on the printer.

Underneath the carriage is usually a belt. And the belt is what’s pulling this carriage back and forth across the sheet of paper. There’s not a lot of moving parts inside of an inkjet printer. But if you are working on an inkjet printer, you need to be aware of that belt that will move that carriage back and forth. Here’s a close up of the belt and the carriage. You can see the carriage is on the right side with the ink cartridges inside of it. And the brown belt is here on the left side. And it’s used to pull this cartridge back and forth across the piece of paper.

We have four different ink cartridges inside of our inkjet printers. And there maybe four different print heads associated with those. So occasionally we may need to perform an inkjet printer calibration. This will align those very small nozzles to the paper and make sure that we get very crisp lines that the color is not overlapping each other. Their printer controls will usually have a calibration option. You can press a button and have it go through an automated calibration that outputs a sheet of paper that you can then use to compare how well the different calibrations are inside of that printer.

Here’s an example of one of these test pages on an inkjet printer. You can see there are a number of diagrams and different colors on the page so that you can really examine it and make sure that the alignment of these nozzles is exactly the way that it should be.