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Printer - Laser Printers
Laser printers are becoming increasingly popular among home and business users due to their ability to print faster than an inkjet printer. Laser printers might be more expensive, but the cost of maintenance is lower than inkjet printers.

Your printing needs will determine which printer you need. Click here to read more about Inkjet Printers.

How Laser Printers Work
  1. Rasterizing an Image

  2. When a document is sent to the printer, the printer driver translates the image to the printer, via the port connection.

    For the computer and the printer, controller to communicate they need to "speak" the same language. There are two primary languages used in laser printers: Adobe's Postscript and HP's Printer Command Language (PCL). Each language describes everything on the page including fonts, graphics, spacing and colors.

    When the printer's controller receives the data, the Raster Image Processor (RIP) will then break down all the information into a raster image or into a series of dots.

  3. Writing

  4. To create the image on the photoreceptor drum, first a corona wire or a charged roller, will give a positive electrostatic charge to the drum. As the drum rotates, the laser "draws" the raster image across the drum by creating a pulse of light for each dot of the image. Each pulse of light is altering the electrical charge of the drum.

  5. Developing

  6. Once the page is created, the toner is coated onto the drum. First, the developer unit moves through the toner. Because the developer unit has a negative charge, it picks up the positively charged toner. The developer then passes through the drum assembly. Because the drum assembly has a stronger negative charge it attracts the toner to make it "stick" the image onto the drum.

    After the toner is coated onto the drum the corona wire will give a sheet of
    paper negative charge to pull the toner off the drum. The drum and the paper are moving at the same speed letting the paper pick up the image exactly as it was created on the drum.

    In color laser printers, the developing process is repeated four times, once for each color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).

  7. Fusing

  8. With inkjet printers, the liquid ink is absorbed into the paper once it hits the paper. But toner is a powdery substance so there is nothing holding it to the paper but the electric charge. To set the image to the paper, the paper is passed through the fuser. With the heat and pressure of the fuser, the toner is "melted" into the fibers of the paper.

  9. Cleaning

  10. To prepare for the next page, soft plastic blades wipe off any excess toner left on the drum. The drum then passes through the discharge lamp to "erase" any electrical charge left on the drum. To begin the process again, the drum is recharged by the corona wire.

Parts of an Laser Printer & How they Work
  • Photoreceptor Drum:

  • The core of the laser printer. A metal cylinder, made of a layer of photoconductive material, which holds the raster image created by the laser.

  • Corona Wire:

  • A charged wire that gives off an electrostatic charge to both the drum and paper.

  • Fuser:

  • Heated by internal lamps, paper passes through the two rollers to fuse the toner into the fibers of the paper.

  • Developer Unit:

  • A collection of small, negative charged, magnetic beads that are attached to a rotating metal roller. The developer unit moves the magnetic beads through the toner hopper to pick up toner to be deposited onto the drum.

  • Toner:

  • A powdered ink that is given an electrical charge so it can "stick" onto the drum and paper. Since toner is fused to the printed material, it doesn't bleed or smudge easily as liquid ink.

  • Toner Hopper:

  • The small container where the toner is stored.

  • Discharge Lamp:

  • Removes any residual charge left on the drum after a page as been printed.

  • Laser Unit

  • Movable mirror: When the laser is "Drawing?the page, instead of moving across the drum it bounces the beam off a movable mirror.

    Lens: As the mirror moves, it shines through a series of lenses.

  • Printer Driver:

  • A printer driver is software that acts as a translator so that the printer can understand data and instructions from your computer. The driver describes the text, image, etc. to be printed and translates it into the printer language.

  • Controller:

  • The controller is essentially the "command station" of the printer. The control circuitry is responsible for decoding the information sent from the computer, via the printer driver, to the printer, as well as controlling the various parts of the printer
Buying Guide
Are you going to be printing primary black and white documents or are you going to be printing color graphics? Is the printer for personal home use or for a small office?

  • Faster than inkjets
  • Less maintenance
  • More expensive
  • Only higher end models print in color
Price Range
  • $200 & Up

Which Laser Printer is Right for Me?
Features to Consider