Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What a Printer Can Do Today vs Ten Years Ago

The development of computer printers began in 1938. Early printers served big computer applications in big business. It was all a question of size. The development after the 1980s has focused mostly on serving the home desktop, a problem of size, ink cartridges, price, and customer demand.

Laser Printers
The original Xerox printers included a xerographic imaging process. But, modern laser printing peripherals use a scanning laser beam that adheres the ink to the paper. For color printing, each process requires separate passes through four primary color toners. Laser printers remain popular for high-quality color and black/white images, but size and cost discourage purchase by the average home user.

Inkjet Printers
Liquid inkjet printers dominate the home market and a good share of business needs. Inkjet technology depends on the propulsion of different-sized droplets from ink cartridges onto paper. In recent years, inkjet printers have increased in quality and speed - at increasingly low prices. 

Ink cartridges found in today''s printers are "drop-on-demand;" droplets of ink fire through tiny nozzles onto paper of different sizes. Depending on the brand, the system that squirts the ink may differ in its configuration and the software that directs the mechanics of the drop on demand. A Canon ink cartridge will differ slightly from another brand.

Today''s Printers
Today''s printer is much smaller than any ten-year old printer. Most of the room is taken up by the paper feeders in and out trays. Motor and memory take up very little space, but the mechanism has to be designed to handle standard paper widths, typically 8.5". Paper size and the ink cartridge engineering will determine the overall printer bulk well into the future. 

Today''s printers can print on two sides and a variety of papers. They print very high quality color photographs and transparencies. Some printers use a gravity feed, and others use several feed sources. Most mid-priced printers are multi-purposed to fax, scan, copy, and game. Many accept interface with USB thumb drives and memory cards. They may have touch-screen operation and password protection. And, most computers of this generation have wireless capabilities, connecting to a number of computers and laptops on the same network.

Tomorrow''s Printers
Tomorrow''s printers will print faster at lower cost with recyclable ink cartridges. Big office printers will print larger papers at faster speed. But, some considerable focus will shift from paper printing to interface with the cloud for other office functions, like organization, indexing, and storage. At home, this means that the order to print on one computer will print more quickly in another room while retaining and filing the document for recall. And, finally, 3-D printing will become common and useful for illustrative purposes in reports and teaching applications. 

Computer peripherals will become marketing tools able to outreach as well as take printing orders!

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