Laser printers are today an indispensable part of every office, which are advanced printing devices. It is a non-impact version of a photocopier that has keys striking on the paper while printing.
So, how does a laser printer work?
They work based on a scientific process involving lasers, carbon, electrical charges, and static heat. Many types of printers are available in the market, but a laser printer is chosen for use with computers.
Invented in 1969 by Gary Starkweather, it became popular in the mid-1980s. Ideally, laser printers took the place of impact dot matrix printers or inkjet printers. One usually has to connect the laser printer with a personal computer for printing. However, with more advancements in printers, it is now possible to connect with a LAN (Local Area Network), which is useful for printing in offices or work departments.
The laser printer is a progressive version of the photocopier and modern-day computer printer for several reasons.
We will explore more about it in this blog. Let’s take a read.
A Brief Background Story of Laser Printers
In real, the dot matrix printers used in the 1950s have a major link to the invention of laser printers.
IBM introduced the dot-matrix printer in 1957, and two years later, Xerox pioneered the first photocopier.
The dot-matrix printers used a printing technology with ink ribbon, typically used for typewriters. It gave a series of miniature consistent dots to print a low-resolution image or text.
Laser printers work quite similarly to the photocopiers. Photocopiers use a dry printing technology called xerography. It attracts toner particles into the paper by using positive and negative charges.
On the other hand, in laser printing technology, the photocopiers used an imaging unit having a laser beam along with a rotating mirror for printing. While the laser left positively charged images on the paper, the paper attracted the negatively charged toner particles when the heat energy fused them to the surface of the page.
Gary Keith Starkweather, a working engineer at Xerox came up with the idea of a modified copier with the laser beam technology.
It wasn’t until 1977 that Xerox introduced a commercial laser printer named Xerox 9700, highly useful for offices. Later, HP introduced the laser printing technology in printers, known as HP LaserJet. It was a compact and efficient printer used with PCs and helped in the fast printing of copies. It was during this time that laser printers became popular in the market.
How Does A Laser Printer Work? A Simple Explanation
Laser printers are mostly used in offices or home businesses with the help of a cable/internet connection and a computer.
But how do laser printers work? Of course, they make use of lasers. Now, let’s find out how.
Laser printers use the basic technology of photocopiers. They are a bit improved version of the photocopiers. Before jumping into the full technical steps of laser printer technology, we present here how does a laser printer works with a simple explanation.
The laser printers operate by employing a heated wire to impart a positive charge to a drum. Subsequently, a laser is passed over the drum’s surface, which changes the charge in the areas where it strikes. The regions now get a negative charge, and those regions correspond to the image or text to be printed.
For the printing procedure, a toner roller is hovered over the drum, which makes the toner particles adhere to the negatively charged regions. A sheet of paper is put underneath the toner-coated drum to transfer the toner onto its surface. This subsequently generates a high-end printed replica of the text or image.
While this is the most basic explanation of how does a laser jet printer works, the laser printing technology has gone through many improvements since then. It is now a fully dependable and efficient printing method, used for commercial purposes as well as printing at home.
Laser beam technology delivers precise results i.e., high-resolution images that make these printers an ideal equipment for offices and bustling business places.
6 Elementary Parts Of A Laser Printer
Every modern-day printer employing laser technology has 6 crucial components. Each component has a critical role in the working of a laser printer. Let’s find out how does a laser printer works with them.
1. High-voltage power supply
You need a high-voltage power supply to charge the drum. The power supply is useful for turning AC into high voltages, which is a mandatory requirement for the laser transferring process.
2. Photosensitive drum
The drum is an indispensable component of a laser printer whose surface has an affinity towards the positively charged toner particles. The printers usually have a corona wire for carrying a high voltage.
When the drum is charged well during the printing process, the laser beam gets to the drum’s surface through mirrors. It is during this process that the printer scans the image or text document to the drum.
3. Corona wires
There is a primary corona wire and a secondary wire or transfer wire. The primary corona wire is important for charging the drum positively, which is necessary for attracting the toner particles to the surface.
4. Toner cartridges
This is basic for every printer. With microscopic ink particles or powder, which is called toner, the laser printer prints a given image or document. When the fuser unit gets a heater, it melts the tones and releases to the paper under pressure to print on the paper. Toners also use common colours or CMYK colours (Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) just like the toner cartridges.
5. Fuser unit
The fuser unit has two heated rollers, which fuse the toner particles or ink into the paper. Under high heat and pressure, the toner particles melt and bond with the paper.
6. Washer toner bottle
The laser printer has a washer toner bottle for collecting unused toner particles from the drum after the printing process. The extra toner is then collected in the reservoir, which is replaced after it is full.
How Does A Laser Printer Work? A Step-By-Step Explanation Of The Laser Printing Process
You might think that the laser printing process is full of complexities and need technical expertise to use a laser printer.
But, wait? There’s nothing to freak out. Once you know well how does a laser printer works step by step, it becomes easy to understand the machine’s operations and print your documents with it.
Take a look at the following steps of the intricate laser printing process.
1. Sending the data or image
To start with the printing, first start by breaking the document into a digital form and sending it to the computer that will be used for printing.
The printer gets the digital document from the computer and processes its data/image to print on paper.
Laser printers go through a mandatory cleaning procedure before printing a document. This step is essential to clean away all the print residues of the earlier printing job. It is necessary to prepare the laser printer for the next job.
In the cleaning process, a rubber-based cleaning blade removes all the residues of toner left on the drum by scraping. There are also some electrical charges remaining on the drum from the previous job. There are electrostatic lamps in the printer, which then defuse the remaining electrical charge from the last printing job.
Lastly, the printer applies lubrication to the heated roller ensuring there is enough heat on the surface, which is necessary for image/data transfer.
3. Conditioning To Prepare
There is a step called ‘conditioning’ necessitated by the laser printers. It applies a charge to the drum unit and the printing paper. When the static charge applies to the paper, it transfers the image to it.
Needless to say, static electricity plays a dominant role in the laser printing process. It is a similar kind of force that you experience when you rub a balloon against your hair or when a nylon cloth touches another fabric.
If you want to know how a laser printer works with static electricity, here is the answer.
The main charge roller starts moving and turns the nearby organic photoconductor (OPC) drum. Tiny charged particles on the corona wire cover the drum with static electricity.
Now, the process of creating an image or text on paper starts at the molecular level. The drum finishes one full turn while being charged negatively.
The next is the laser exposure step. During this step, the photosensitive drum gets exposed to the laser beam. Due to this, the charge on every area on the surface of the drum reduces to 100 volts DC.
The printer’s drum rotates next, and an invisible latent print is created due to this. The image you need to print appears on the machine but as an extremely thin layer of positively charged particles on the drum.
The glow of the laser beam breaks the darkness generated within the printer cartridge. The beam reflects the multi-sided mirror and breaks into rays, spreading information onto the OPC drum and converting the negative charge into a positive.
Line-by-line or part-by-part, the laser comes into contact with the drum and describes the image or text with charged toner particles. This is also how does a colour laser printer works. The laser describes which part will be yellow, which one will be blue, and so on. The drum generates a positive charge image, ready to be transferred to the paper.
This is the main stage or development stage when the printer applies the toner to the hidden image or text. Toner is made of negatively charged powdered particles, including black, cyan, and magenta. The drum is held at a minimal distance from the toner with the help of a control blade.
Toner is a finely grounded plastic used for printing text or images. Other toner ingredients used in the printer are coloured pigments, fumed silica, and various control agents. Each of these has certain functions that help in the printing process.
Pigments create coloured printer toner cartridges, needed for generating colour prints. Fumed silica is useful for preventing the toner particles from sticking or stamping together. The control agents used in the printer are usually zinc or chromium particles, which take away the negative electrostatic charge of the toner particles.
This step is of immense importance if want to know how does a laser printer engine works. To transfer images or text to the paper, the secondary corona wire or the transfer roller infuses a positive charge into the paper. On this, the agitator unit existing inside the toner cartridge hopper turns, and the toner starts heating up.
The toner adder rotates pulling in the toner and gathering toner dust on its surface. The blade then scrapes over the nearby developer roller and leaves the toner at a specific height.
Due to lots of spinning and continuous commotion, the magenta particles on the surface get a negative charge. And, when they come in contact with the positively charged image or text on the drum, the law of attraction works! The negatively charged toner is automatically attracted to the positively charged parts of the paper.
The magenta-coloured toner particles are attracted from a storage unit onto the drum, following the exact directions given by the laser. Some magenta particles go here, some there, and some mix with black, yellow, and blue to create a beautiful array of colours, like a rainbow.
The laser beam gives precise instructions and pulls magenta toner particles from the developer onto the drum. Some magenta toner particles go here, several go there, and a bunch more mix with black, yellow, etc., to many beautiful colours.
The paper is rolled over different colour cartridges, including magenta, yellow, and lastly, black. This gradually transfers the image into the paper.
We explained this step well to help you understand how does a colour laser printer works and how you get beautiful high-resolution multi-coloured images printed.
This last step, called fusing works with heat and pressure that the fuser unit applies to the toner. The toner then creates a strong bond with the paper. As this process is delicate and might cause the paper to stick to the toner, the fuser unit has a Teflon film cover. This prevents the toner from sticking to the sheet of paper and ensures clean printing.
This is how the fusing takes place. The fuser unit melts the toner powder and gets it onto the paper to create the image or text. The wiper blade simultaneously cleans any residues from the OPC drum and transfers them into the bin. It also removes any remaining charge on the drum to make it ready for the next printing job.
Any extra toner that was not transferred to the drum eventually gets back to the hopper and will be used for the next printing process. However, any toner that stays on the drum is cleaned and sent to the waste bin.
Different Types of Laser Printers
Now that you know how does a laser printer works, it is also important to know the different types of printers available today to make an informed decision.
While all printers work on the basic scientific laser beam technology, there are different types based on the colour, size, and functions they afford.
• Monochrome laser printer: Monochrome laser printers print text or images only in black and white. This is a basic laser printer used today for printing plain texts or simpler images.
• Colour laser printer: As the name suggests, colour laser printers are useful for printing any images or text copies with colours such as cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. This is best for printing photographs and graphics, usually needed for marketing materials.
• Compact laser printer: If you need smaller printers to keep at your home or small-sized office, a compact printer is what you need.
• Multifunctional laser printer: A multifunction laser printer comes with additional features or functionalities, such as scanning, faxing, WiFi connectivity, and many more. When you need an all-in-one printing solution that saves you from the hassle of having separate devices for different functions, a multifunction printer is what you need.
Laser printing revolutionised the printing process and made it faster and better in quality. Here are the most compelling benefits of laser printers that are increasing the demand for laser printers. All the features are a must to consider if you wish to get all-in-one printers for your work/office.
• Fastest printing speed
Being the most advanced printing technology today, laser printers can print nearly 25-50 pages per minute. Even, some of the high-grade models can print up to 100 pages a minute. The fast printing capabilities of the laser printer ensures that it is the best device for offices or busy work environment that requires higher efficiency and productivity.
• Toner cartridges are easy to maintain
The toner cartridges used for laser printers are most durable and hence are easy to maintain. They allow you to print for eternity with minimal or no maintenance required. Toners also do not dry if you leave the printer unused for days. All these cause you to replace the toner less frequently!
• High-quality and sharp prints
For the laser printer, when the toner bonds with the paper, the printing results are amazing. For this reason, a laser printer is best for professional printing purposes and special purposes like photographs, celebratory images, brochures, marketing materials, etc.
• Cost-effective printing
The fast printing capacities of the laser printer ensure that you have heavy volumes printed at one time. This makes the use of laser printers highly economical for any office setting or business place.
• Multifunctional capabilities
Laser printers are also the best printing devices for offices because they come with multifunctional capabilities. It has additional features like duplex printing, scanning, wireless printing from smartphones/tablets, and USB connectivity. All these make laser colour printers a must-have for offices as they need less space but can afford a range of functions.
Laser Printers Vs. Inkjet Printers: Which Is Better?
If you are planning to buy a printer for your office, you might get confused between an inkjet printer and a laser printer. Here we provide information about how does a colour laser printer works. We hope you now understand that laser printing comes with an exceptionally advanced printing process. No doubt it is better than an inkjet printer! However, here’s a to-the-point difference between the two to help you decide.
• Ink toner: Inkjet printer uses liquid ink cartridges while laser printer uses powdered toner.
• Print quality of documents: Since the letters are printed with liquid ink in inkjet printers, they are not usually sharp or clear. On the other hand, laser printers with powdered toner deliver crisp and sharper text.
• Print quality of photos: Inkjet printers enable the printing of vivid and high-resolution images. Laser printers allow high-quality image printing but, they are not as clear as inkjet printers.
• Upfront costs: Inkjet printers are less costly than laser printers.
• Long-term costs: Inkjet printers have comparatively higher long-term costs because there is a frequent need for replacing cartridges and they also have a higher maintenance cost. Toner cartridges need replacing less often even though they are costlier than ink cartridges. This makes their long-term maintenance costs comparatively lower.
So, which is better: a laser printer or an inkjet printer?
Weighing the above crucial performance factors of both printers, it is cool to say that laser printers are better when you have bulk printing requirements every day. It is especially a great option for offices or business places that need to print usual text documents, receipts, charts, graphs, and photos regularly for numerous business purposes.
However, if you know well how does a laser printer works in a video or in real, you can understand that it is unsuitable for minimal printing tasks. It is also not ideal when you want to print bright photos. For low-volume printing and vivid photos, an inkjet printer is the better option.
Also, while deciding between the two, we recommend you consider three vital factors apart from their features, i.e., print resolution, toner cost, and printing speed.
Get The Best Laser Printer From Munster Business Equipment!
High-quality laser printers are good for many printing jobs, from simple texts, marketing materials, reports, and receipts to graphs and images. For this reason, laser printers are high in demand in offices or workspaces. In this blog, we revealed the technology and process behind the laser printers, explaining the journey of digital data to printed letters or characters on paper.
Some key features that make laser printers useful for office printing jobs are higher document print resolution, wireless printing, greater print speed, multiple print formats, duplex printing, and multifunctional capabilities.
Need a multifunctional laser printer for your office? If you have learned how does a laser printer works sustainably, efficiently, and cost-effectively, get in touch with Munster Business Equipment and explore our range of high-grade printers.
We are a leading office equipment supplier in Ireland offering businesses various types of office essential equipment, from multifunction printers to interactive touch devices. We are known for supplying top-notch printing solutions to businesses that accelerate their work productivity and efficiency. Browse our best-in-class printers today to find suitable devices for your office.
• How does a laser printer work?
A laser printer works with heated wire that firstly charges the drum positively and then transfers as a negative charge to the areas that it strikes through a laser. As a result, the negatively charged areas of the drum form the text or image to print.
Next, a toner roller is passed over the charged drum when the toner powdered particles stick to the negatively charged areas. Subsequently, the paper is placed under the toner-coated drum, which causes the toner to be placed on its surface. This finally creates a print copy of the text or image.
• Does a laser printer need ink?
No, laser printers don’t need ink. They work with powdered toner particles instead of any dye, liquid ink or pigmented ink.
• How does a laser printer work with static electricity?
Laser printers generate electrostatically charged areas on the sensitive OPC (Organic Photoconductor) drum that have an affinity to the toner powder. During printer, the toner transfers to the paper and bonds with it under heat and pressure.
• Which one is better: a laser printer or an inkjet printer?
The answer depends on your printing job. If you need a printer for low-volume printing or higher-resolution images, an inkjet printer is ideal. However, for large-volume printing requirements, which usually happen in offices or business environments, laser printers will serve the best.
• What to consider before buying a laser printer?
To know which printer is better for you, evaluate and compare them on three crucial factors, print quality (Dots per inch), toner cost, and colour printing speed. You can consider a laser printer good and cost-effective for you if it has a higher DPI, lower toner cost, and higher printing speed.
• What are the key advantages of a laser printer?
Laser printers have several advantages, especially in an office environment and that is the main reason their demand is consistently increasing. Here are some of the key features that are worth mentioning.
• Wireless printing
• Unmatched printing speed
• Ease of paper handling
• Numerous printing formats
• Duplex printing
• Multifunctional capabilities such as fax, scan, and email.