Printing with high-quality text and graphics can be a hassle, but laser printers solve that for you. Not only that, but it presents a truckload of other benefits, such as affordability, minimal maintenance, and much more.
If you’re looking to learn all about how laser printers work and why you should have one in your home, then keep on reading because we’re here to fill you in!
If you find yourself needing to print out large quantities of pages at once, you may have experienced other printers jamming up or otherwise failing to give you what you need on time.
Laser printers can print surprisingly big volumes without any issues, no matter what the design/colors are. Moreover, the toner used in laser printers sticks and is fused to the paper with heat, so it doesn’t get all wet and messy like inkjet printer ink can.
Aside from being able to print large volumes, they are capable of doing so in a timely manner. We know lasers to be speedy, and that’s no exception here. The lasers these printers use move very quickly, making printing much faster. This is partly why printing a ton of pages at once doesn’t take all day to finish!
While the upfront cost of the printer itself tends to be a bit steeper, you’ll likely end up saving money in the end. Laser printers are able to print more for less, as they don’t require ink cartridges! Instead, they utilize toners, which print more for the same price as what a cartridge could do.
We all know the whirring and clanking around printers tend to produce while in use. With laser printers, most times, there’s no noise at all! If the room you’re in is practically silent, then you may notice something but by no means is it distracting or annoying.
Inkjet printers regularly need a new cartridge or two and must be properly aligned to print the right way. The print heads regularly need cleaning and realignment, so you have to pay attention to this.
Not only that, but the ink can dry up in little components at times, which requires even more attention. In contrast, laser printers’ toners are simply replaced when needed, and that’s it!
Laser Printer Components & Parts
Understanding How A Laser Printer Works
Preparing and Storing Data
The document passes through the model’s communication port onto the Printer Controller Unit, converting the data into a binary dot pattern(s) which become stored in the Raster memory. Once this is done, the printer will determine from the 4 toner inks which should be used.
Charging the Photoreceptor/Photoconductor Drum
A rotating drum or belt covered in a photosensitive coating receives a positive charge or polarity by means of a corona wire or primary charge rollers (newer models only, usually). The rasterized data kept in the memory can now be streamed to a fixed-position laser.
Exposing the Image
Light photons given off from the laser move through a moving polygonal mirror, with the photons discharging points on the photoconductive drums, which belongs to the original document we referred to in the first point.
Each bitmap dot is equal to a laser pulse, where empty space means no pulse. This means you'll get an exact electrostatic copy of the data stored onto the positively-charged spots on the drum.
Developing the Image
Through the developer unit, the toner powder becomes positively charged, attracted to only the proper areas (the image), which are negatively charged on the drum's surface.
Transferring Image to Paper
The corona wire charges the paper with a negative charge even more powerful than the image on the drum, so the paper pulls the toner powder from the drum to create the perfect image on paper.
Fusing of Image to Paper
The Detac corona wire discharges the paper, while coated rollers make sure powder doesn’t stick to the drum and fuser assembly. The dry powder is then heated onto the paper with the use of rollers. The paper then moves through quickly to avoid becoming too hot.
Cleaning of Photoreceptor
Lastly, any excess charge on the drum is discharged, and a rubber blade cleans off any leftover toner which is moved into the waste toner compartment. Some models actually move excess toner into a developer unit to be used again, though this isn't normally the case.
Lasers Printers Vs. Photocopiers
The most notable difference between the two is the way the image is created on a photosensitive drum. A photocopier utilizes a light and lens to focus in on the original image, projecting onto the drum.
A laser printer uses a laser beam to scan each line on the drum, with most newer models using infrared solid-state laser diodes like what you’ll see used in CD players.
Printers use cartridges which does add to the cost of use, while photocopiers use solely toner. However, the more features, the more expensive the photocopier is.
Newer photocopiers are smart machines and can do their job without someone having to stand there and “babysit” it. Printers have to be hooked up to a device, whether by USB or Bluetooth.
If you’re just printing on the same size of paper, you’re probably better off with a laser printer. However, if you’ll be using various sizes of paper, you can do this with a photocopier – even with different sizes simultaneously!
Just remember that photocopiers don’t print, so if you print more than you duplicate, you’ll need a laser printer.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What do I do when the toner is running out?
First, go get some toner! Then, open the printer door so you can remove the drum assembly. Simply do this by pulling it straight out. Next, take out the used cartridge, pressing the level on the drum assembly.
Make sure you aren’t forcing it. Remove the new cartridge from its box, ensuring you don’t remove the plastic packaging. If you notice the toner is all settled to one side, gently shake the cartridge.
Next, take out the new one from the plastic, taking off all sealing tape. Make sure to avoid touching the imaging drum on the bottom. Snap the new cartridge into place. Once in place, move the drum cleaning lever back and forth and put the entire drum assembly back in, closing the printer's access port.
What steps should I take to maintain my laser printer?
Before you do anything, make sure you completely turn off and unplug your printer. We also recommend wearing a mask and latex gloves to protect yourself from toner particles. Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, free of wind, breeze, AC, fans, etc.
It’s best to follow what your printer’s manual indicates, so keep this handy and safe. Remove any dust and grime that may have built up on your laser printer as it can not only cause jams but can reduce the quality of printing. This is most easily done with canned air or a pressure-controlled vacuum.
Try to keep your printer updated with the latest drivers offered by the manufacturer. They’ll usually be accessible through their website.
Is a laser printer better than an inkjet?
There’s not one that’s really “better” than the other: rather, they each have their own pros and cons. Laser printers are by far faster, less likely to jam up, and overall cheaper to use. However, inkjets are known to produce slightly better photos/color documents.
Do laser printers dry out?
Nope! Toner doesn’t dry out as it’s already a dry powder!
How long will a laser printer last?
This, of course, depends on how well/often you maintain it, though you can expect your average model to last around 5 years.
Should I turn off the laser printer when not in use?
It’s really up to you. You will save a bit of electricity by turning it off when you aren’t using it, and some models also come with a nice power-saving mode that could be handy.
Do laser printers need special paper?
No, you can just use regular printer paper!
Are laser printers hazardous to health?
It’s been reported that laser printers can emit some toner particles into the air, though the quantity emitted is debatable. You’re better off sitting a reasonable distance away from it, though it isn't likely to negatively affect your health.
Now that you know all you need to about laser printers, have you decided to get one for yourself? They're machines that can really make work and art projects a lot easier, and we're sure you won't regret it.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.