What is a Printer | Types, Functions, List and Impact vs Non-Impact

By the end of this article, you will be able to understand what is a printer.

The printing potential by looking at the various types of printers, the Advantages, and disadvantages of printers.

Also, the difference between impact and non-impact printers, and which is suitable for home usage, etc.

What is a Printer?

What is Printer and its types
What are Printer and their types?

A printer is an external output device that uses computer data and produces output in the form of graphics/technology on paper. Printers have created big things.

Prints are also referred to as hard copies as the data are physically accessible and are a more permanent output type than the one displayed in the VDU (Visual Display Unit).

Printers may be divided into impact printers and non-impact printers.

Types of Printer

Printers can be grouped into two categories. They are as follows: –

  • Impact Printers
  • Non-Impact printers

A printer’s speed is normally shown in pages per minute (ppm). The printer’s resolution is expressed as dpi (dots per inch). The greater the number, the greater the resolution.

What is an impact Printer?

An impact printer forms characters and images on a piece of paper by hitting an ink ribbon mechanism that contacts the paper physically.

It’s a type of printer that works with paper via direct contact with the ink ribbon.

Usually, these printers are noisy but remain in use today as they are remarkable for their multi-part features.

An impact printer has the same mechanisms as the typewriter.

Examples of Impact Printers are:-

  • Dot-matrix printers,
  • Daisy-wheel printers,
  • and line printers.

Must Read:- Generation of Computers

What is a non-impact printer?

A non-impact printer forms characters and graphics on a piece of paper without hitting the paper.

It is a type of printer that doesn’t touch a ribbon to print it. They used technologies such as laser, xerographic, electrostatic, chemical, and inkjet.

In general, non-impact printers are much quieter. Maintenance or repair is less likely than earlier impact printers.

Examples of Non-Impact Printers are:-

  • Inkjet printers
  • and Laser printers.

Difference between Impact and Non-Impact printer

Sl. NoFeatureImpact PrintersNon-Impact Printers
1BehaviorCharacters and graphics are printed on paper by striking.Characters and graphics are printed on paper without striking.
2MechanicalFor printing, Electro-Mechanical devices are usedIt does not make use of the Electro-Mechanical device for printing.
3SpeedThese are faster. It Covers 250 words per secondThese are slower. Covers a page in 30 seconds.
4NoiseIt is very Noisy.It is silent.
5ExamplesDot-matrix printers, Daisy-wheel printers, and line printers.Inkjet printers and Laser printers.
Impact vs non-impact printer

Advantages and Disadvantages of Impact and Non-Impact Printers

 Impact PrintersNon-Impact Printers
AdvantagesIdeal for composite types of printing as they can quickly print across several layers of paper. It can stand up to dusty conditions, vibrations, and high temperatures.Generally, much quieter than impact printers as the process is not striking. It can produce high-quality outputs.
DisadvantagesDue to the striking operation usually noisy. Print consistency is similar to text, which is only appropriate for printing labels, envelopes, or invoices for mailing.It cannot print composite forms.

List of different types of Printer and their functions

We had created a list of different types of printers and their functions to make it easy for your to understand.

Dot-Matrix Printers

The dot-matrix printer uses 9 to 24-pin print heads. Such pins generate dot patterns to shape the individual characters on the page.

The dot-matrix printer of 24 pins produces more dots than a dot-matrix printer of 9 pins, which results in much better quality and clearer characters.

The basic rule is that the more pins the more letters on the document are clearer.

The pins hit the ribbon individually as the printing mechanism travels in both directions along the entire print line, from left to right, then right to left, and so on.

With a dot-matrix printer, the user can generate a color output.

Dot-matrix printers are inexpensive and usually print at speeds of between 100 and 600 characters per second.

Daisy-Wheel Printers

A daisy-wheel impact printer can be used to get the quality found in typewriters.

It is called a daisy-wheel printer because the printing mechanism looks like a daisy; a completely formed character at the end of each “Petal” creates a solid-line print.

A hammer hits a “petal” with a character against the ribbon, and it prints on the paper. Its speed is usually about 25-55 characters per second.

Also Read:- Computer Full Form

Line Printers

The character-at-a-time printers are too slow in a business where large quantities of material are printed; therefore these users need line-at-a-time printers.

Line printers, or line-at-a-time printers, use special devices that can print a whole line at once; usually, they can print the range from 1,200 to 6,000 lines per minute.

Drum printers, chain printers, and band printers are line-in-time printers.

Drum Printer

A drum printer is a large, cylindrical drum that has raised characters on its surface in strips.

The number of print positions over the drum is equal to the number on the paper. Usually, the number ranges from 80-132 print positions.

The drum rotates at a strong speed. A print hammer is placed behind the paper for each possible print position.

Those hammers hit the paper against the proper character on the drum as it moves along the ink ribbon.

Pressing each line requires one drum revolution. Typical drum printer speeds are between 300 and 2000 lines per minute.

Chain Printer

A chain printer uses a print chain, wrapped around two pulleys. Like the drum printer, every print location has one hammer.

Circuitry within the printer can detect when the correct character appears on the page at the appropriate print spot.

The hammer then hits the sheet, pressing the paper against a ribbon, and at the desired print place the character is placed.

The page left an impression on the character. The chain continues to rotate until all the print positions needed on the line have been filled.

The page then goes up to the next line to print. Chain printer speeds vary between 400 and 2500 characters per minute.

Band Printers

A band printer works similarly to a chain printer except that it uses a band rather than a chain and has fewer hammers.

The band printer has a steel band, divided into five 48-character parts each.

The hammers on a band printer are placed on a pump, which travels to the correct positions around the page.

Characters are struck by the hammers and rotated into place. You can easily alter the font styles by replacing a band or a chain.

Ink-Jet Printers

The inkjet printer is the first and most common type. They are still commonly used though a bit outdated since they are fairly priced.

Their greatest advantage is that they can effortlessly combine different colors.

While laser printers are quicker, inkjet printers give the best picture and image quality.

Versatility is another reason to choose an inkjet printer. Inkjet can print on a wide range of media as opposed to other types of printers.

You can print on a specially designed canvas for example. Plus, you can print on various paper sizes, from banner size to anything else.

Laser Printers

The majority of laser printers use light, photosensitive drums, or photoreceptor belts.

The source of light emitted from the laser shaft draws the image onto a spinning drum or photo-receptor plate.

During printing, the laser will scan the page line by line. There are four laser printer subtypes available, including monochrome, strong ink, single coloring, and four colorings.

The generally accepted writing method is black and white lasers, which offer content in black text.

The users who only print pictures from time to time would probably use the laser color printer.

LED printers also use toner and a spinning drum and are somewhat similar to laser printers.

LED Printers

Only the source of light makes them different. They provide light from a variety of LEDs.

This means they function in various ways. Some people consider laser printers less effective than LED printers with fewer moving parts.

Another benefit of LED printers is their weight and size. The small, light features make it best suited for small offices.

Category of Printers based on speed

According to the speed, there are the following categories of printers:-

  • Serial printers print one by one characters. Their speed is represented in characters per second and can exceed a few hundred characters per second.
  • Line printers simultaneously print all characters in one line. Their speed is represented in lines per minute, and for non-impact printers, it can exceed several thousand lines a minute.
  • Page printers that contain one or more pages buffer memories. Printing is achieved by preparing the image that will be printed in memory for a whole page, during which the paper is continuously advanced printing. The pace could exceed 50,000 lines per minute.

5 Important Factors to consider when buying a printer

Multiple factors should be taken into consideration when selecting a printer. Some of them are as follows –


That’s always a major factor. As well as the printer’s purchase price, consideration must be taken of the expense of printers, toners, cartridges, paper, maintenance, etc.

Some printers, like laser printers, have a short life span. A good printer’s price will cost quite a lot.

Inkjet printers are cheap nowadays while laser printers are more costly.


For a typist who needs to print a document on a word processor, a wait of one minute could be acceptable, but that would be unreasonable if several hundred documents (e.g. invoices and bills) needed to be printed.

Generally, the best printers are more costly and this needs to be taken into account along with the amount of work they have to do.

Print Quality

Good print quality is required for customer-friendly letters and other documents.

These documents are typically printed using laser nowadays. A programmer may, however, want a fast hard copy of a program’s listing.

you possibly should use a dot matrix printer for this.

Graphics printing ability

Using a laser printer, high-quality graphics like logos, diagrams, charts, and even photographs can be generated easily.

Dot-matrix printers can generate graphics that are of lesser quality. Daisy wheel printers can print text only.

Ability to generate text and color graphics

Inkjet printers are the widely used printers that are capable of color printing unless you are rich in having and maintaining a laser printer.

5 Types of printers best for home and office

Below is the list of printers that can be used commonly at home as they are affordable, provide great features –

  • Inkjet printers
  • Dot matrix printers

Some of the printers that can be used in offices are as follows. They provide large printing capacity, Quality and are quick and efficient:-

  • Laser printers
  • LED printers
  • 3D printers

We had written a brief article on types of printers for you and almost covered everything that you required to know. If in case you need us to cover any particular topic, please do comment on your view.

Other Popular Posts from the Author:-

Q1 – What is a printer in the computer?

A printer is an external output device that uses computer data and produces output in the form of graphics/technology on paper.

Q2 – What is the main function of the printer?

The main function of the printer is to print text or images.

Q3 – Which is the most commonly used printer?

The most commonly used printer is an inkjet followed by a laser printer.

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