Impact Vs. Non-Impact Printers


Printed materials are important even though you can read material from electronic displays. In the office for example, hard copies are ultimately essential. Before purchasing a printer for the office, identify an ideal printer for your needs. Office printers are broadly categorized as impact printers and non-impact printers.

Impact Printers

  • Impact printers get their name from the way they work, by use of a print head containing metal pins which strike an inked ribbon between the print head and the paper. The three common types are dot-matrix, daisy-wheel and line printers. Dot-matrix printers use a rubber-coated cylinder. Daisy wheel printers have a similar mechanism to a manual typewriter. Line printers are almost similar to daisy-wheel printers but have a mechanism that allows you to print different characters on the same line at once.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Impact Printers

  • Impact printers give generally give a lower cost per page printing and the printed character is longer-lasting. They cost less to purchase than non-impact printers and they do not require special paper to print on. The disadvantages are that they are noisy and print slowly compared to non-impact printers. The ink ribbon has a short lifespan and has to be replaced frequently. The resulting image is of low print quality and, if used to print barcodes, there might be readability problems.

Non-Impact Printers

  • Non-impact printers use a cartridge which allows them to produce quality images quickly and quietly. The main types are thermal printers, laser printers and inkjet printers. In the thermal printer, characters are formed when heated elements come in contact with special paper resulting in darkened dots. Laser printers use a laser beam and powdered ink to produce dots that constitute images. Inkjet printers produce characters by spraying electrically charged or heated ink in fine jets onto the paper.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-Impact Printers

  • The printer cartridges and drums are recyclable, resulting in environmental benefits. Laser printers print high volumes in a short duration, while inkjet printers can produce quality images. A thermal printer works fast, quietly and is good for barcoding. Cartridges and drums are reusable, resulting in benefits for the environment. Some negative factors of this printer are that it costs more to purchase and operate. A laser printer occupies a lot of space and emits dust particles that can cause respiratory diseases. The cost of maintaining it is high.


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