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Definition: inkjet printer


A printer that propels droplets of ink directly onto the medium. Today, most inkjet printers are color printers that use four inks packaged in separate cartridges: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. The four "CMYK" cartridges are individually replaced, but beware single CMY cartridges, because when any one color runs out, the entire cartridge must be replaced. Inkjet printers run the gamut from less than a hundred to a couple hundred dollars for home use to thousands of dollars for commercial poster printers. See inkjet cartridge.

Consumables Add Up
Low-cost inkjet printers wind up costing more than many people realize because the cost of ink cartridges add up over time. It is prudent to purchase the extra-large cartridges if available.

Resolution Quality
For resolution quality, look at a text sample, not graphics. Graphics always look better than text. For color quality, be sure that samples from different models are printed on the same kind of paper. Coated specialty papers, although costly, greatly improve the printed results because they do not absorb the ink like regular copy paper. See solid ink printer, IRIS printer, printer and ink coverage.




First Inkjet Technology
The nozzle sprayed continuous droplets onto the paper or into the gutter. The nozzle synchronized the ink from the pump, while the charging tunnel selectively charged the ink into the gutter. The uncharged ink reached the paper.






Drop on Demand Printheads
In the thermal drop on demand method used by HP and Canon, ink droplets are forced out of the nozzle by heating a resistor, which causes an air bubble to expand. Epson uses a piezoelectric technique that charges crystals and expands the bubble.






Letter Size
The majority of desktop inkjet printers support standard letter-size or legal-size paper; however, printers that handle larger paper are widely available. This is one of HP's earlier DeskJets, which popularized the inkjet printer and helped bring prices down for the home and small business. (Image courtesy of Hewlett-Packard Company.)






Wide-Format Printers
Inkjet printers like these in VUTEk's datacenter have revolutionized the printing industry, enabling large, attractive graphics to be created one at a time. Such machines support up to eight colors and can print on a variety of media, including vinyl and textiles. (Image courtesy of VUTEK, a division of Electronics for Imaging, Inc., www.vutek.com)