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Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds
Crossing the boundary: analogue universe, digital worlds

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5.5.2 Printers

Colour models were dealt with in Subsection 4.7.

You probably also own a printer. Many computers now come with them as part of a package. There are two main types in use today: inkjets and lasers.

InkJet printers work, as their name suggests, by firing tiny droplets of ink at the paper from a moving print head. Such printers can print in both colour and black and white. You may have noticed that the colour cartridge comes in three parts: cyan, magenta and yellow, indicating the colour model (CMYK) that the printer uses.

Laser printers produce very high quality print by firing a laser beam at a rotating, light-sensitive drum. They use a dry powder toner, rather than liquid ink and generally print only in black and white. Colour lasers are available, but are rather expensive for individual users. InkJet printers are now very cheap and so are favourites on the home market. However, ink cartridges are expensive to replace, so an inkjet is uneconomical if you have a lot of printing to do. Lasers are preferred in offices, where they are generally shared and can produce long print runs at low cost.

Both types of printer produce a digital output, as they render graphics and text by firing the laser, or ink, through a square matrix of tiny holes, as illustrated in Figure 32.

Figure 32
Figure 32 Printer matrix producing the character 'R’