How Inkjet Printers Work – An Easy to Follow Beginner’s Guide

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Updated November 15, 2022

Inkjet printers are one of the most commonly found types of popular printers in homes, home offices, and even professional settings. Because of their technology and the many different types of inkjet printers available, it may be hard to fully understand how different they are. Moreover, most consumers may be wondering exactly how they work.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Inkjet printers are an extremely common type of printer, often with great print quality. They are commonly found in home offices, bedrooms, and professional settings.
  • These printers work by spraying and shaping minuscule droplets of ink onto paper or a related surface type.
  • Inkjet printers come with their own set of advantages, including low entry costs, the ability to print in color, and small form factors.

How Inkjet Printers Work

Inkjet printers work by spraying paper with extremely small droplets of ink, which are then shaped into letters, images, and whatever else is needed. This is an extremely precise process, with the ink droplets being just 50 to 60 microns in diameter. These droplets are then arranged in concrete patterns, with resolutions of up to 1440 x 720 dots per inch (DPI). You can learn more about this process with our article on how printer ink works, and doing so may also help to understand how long printer ink is good for. Another printer you need to know how it operates is the wireless printer.

Advantages of Inkjet Printers

The unique design of an inkjet printer loans itself some distinct advantages in the marketplace.

Low Cost

Inkjet printers have been around for decades, which has given manufacturers plenty of time to source inexpensive components. In other words, inkjet printers tend to be much cheaper to purchase than laser printers, all-in-one printers, 3D printers, and nearly any other type of printer. There is a caveat when it comes to price, however, as the printers themselves are inexpensive, but the ink cartridges tend to run out quickly and can be costly to replace. As for Laser printers, they work better because of low toner cartridge replacement costs. Ink costs are not the only thing to consider when considering how much your printer costs. You should also consider how many amps a printer uses while in use. While most small, home printers won’t use much power, larger business printers can use a considerable amount depending on several factors.

Insider Tip

inkjet printers tend to be much cheaper to purchase than laser printers, all-in-one printers, 3D printers, and nearly any other type of printer.

Vivid Colors

Another distinct advantage to choosing an inkjet printer over another type of printer is that inkjet printers excel at creating color reproductions. Color inkjet printers tend to include a bevy of different-colored ink cartridges, typically following the CMYK color wheel. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Combining these four colors allow inkjet printers to create any other color imaginable. Inkjet printers are great for printing out color photos and vivid illustrations. Of course, if your printer is equipped with multiple ink cartridges of varying colors, each will need to be replaced regularly.

With that said, if you’d like a great inkjet printer with a substantial ink plan program, then you’ll want to read our HP OfficeJet Wireless Replenishment K7V40A review.

Small Form Factors

The key components that make up your average inkjet printer have become easier to manufacture in recent years, leading to smaller and more compact components and materials. In other words, inkjet printers can get pretty small and light, making them a great choice for dorm rooms, small bedrooms, small offices, and other cramped locations. This also makes them easier to move throughout the home when necessary. Smaller inkjet printers tend to be slightly more expensive than traditionally sized inkjet printers. The Canon PIXMA MG3620 is a good example of a rather compact inkjet printer.

Insider Tip

Color inkjet printers tend to include a bevy of different-colored ink cartridges, typically following the CMYK color wheel.

F.A.Q.

What types of printers are available today?

Many different types of printers are available today, including laser printers, inkjet printers, 3D printers, wireless printers, all-in-one printers, thermal printers, and more.


What’s different about inkjet printing?

Inkjet printing differs from laser printing and 3D printing in that inkjet printers spray small droplets of ink onto paper. These droplets can be as small as 50 microns in diameter.


What are the disadvantages of an inkjet printer?

Though inexpensive to purchase the printer itself, the ink cartridges will need to be replaced often. Additionally, inkjet printers are slower than laser printers when it comes to page printing speed.



STAT: The largest-volume inkjet printer supplier is Hewlett-Packard, which supplies over 90 percent of the market for printers for printing technical drawings. (source)

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