What Is A Printer? Components, Types, Pricing, Explained!

I don’t really know why but as a person who’s growing into the adulting phase (yes, I should’ve just called it adulthood, I’m still in denial, don’t mind me), one thing that definitely taught me is that any household should always have a printer. Because when I was younger, I didn’t care whether we had it or not. But, as soon as I stepped 18, so many things required something to be printed. Passport application? Print this! License application? Print that! Enrolling in a new school? Print this! Applying for a debit card? Print that! And so on.

what is a printer
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There are just so many things that are needed to be printed; most of them are requirements for official documents. That’s why I realized that every household needs a printer. Post-adulthood or pre-adulthood, a printer is still required.

Every relative of mine has asked me to print them something, whatever their age is and wherever it was needed. And I came to the conclusion that a printer is a must-have.

What Is A Printer?

I’m absolutely sure that we all know what a printer is. But what is its exact meaning? In layman’s terms, a printer is a device that creates a hard copy of a soft copy document. Hard copy, meaning a physical copy. It’s a magnificent device that makes everything so much easier. Printed information is much better than handwritten ones.

Also, printers are great if you want photos to be permanently hung on your wall.

Technically speaking, a printer is a machine that produces the physical representation of electronic data, whether it is for an official document or the lyrics of a song. When I was younger, I used to print everything—the cheat codes for GTA or The Sims, lyrics of my favorite songs, even photos of my celebrity crushes. 

And in today’s age, you can even print objects. Yes, objects. If you are unfamiliar, there’s a printer for objects called 3D printers.

How Do Printers Work?

Printer drivers and software translate the file’s original language into a format the printing device can read. The most popular printer for households are called inkjet printers, this type of printer uses liquid ink to produce tiny dots for every line, creating the whole image or text in your paper. Cartridges are composed of smaller holes, dispensing the amount of ink needed and producing the image or text onto the paper. 

The whole cartridge goes in two directions, left and right. Once the paper is in the correct position, the text or image in your document will then be printed in the same place. The tiny holes help your printed output to be precise and clean. High-end printers mean high-quality photos. As said, the document’s original language is converted into a format that the printer can read. Like all devices, the printer has its own motherboard, which makes computers and printers compatible with each other.

History Of Printers

Printers go way back to the 1800s. It was one of the first inventions created relating to technology. Unlike most computer components today, printers introduced decades ago are still as famous as they are today. Here are some of the significant events in the history of printers.

1837The first mechanical printer was introduced by Charles Babbage
1868The first typewriter was introduced by Christopher Sholes
1953Remington RandReleased the first high-speed printer
1957IBMLaunched the dot matrix printer
1968EpsonIntroduced the first electronic mini-printer printer
1970CentronicsIntroduced the first dot matrix impact printer
1971XeroxLaunched the first laser printer
1972The first thermal printers was introduced
1976HPDeveloped the first inkjet printer
1976IBMLaunched the first high-speed laser printer
1977SiemensIntroduced the first drop-on-demand inkjet printer
1979CanonLaunched the first semiconductor laser beam printer
1984HPLaunched their first laser printer and thermal inkjet printer
1988HPLaunched the first mass-marketed inkjet printer
1988Scott Crump introduced 3D printers
1992Stratasys, Inc.Launched the first 3D printer
2009RepRap community used Scott Crump’s idea to develop new 3D printers

Types Of Printers

There are a lot of types of printers today. Since it is one of the most extensive devices today, printers have gotten more and more technical. Let’s see what’s the difference.

Inkjet PrinterUses a print head (usually cartridges) that has holes for inks to be placed precisely.
Laser PrinterUses lasers, electrostatic, and toner (dry ink powder).
Solid Ink PrinterUses a wax-resin with pigmented color that gets melted prior to printing, which is mostly used for huge pictures.
LED PrinterSimilar to laser printers, it uses LEDs which are used to attract toners. 
Ink Tank PrintersAlso called continuous printers, uses a print head that is connected to the ink tank.
Dot Matrix PrintersUses dot printing for low cost and heavy use, usually in printing receipts for businesses.
3D PrintersPrints out objects layer by layer, working their way from bottom to top.

All Printer Manufacturers

Printers also have different manufacturers in the market, and you’ve probably heard most of them in malls or shops. These different brands have been fighting for their number one spot. 

HPThe most popular printer brand in the world.
CanonHas the most high-quality printing printers.
EpsonHas the most easy-to-use and maintain printers.
BrotherHas one of the cheapest and most reliable printers.
LexmarkThe most popular brand for laser printing.
KyoceraThe most popular brand for heavy printing.

Components And Parts Of A Printer

Printers are one of the best-engineered devices of all time. Creating and giving us the physical document we asked for. Above all that, the minds and effort to make such a device. Let’s see what a printer consists of.

Paper Support

Once you open the printer, the first thing you do is set up the paper support. The paper support is where the paper leans. The paper must be supported in an upright position to produce a precise result. Also, the printer should print multiple pages when positioned upward to prevent receiving multiple sheets at a time.

Sheet Feeder

Sheet, feeder. That’s basically it. It’s the part of a printer where you feed your papers, and this component is responsible for providing the printer one paper at a time. It has a mechanism to grab a single sheet when you’ve placed multiple sheets in the feeder while preventing multiple sheet grabs.

Output Tray

Before the actual printout, an output tray must be opened. After the printout, the paper must be placed flat for it to dry and prevent it from falling on the floor, avoiding wrinkling. For multiple pages, it also helps you to leave the printing process unattended while your document doesn’t need to be arranged since it already prints according to order.

Print Heads

Print heads are usually found on your cartridges. If you have a printer that needs a cartridge for inks, the print heads are covered with plastics; this ensures that your cartridge is new. Some printers have a refillable ink tank called continuous ink printers. These printers use a built-in print head and have a hose that connects the ink tank and the head, which is cheaper.

Ink Supply System

The ink supply system is usually for continuous ink printers. This type of printer has tanks connected to the refillable print heads, and the inks consist of four colors—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These four colors can make up all shades in the color wheel. Also, cartridges are bought in those four colors. As said, continuous ink is cheaper, and cartridges are more expensive since it has their own print heads.

Stepper Motor

The print head is moved back and forth by a stepper motor as it goes over the page. Another stepper motor parks the print head when the printer is not in use to prevent drying. The stepper motor helps the printer print in a line, moving left to the right, creating the same image as the document.


The belt helps the stepper motor for the print head to roll and do its job. Like riding a bike, the chain allows the bike to roll by pedaling. And in a printer, the belt helps the print head to move.

Stabilizer Bar

The stabilizer bar is the most critical component of a printer. Nobody wants an unaligned printout; the stabilizer bar helps the printer to perform its duty while also doing it precisely. It helps stabilize the whole mechanism of the previous three components mentioned above.

Control Buttons

Control buttons mainly consist of turn off/on, photocopy black, and photocopy colored. Some printers are equipped with both a printer and a scanner, hence the ability to photocopy. This is also one of the most bought printers since many people also need scanning and printing. A scanner and printer combination devices are also one of the most famous devices today.

How Much Does A Printer Cost?

The cheapest printers can go from $20. And the most expensive ones can be $8000. Although, there are various types of printers, hence costly ones. Printers are not just household items. Of course, it is needed in corporates, companies, and every establishment you can think of. 

If you are a printing service provider or have ever been in one, you might have seen those vast printers that lay flat on the floor and are a meter (or more) high. These printers are the reasons for the pricey ones. These can give you high-quality prints while also being fast. Corporate companies also need more significant printers to serve them better since it involves lots and lots of printing (and photocopying).

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

This has probably been the best document I’ve written as a printer enthusiast. If I were rich enough, I would’ve bought printers for everyone. Printing is much easier for everything as an adult. Keeping receipts, school papers, official documents, and so much more is what I love about printers. I get to have it physically instead of going through all my digital files. 

And I guess that’s a wrap for everything about printers. Glad I could help you in learning about it and helping you choose the right one for you.

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Anna Bonilla
Anna Bonilla

Anna isn't just any ordinary Computer Hardware Expert, she's highly skilled and multi-talented. She's a graphic designer, a writer, and a social media expert. At ErrorBook, she helps her readers in understanding the purpose of different hardware components and also helps pick the best PC Parts for their money. She also loves babysitting her nephews, baking, and crafting coffee.

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