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A printer prints the output information from the computer onto a paper. Printers are generally used to print textual information, but nowadays printers also print graphical information. The print quality (sharpness and clarity of print) of the printer is determined by the resolution of the printer. Resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). Printers with a high resolution (more dpi) provide better quality output. Different kinds of printers are available for different types of applications. Printers are classified into two categories—impact printer and non-impact printer.

Impact printers

Impact printers use the typewriter approach of physically striking a typeface against the paper and inked ribbon. Impact printers can print a character or an entire line at a time. Impact printers are low-cost printers useful for bulk printing. Dot matrix printers, daisy wheel printers and drum printers are examples of impact printers.

• Dot Matrix Printers
Dot Matrix Printers print one character at a time. The speed of dot matrix printer lies between 200 and 600 characters per second (cps) and their resolution ranges from 72 to 360 dpi. Dot matrix printers normally come in two sizes—80 column printer and 132 column printer. Dot matrix printers can print alphanumeric characters, special characters, charts and graphs. They can print only in black and white. Some dot matrix printers can print in both directions - left to right and right to left. Dot matrix printers are commonly used for printing in applications like payroll and accounting.

• Daisy Wheel Printers
Daisy Wheel Printers print one character at a time. They produce letter quality document which is better than a document printed by a dot matrix printer. The speed of daisy wheel printers is about 100 cps. The print head of the printer is like a daisy flower, hence the name. These printers are slow, can only print text (not graphics), and are costly in comparison to dot matrix printers. Daisy wheel printers are used where high quality printing is needed and no graphics is needed.

• Drum Printers
Drum Printers are line printers. They are expensive and faster than character printers but produce a low quality output. They can print 200–2500 lines per minute. Drum printers are generally used for voluminous print outputs.


Printers do not hit or impact a ribbon to print. They use electro-static chemicals and ink-jet technologies. Non-impact printers are faster and quieter than impact printers. They produce high quality output and can be used for printing text and graphics both in black and white, and color. Ink-jet printers and laser printers are non-impact printers.

• Ink-jet Printers
Ink-jet Printers spray ink drops directly on the paper like a jet. Their resolution is more than 500 dpi. They produce high quality graphics and text. Ink-jet printers are commonly found in homes and offices.

• Laser Printers
Laser Printers provide highest quality of text and graphics printing. Laser printers process and store the entire page before printing and are also known as page printers. The laser printer can print 5–24 pages of text per minute and their resolution ranges from 400 to 1200 dpi. They are faster and expensive than impact printers. Laser printers are used in applications requiring high quality voluminous printing.

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