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A Glossary of Printer Cartridge Terms and Definitions - Things Aren’t Always Black and White

Want to know about the printer cartridges and printer ink? Like many types of technology these days, print cartridges are often used but rarely understood. However, printers aren’t that hard to understand. The basic ideas are really pretty simple.

If you’re looking for information on print cartridges, take a moment to go through these terms and definitions first. That way, you can get a good idea of exactly what you should be looking for.

If you think you already know everything there is to know about the print cartridge, then this article will give you the perfect chance to brush up on your terms and definitions.

Assembly Drum

An Assembly Drum is the device in a laser printer that carries the static charge and holds the electrostatic image. This device is also used to deliver the charged toner to the paper prior to the application of heat to melt the toner into plastic ink.

CMYK

CMYK is the abbreviated term used to define the colors in a printer. The letters CMYK stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (K). CMYK works better for the paper medium than the traditional RGB scheme because true-to-life colors are extremely difficult to reproduce on paper and often come out looking “flat”.

Color Additive

Color Additive is a term used to describe the process of mixing colors by adding pigments until the desired color is achieved. It is commonly seen in formats such as televisions, where the manipulation of light can bring about true-to-life colors.

Color Subtractive

Color Subtractive is a term used to describe the process of mixing colors by subtracting pigments until the desired color is achieved. Color Subtractive mixing is most commonly seen in print media, where it is nearly impossible to achieve true-to-life colors and the addition of pigments can warp or muddy the page. By subtracting colors, the paper quality can be preserved.

Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ)

A Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) is a type of inkjet printing that is widely used in industrial applications but rarely used in commercial ones. A continuous stream of ink is manipulated by electrostatic fields into a stencil or pattern. This technology is most often used in applications such as printing labels on mass marketing envelopes, or printing "best before dates" onto perishables. It is an expensive and messy form of printing, and has never been used to any real extent in commercial applications or desktop publishing.

Developer

A Developer is a piece of Laserjet technology that collects the toner and applies it to the electrostatic image. It consists of a bar that contains tiny plastic beads. The beads contain a slight negative charge, allowing them to collect the positively charged toner.

Dot Matrix

Dot Matrix printing was common in the 1970's and 1980's before the widespread use of inkjet and laser printers. A dot matrix is simply an array of dots that make up an image or document. Dot matrix printers were loud and the resolution was extremely poor, but for many years they were the only printers available on the market.

Dots per Inch (DPI)

Dots per Inch (DPI) is the term used to describe the resolution of an image. It represents the actual color points, or “dots” within a square inch of space. The higher the dpi, and the smaller the dots are, the better the image looks. Dpi is similar to pixels on a monitor or television screen.

Drop on Demand (DOD)

Drop on Demand is a term used to describe the most common type of inkjet printers. Ink is heated and moved into the inkjet nozzles in precise measurements as it is needed, thus saving ink from being wasted. This is a more efficient way to apply ink than the continuous ink jet, which is most often used for industrial applications.

Electrostatic Image

An Electrostatic Image is created on an assembly drum during the dry writing reproduction process. An electrostatic image is an arrangement of negatively charged energy within the positively charged sheet created on an assembly drum. The negative energy is a perfect reproduction of the image to be copied by the dry writer or laser printer.

Electrography

Electrography, also known as Xerography, was the term used to describe the dry writing process developed by Charles Carlson and the Haloid Company, in 1939. The Haloid Company later refined the process and changed their name to Xerox. Electrography is a means of using static electricity to apply pigment to paper. It is the basic technology behind laser printers and photocopying machines.

Inkjet Nozzles

Inkjet Nozzles are tiny hoses that distribute ink in an inkjet printer. The nozzles are part of the priming area, where the ink is heated and measured depending on the desired color. The smaller the nozzles, the higher the DPI (Dots Per Inch) and ultimately a higher resolution.

Laser Printer

A Laser Printer is a device that allows the dry writing technique to be applied in a much more precise manner. The electrostatic image is created by high energy beams of light (lasers) being directed at the assembly drum, reversing the charge. The negative areas then attract toner, which carries a positive charge, before it is applied to paper. The paper is then subjected to high heat, allowing the loose toner to melt into the paper. Laser printers are known for their high speed and accuracy.

Resolution

The Resolution of an image is how clear it is to the eye. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. Resolution is measured in Dots Per Inch (DPI). The resolution for standard magazine quality images is about 300 dpi, while photo quality images can be as high as 1200 dpi. After 300 dpi, it becomes harder and harder for the average person to discern the exact quality of the image, as the resolution is so small that the image blends perfectly.

Toner

Toner is a substance used in place of liquid ink, inside a laser printer. Toner is a mixture of chemicals and plastics that melt into paper when exposed to high temperatures. Toner can be hazardous to the health if it is breathed in, and it can cause pollution in groundwater or soil when it is disposed of with regular garbage. Common sense and due caution should be used when handling toner.

Write Black

“Write Black” is a term used to describe the reproductive process of laser printers. An electrostatic image is created of the areas to be filled with toner, and the rest of the page is left blank. The toner fills the areas selected for filling by the laser, thus creating the desired image. Write black printing is much more precise than write white printing which occurs in photocopiers.

Write White

“Write White” is a term used to describe the reproductive process of traditional photocopiers. The assembly drum is used to recreate the white areas of the page, rather than the black areas of the page. In essence, it makes an image of everything around the image. The spaces between the areas charged are filled with toner, thus creating the desired image. This is backward to the laser printer, and is generally less precise.

Well there you have it! Hopefully this article has helped you get a better understanding of the world of print cartridges. There is a ton of information available on the Internet about the ins and outs of print cartridges, so if you’re looking for more information, why not try the folks at IBM, Hewlett Packard, Epson, or Canon?

They have many superb products available, and there’s lots of information about each of their particular brands on their websites.

Good hunting!

About The Author

Bill Schnarr is a successful freelance writer providing tips and advice for consumers purchasing printer cartridges, best cleaning supplies and Canon inkjet cartridges. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This "Glossary of Printer Cartridge Terms" is reprinted with permission.

© 2004 - Net Guides Publishing, Inc.

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