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Introduction to Printers

There are three basic types of printers commonly in use today:

Dot Matrix

Dot matrix

  • Image is made of dots that are visible
  • Slower than inkjets and laser
  • Only PC printer that can print multi-part "carbon" forms
  • Have an inked ribbon like a typewriter
  • Usually have a "tractor feed" with pins to pull heavy multi-part forms through the printer



  • The image is made by a "jet" of ionized ink sprayed onto the paper
  • Average "resolution" of about 300 dpi (dots per inch), so dots aren't visible
  • Usually the smallest of the three kinds
  • Usually the least expensive of the three kinds



  • Use the same technology as copiers
  • Faster than inkjets and dot matrix
  • Best quality of the three
  • Much higher resolution (up to 1200 dpi, or dots per inch - dots are invisible)
  • Most expensive

These printers use the same technology as copiers, so they're much faster than inkjets (and also more expensive). They are also typically much higher resolution than an inkjet (up to 1200 dpi, or dots per inch).


A consideration when purchasing a printer is not only its initial cost but also the cost of the colored inks, which can quickly exceed the cost of the printer. There are three different colored inks on color printers. Since they're so expensive, and since they aren't used at the same rate of speed, it's well worth paying more to get a printer with three separate color cartridges.

More information on printers:


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