How Does a Laser Printer Work

When we first heard of laser printers, we imagined there must be something akin to a laser pen inside the printer burning images onto paper.

It turns out that’s not exactly what happens.

Invented in the 1970s, the laser printer is extremely popular in workplaces with a high workload because of the speed they print and the number of pages they can print without a toner cartridge change.

There are two types of printers that most of us know about – the inkjet printer and the LaserJet we are talking about.

The LaserJet variety of printers is a lot more complicated in its printing process than an inkjet.

In this article, we will attempt to simplify the process for you to help you understand how a laser printer works.

Key Components of a Laser Printer

1. Toner Cartridge

This is the crucial component getting text/images onto your page as it contains the toner (a fine powder). This toner is given a positive charge and then melted on the paper.

The toner cartridge will eventually empty and require replacement.

2.  Drum Unit

Depending on your printer, this can be a unique printer part or something that has been built into the toner cartridge.

The drum unit is a metal cylinder with a green-colored special coating. This unit takes a positive static and negative electric charge from the printer’s laser.

3. Laser

This component combines with drum and toner to produce your print. The laser transmits light across several mirrors. These mirrors reflect the laser onto the drum unit, imprinting what is to be printed on the paper.

4. Transfer Belt

The transfer belt takes your paper and moves it through the printer. It will pass the paper across the drum, and during that pass, the toner will be transferred.

Some printers will have rollers instead of a transfer belt. These rollers perform the same function.

5. Fuser Unit

If you’ve ever had a laser printer, you will know that they get hot. The heat comes from the fuser unit.

This unit is a roller that heats up to melt toner particles onto the page. The process seals the toner to your page so that it stays without smudging as it exits the printer.

Guide to the Laser Printing Process

1. Press print from your computer, or other connected devices, to send informationto the printer.

2. The printer’s corona wire will heat up so that it can pass static charge to the printer drum.

3. The drum will begin to roll and receive a positive charge across the surface. If you have a color laser printer, there will be more than one drum.

4. The laser will beam and be reflected by a series of mirrors. These mirrors reflect the laser across the surface of the printer drum. This, in turn, imprints whatever you are printing onto the drum by using a negative charge.

5. Positively charged toner particles are released onto the drum as it tunes. This toner is attracted to the places on the drum where the laser has been reflected as those places are negatively charged.

6. Paper is transferred through the printer via the transfer belt. The toner is attracted to the page and takes the shape of whatever it is you are printing.

7. The fuser unit melts the toner onto the page, ensuring that the paper coming out of the printer has your desired print firmly fixed onto it.

What are the Advantages of a Laser Printer?

Laser printers are often more expensive than inkjet printers, but their running costs can be much less in the long term. This is because the toner used for laser printers is reasonably cheap and longer-lasting than the cartridges required for an inkjet printer.

Speed is a big plus point of laser printers. The most basic laser printers can print at speeds far superior to some higher-end inkjet models. This is why offices tend to use a LaserJet, as it improves the overall workflow as people are not waiting around for printouts.

These printers are also much more suited to printing in bulk and working for hours at a time. You’ll be able to get through substantial document loads per month thanks to the high duty cycle of these robust printers.

A laser printer is able to offer much more precision than an inkjet due to the unvarying diameter. This is very useful for architects and other professionals who require great accuracy in their work.

Is Toner safe?

Toner is non-toxic, and there is a minimal risk when using it.

Equally, there is minimal risk of breathing in a small amount of toner.

However, it is recommended that you wear a mask if doing maintenance to your laser printer to avoid any issues from breathing in excessive amounts of toner particles.

Remember also that toner particles can linger in the air for up to 15 minutes. So do not remove your mask in this period.

Do Laser Printer’s Need Cleaning?

General maintenance for all printers is necessary if you want to keep them in perfect working order for as long as possible.

Laser printers pick up dust and debris as you use them. Understanding that this could lead to problems and cleaning regularly is far better than being reactive when a problem occurs.

It is recommended that you give your laser printer a clean after every 300 hours of use. You may wish to get a professional to do it, especially if opening up your printer will void any warranty you have.

Final Word

Hopefully, we’ve given you a simple enough overview of how laser printers work that you’ll be able to go away and explain it to others if they ever ask.

If you are reading this article thinking of purchasing a laser printer, then we highly recommend it. These are workhorse printers that provide excellent service and outstanding printing quality.

Remember, laser printers are tricky bits of equipment, so even though you know how they work, we don’t recommend that you start taking them apart unless you are 100% confident about what you are doing.

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