An Inkjet printer uses one of the most
popular printing technologies today. The relatively low cost and
multi-purpose printing abilities make inkjet printers a good choice for
small businesses and home offices.
Inkjet printers use quick-drying, water-based inks and a printhead
with a series of small nozzles that spray ink onto the surface of the
paper. The printhead assembly is driven by a belt-fed motor that moves
the printhead across the paper.
Inkjets were originally manufactured to print in
monochrome (black and white) only. However, the
printhead has since been expanded and the nozzles increased to
accommodate cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. This combination of colors
(called CMYK) allows the printing of images with
nearly the same quality as a photo development lab (when using certain
types of coated paper.) When coupled with crisp and highly readable text
print quality, inkjet printers are a sound all-in-one choice for
monochrome or color printing needs.
Inkjet printers tend to be low cost and scale slightly upward
based on print quality, extra features, and the ability to print on
larger formats than the standard legal or letter paper sizes. While
the one-time cost of purchasing an inkjet printer is lower than other
printer types, there is the factor of inkjet consumables that must be
considered. Because demand for inkjets is large and spans the
computing spectrum from home to enterprise, the procurement of
consumables can be costly.
When shopping for an inkjet printer, always make sure you know
what kind of ink cartridge(s) it requires. This is especially
critical for color units. CMYK inkjet printers require ink for each
color; however, the important point is whether each color is stored in
a separate cartridge or not.
Some printers use one multi-chambered cartridge; unless some
sort of refilling process is possible, as soon as one color ink runs
out, the entire cartridge must be replaced. Other printers use a
multi-chambered cartridge for cyan, magenta, and yellow, but also
have a separate cartridge for black. In environments where a great
deal of text is printed, this type of arrangement can be beneficial.
However, the best solution is to find a printer with separate
cartridges for each color; you can then easily replace any color
whenever it runs out.
Some inkjet manufacturers also require you to use specially
treated paper for printing high-quality images and documents. Such
paper uses a moderate to high gloss coating formulated to absorb
colored inks, which prevents clumping (the
tendency for water-based inks to collect in certain areas where colors
blend, causing muddiness or dried ink blots) or
banding (where the print output has a striped
pattern of extraneous lines on the printed page.) Consult your
printer's documentation for recommended papers.