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Digital Printing Technologies And Business Cards

May 25, 2008
Printing has become an incredibly important part of modern life. Any tangible thing one reads was printed at one point. Before printing was developed, all publications were handwritten, meaning they were expensive and limited. Woodblock printing was invented around the third century, but it was inefficient and relatively weak. The printing process became more streamlined when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the fifteenth century.

In modern times, technology has advanced to the point where a variety of digital printing technologies are available. Large publishers and printers mainly use a non-digital technique called offset printing, which is effective for mass printing. For home use, consumers can utilize several digital options which are faster and produce higher quality prints.

Line printing is a method in which type is printed one line at a time. While line printing is considered somewhat outdated, it is still in use today. Line printers are incredibly fast, and can print type at an average rate of fifteen pages per minute. Four types of this technology exist: drum, chain, bar, and comb printers, which each have their own unique designs.

Daisy wheel printers function almost like typewriters. The chief component of the system is a small wheel which has every letter and a multitude of other characters engraved on it. During a printing session, the wheel is turned to line up the appropriate character, and a pawl pushes the wheel into the paper, copying a letter on to it. The result is an exceptionally high quality print. On the negative side, daisy wheel printers are expensive and cannot print graphics or different fonts (unless you change the wheel), making this technology all but obsolete.

The dot matrix system, also known as an impact matrix printer, works by running an ink-soaked ribbon back and forth across paper, continuously impacting down to create an image. Color can be achieved by using multicolored ribbons. Nearly all advanced printers use dot matrices, but are different than classical dot matrix systems because they do not use impact to make images.

Thermal printers operate by selectively heating paper to make images appear. While these printers are fast and quiet, they require special paper, called thermal paper, which is expensive. Also, color is limited to usually only two colors, and thus thermal printers are used mostly to print informational packets.

Inkjet printers are the most widely used type of printer by consumers. They are relatively cheap, easy to use, and have great functionality. Inkjets have the capability to produce high quality color prints as well as black and white ones. Additionally, they can print onto a variety of mediums by propelling different sized droplets of ink. A common application of inkjet printers is the development of business cards. However, when printing large quantities of cards, each subsequent line can be offset slightly, although by only as much as one millimeter.

Laser printers produce letter-quality text and graphics on plain paper. Images are created by a laser scanning across the printer's main photoreceptor. The whole process is comprised of seven steps, all of which are vastly complex. Due to the advanced nature of laser printers, they can perform several tasks that other printers cannot. For one, they are able to produce any quantity of business cards without the offsetting difficulties.
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