Printers are a critical part of any business, whether large or small, but they sometimes get overshadowed by the larger technical issues of hardware repair, troubleshooting operating systems, networking, and other issues. However, whether you’re printing a schedule, a report, or a presentation handout, it’s vital that printers function properly, no matter what business you are in. Understanding printers and how to work with them is a crucial part of being an IT support technician, not to mention the fact that you must know these things for the CompTIA A+ certification exams.
Printers come in all shapes, sizes, types, and brands. They also vary widely on features, capabilities, and maintenance needs. For this reason, it is important to know the most important concepts and principles related to printers, including types of printers, how to install print drivers, the types of consumables used, and how to set up and install printers. The most common commercial printer is the laser printer, which can be found in a variety of printer models and sizes. Laser printers and inkjet printers are both commonly used in homes or small business environments.
Laser printing is a complex process, but few other printing options can match the speed and quality of a laser printer. Because of their complexity, laser printers are more expensive. For this reason, they are most often used by businesses that do a lot of printing. In spite of the higher initial investment and the cost of ongoing maintenance, laser printing is more economical for volume printing due to the lower cost of consumables per printed page. Laser printers produce good quality prints and can crank out a lot of pages in a short amount of time. You will need an understanding of the laser printing process to be able to troubleshoot printer problems. The basic theory of laser printer operation consists of a laser creating an image on an electrically charged drum. The toner is attracted to the image on the drum and then transferred to paper. To make it a permanent part of the paper it is passed through the fuser assembly.
Inkjet printers are popular in the home consumer market because of their ability to produce color printouts without needing to invest in an expensive color laser printer. However, the cost per page is relatively high due to the cost of replacement ink cartridges. Inkjet printers have a print head that squirts colored dots of ink onto the paper. The print head and ink cartridges are mounted on a carriage assembly that is moved back and forth across the paper by an attached positioning belt. The print head has nozzles that eject the ink using thermal heating or piezoelectric material.
By becoming familiar with the different types of printers and how they work, you will be better able to troubleshoot the various issues that may arise related to printing. While larger issues often require the help of a printer specialist, there are many basic issues that you can fix that will save time and money if handled by a computer support technician. This additional knowledge and skill can be very valuable for your role in IT support.