If you work in an office you would have made and/ or received thousands of photocopied pieces of paper each year. It is just a normal part of everyday life, but have you ever stopped to think what a laser printer (or photocopier) does and how it works? Probably not, but there are a lot of very interesting things about it and the process it goes through so you get to have that warm piece of paper between your hands.
The first quirk about a laser printer is the laser toner that it uses. Firstly it is not an ink that is used in the laser printer, it is an electrically charged powder made out of pigment and plastic. This mixture results in high quality prints because the plastic melts to the paper as it gets heated up, thus sealing the “ink” to the paper permanently. This is crucial for when you need to print hundreds of documents at once and you do not want them to smudge or smear.
So here is a look at how a laser printer works, and after this you will never look at your photocopier machine the same again.
How A Laser Printer Works
Simply put a laser printer works with static electricity. Now this raises a lot of questions about how the same energy that creates lightning bolts and makes your clothes stick together in a dryer can make words and images stick to a piece of paper. Well, oppositely charged atoms attract to each other and thus objects with opposite static electric fields will cling together, and a laser printer uses this principle to create a sort of glue to make the ink stick to the paper. The object in the laser printer that causes this reaction is called the photoreceptor.
This photoreceptor is given a positive charge by the charge corona wire. And as this photoreceptor drum revolves a tiny laser beam shines across it to discharge certain points of it. And in this way the laser draws certain forms and shapes to it, like letters and graphics which will then appear on the paper. After the correct pattern has been set by the laser beam, the printer coats the drum with positively charged toner, the fine black powder consisting of plastic and pigments. And thus it clings to the paper which is then rolled out.
And all of this happens within a matter of seconds. So next time you are standing next to the photocopier waiting for your hundreds of documents to print out, just take some time to think about what the poor machine has to go through in order to print out all the jokes you just heard. And the next time the photocopier breaks take some time to think about all the technology that is involved in it, and maybe next time there is a paper jam just so some compassion for your photocopier.