What is a dot matrix printer?

The dot matrix printer is an early type of printer which is very similar to a typewriter. It uses the impact method of ink to page delivery which is slow and noisy when compared with today’s much quieter laser or inkjet printers.

The typewriter and the dot matrix printer have a ribbon stretched across the width of the page which holds the ink. This ribbon is then pressed against the page to produce the text. The typewriter presses letter shaped impressions and with slightly more versatility the dot matrix printer presses small pins against the ribbon and onto the page. Combinations of these pins make up the text on the paper.

What is a dot matrix printer

How does the dot matrix printer work?

A dot matrix printer has an electronic print head (a carriage) which holds the pins and whizzes back and forth hammering the pins against the ribbon and striking small dots of ink on to the paper. Combinations of these small dots make up the letters or simple graphics.

The more pins the dot matrix printer has the higher the resolution and faster the speed of the dot matrix printer will be. Common numbers of pins are between 9 and 24.

The term dot matrix means ‘A grid of dots which are filled selectively to produce an image on a screen or paper.’

Dot matrix printers – The good points.

  • Easy Maintenance – With the exception of tightening the ribbon or re-aligning the print head there is very little go wrong.
  • Dot matrix printers go on forever, producing page after page.
  • They are suitable for hot and dirty environments.
  • Cheap to run.
  • Carbon copy printing.

Dot matrix printers – The bad points.

  • Dot matrix printers are very noisy.
  • They are only capable of low-quality text or simple graphics even with enhancing software.
  • Dot matrix printers are slow.
  • They can be messy to use as the ink dries slowly.

Where might you see a dot matrix printer today?

As the dot matrix printer will work continuously under most conditions including hot and cold temperatures and dirty and dusty environments. This makes dot matrix printers an ideal solution where print quality is not as important as reliability. For this reason garages, supermarkets, factories and workshops will often still use them. They are also good where printing has to be on continuous paper or banner type printing is required.

Should you buy a dot matrix printer?

Unless you happen to need to use your printer for simple tasks in a dirty and hot environment or cannot live without the loud but nostalgic sound of a print head pin striking a ribbon. We would suggest an inkjet printer or a laser printer would make a better choice. If you would like to know more about printers click here

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