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Printing Techniques You Didn’t Know Are Old

People have it easy now when it comes to printing. Easier tasks like printing documents on bond paper can be done at home or in the office. Larger formats like posters and banners are often offered as a service. You can visit websites such as to know what specific services a company can offer. Advanced machines such as the Speedmaster XL 75 can churn out 15,000 sheets per hour and at high quality. Large-format printing has never been this efficient.

At home and offices, inkjet and laser printers are ubiquitous. But did you know that these printing technologies have been around for a long time? Let’s take a look at these two most-used types of printers and find out how they began.


Inkjet printers feature a head that has a nozzle, which ejects the ink droplets onto the paper. This is well known to feature easily replaceable ink cartridges. Just a few decades ago, families at home enjoyed printing documents and simple graphics. As digital photography improved, so did the inkjets.

By the time digital cameras got to millions of people’s hands, the print quality got so good that it was comparable to photos processed in dark rooms. For those who don’t like using cartridges, there are models now that have a continuous ink system. This replaces the cartridges with small ink tanks that the user can refill.

How old is the inkjet technology?

William Thomson or Lord Kelvin was the inventor of the siphon recorder. It is an obsolete machine that accepts telegraphs and writes them on rolling paper. The writing device features a working principle similar to the inkjet. It has an ink tank, and the siphon part is made of glass that sucks out the ink on one end and drops it on the other, straight onto paper. The siphon glass tube is basically the nozzle counterpart. To answer the question: The siphon recorder, featuring the first inkjet system, was invented in the 1860s.



A laser printer’s mechanism involves rolling drums and a laser. The toner serves as the ink, which comes in powder form. The laser fires the image pattern at the drum, to which it becomes electrically charged with the negative image. Next, the drum is rolled in the toner. The powder sticks to the drum with a positive image. This is then rolled on to the paper, to which the image is now transferred. The paper then moves to another roller that heats it so that the powder stays in place. The charged drum will then have its image erased so that it will be ready for printing again.

How old is the laser printer technology?

The German scientist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg is considered to be the man responsible for inventing the principles of xerography. He created using an electrophorus. This generated static electricity, to which he discharged onto an insulator, creating patterns out of dust. He pressed a piece of paper onto it to capture the pattern. Lichtenberg invented xerography in 1777.

The next time you print something, remember that you are using what has undergone a lot of refinement over many decades. It looks like inkjets and laser printers will continue serving us with our printing needs for a long time.

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