14 Difference Between Impact And Non-Impact Printers With Examples

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Printers are classified into two types according to whether or not the image printed is formed by striking an ink ribbon against the paper. In this regard, printers are either classified as either:

  • Impact-printers
  • Non-impact Printers

What Is Impact Printer?

An Impact printer is a type of printer that operates by striking a metal or plastic head against an ink ribbon. The ink ribbon is pressed against the paper, marking the page with the appropriate character, dot, line or symbol.

Common examples of impact printers include:

  • Ball printers: Ball printers use a spherical ball with raised characters on the outside. The ball spins to each character before printing it on page.
  • Dot matrix: Dot matrix printers work by striking a grid of pins against a ribbon. Different characters are printed by using different pin combinations.
  • Daisy wheel printers: Daisy wheel printer, in order to print each character, the wheel spins to the appropriate petal and a hammer strikes the petal against the ribbon and the page.
  • Line printers: Line printers use pins to strike against the inked ribbon, making dots on the paper and forming the desired characters.
  • Drum printers:  In a drum printer, the paper is taped onto a drum for precise alignment to the nozzles; therefore, when the desired character for the selected position is rotated around to the hammer line, the hammer hit the paper from behind and pushes the paper into the type slug when it is rotated around to proper position.
  • Chain printers:  This printers use type slugs linked together in a chain as its printing mechanism. The chain spins horizontally around a set of hammers. When the desired character is in front of the selected print column, the corresponding hammer hits the paper into the ribbon and onto the character in the chain.
Dot Matrix Printer, An Example Of Impact Printers

What You Need To Know About Impact Printers

  1. Impact printers form images and characters by striking a mechanism such as a print hammer or wheel against an inked ribbon, leaving an image on paper.
  2. Printing in impact printers is done by hammering a metal pin or character dye.
  3. Impact printers are low speed printers. They consume a lot of time to print a document.
  4. Impact printers have high level of noise because they have many moving parts and also the print head strikes on ribbon and paper.
  5. Impact printers use pins, hammers or wheel to strike against an inked ribbon to print on a paper.
  6. Print quality of impact printers is lower than those of non-impact printers.
  7. Impact printers use special inked ribbons to produce print on paper when print head strikes.
  8. Impact printers use old printing technologies.
  9. Impact printers are often less expensive.
  10. Usually, impact printers use continuous paper sheet.
  11. With exception of dot matrix printer, impact printers cannot print graphics images.
  12. With exception of dot matrix, the character style cannot be changed in the impact printers.

What Are Non-Impact Printers?

Non-impact printers are printers that form characters and images without direct physical contact between the printing mechanism and the paper. Non-impact printers use a cartridge filled with toner or liquid ink, which allows them to produce fine-quality images quickly and quietly.

Examples of non-impact printers include:

  • Laser printers: laser printers have a cylindrical drum that rolls electrically charged ink onto the paper.
  • Inkjet printers: Inkjet printers form images with tiny dots, they spray tiny drops of ink onto the page from the four nozzles through holes in a matrix at high speed onto paper.
  • Thermal printers: with thermal printers, output characters are formed by a special heating element placed with special heat-sensitive waxy paper, forming darkened dots when element reaches a critical temperature.
Inkjet Printer, An Example of Non-impact Printers

What You Need To Know About Non-Impact Printers

  1. Non-impact printers form characters and images without direct physical contact between the printing mechanism and the paper.
  2. Printing in non-impact printers is done by depositing ink on paper in any form.
  3. Non-impact printers are very fast, they can print many pages per minute.
  4. Non-impact printers do not have high level of noise because they do not use string mechanism in which print head strikes on ribbon and paper. The process of laying ink or toner onto paper is virtually silent.
  5. Non-impact printers uses laser, spray of special ink or heat and pressure to print on paper.
  6. Print quality of non-impact printers is higher than those of impact printers.
  7. Non-impact printers use toner or cartridge for printing on paper.
  8. Non-impact printers use latest printing technologies.
  9. Non-impact printers are often very expensive when compared to impact printers.
  10. Non-impact printers often use individual paper sheets.
  11. Printing of graphical images in non-impact printers is very much possible.
  12. It can print different types of characters form busing the individual printer.

Also Read: Difference Between Plotter And Printer

Difference Between Impact And Non-Impact Printers

BASIS OF COMPARISON IMPACT PRINTERS NON-IMPACT PRINTERS
Description Impact printers form images and characters by striking a mechanism such as a print hammer or wheel against an inked ribbon, leaving an image on paper.   Non-impact printers form characters and images without direct physical contact between the printing mechanism and the paper.  
Printing Mechanism Printing in impact printers is done by hammering a metal pin or character dye.   Printing in non-impact printers is done by depositing ink on paper in any form.  
Speed They are low speed printers. They consume a lot of time to print a document.   They are very fast, they can print many pages per minute.  
Noise Level They have high level of noise because they have many moving parts and also the print head strikes on ribbon and paper.   They do not have high level of noise. The process of laying ink or toner onto paper is virtually silent.  
Printing Process They use pins, hammers or wheel to strike against an inked ribbon to print on a paper.   They use laser, spray of special ink or heat and pressure to print on paper.  
Print Quality Print quality of impact printers is lower than those of non-impact printers.   Print quality of non-impact printers is higher than those of impact printers.  
Printing Ink They use special inked ribbons to produce print on paper when print head strikes.   They use toner or cartridge for printing on paper.  
Technology They use old printing technologies.   They use latest printing technologies.  
Cost They are often less expensive.   They are often very expensive when compared to impact printers.  
Nature Of Paper Sheet  Used They use continuous paper sheet.   They often use individual paper sheets.  
Graphic Images With exception of dot matrix printer, impact printers cannot print graphics images.   Printing of graphical images in non-impact printers is very much possible.  
Character Style With exception of dot matrix, the character style cannot be changed in the impact printers.   It can print different types of characters form busing the individual printer.