How does a laser printer work? What is the laser printing process? Are there really sharks shooting frickin’ laser beams out of their heads?
Uh, no. It’s not like that at all. Laser printers use an electrical charge to attract toner particles onto a roller. The roller transfers the toner image to a piece of paper and heat and pressure permanently fuse the image onto the page.
Animation of print process in laser jet
The laser printing process can be broken down into seven major steps:
Step 1: Sending
To begin the laser printing process, the document is sent from the respective computer to the laser printer and the sent document is processed by the laser printer.
Step 2: Cleaning
Cleaning is a physical and electrical process carried out in order to remove the previous print job and prepare the photosensitive drum for the new print job. Remnants of toner on the drum are scraped away by a rubber-cleaning blade into a debris cavity. Remnants of electrical charges on the drum from the previous print job are defused by electrostatic erase lamps. Lubrication is then applied to the heat roller in order to make sure an adequate amount of heat is evenly applied to transfer the incoming image.
Step 3: Conditioning
Conditioning involves applying a negative charge to the drum unit and the paper as it passes through the corona wire or transfer roller. The application of a negative charge to the paper allows an image to be electrostatically transferred to the page.
Step 4: Exposing
Laser time! The next step is exposing. In this step, the photosensitive drum is exposed to a laser beam, (possibly a laser beam refracted from a spinning mirror inside the printer). Every area of the drum exposed to the laser beam has its surface charge reduced to about 100 volts DC. An invisible latent image is generated as the drum turns.
Step 5: Developing
In the developing step, toner is applied to the latent image on the drum. The toner is comprised of negatively-charged powdered plastics — black, cyan, magenta, and yellow. The drum is held at a microscopic distance from the toner by a control blade.
Step 6: Transferring
The next step is transferring. The secondary corona, or transfer, applies a positive charge to the paper. The negatively-charged toner on the drum is magnetically attracted to the now positively-charged paper. The image is transferred to the paper and maintains its position due to its positive charge.
Step 7: Fusing
The final step is fusing. Heat and pressure are applied to the toner by the fusing rollers. The toner generates a permanent bond as it is pressed and melted into the paper. Teflon covers the fusing rollers as a light silicon oil is applied in order to remove any possibility of the paper sticking to them.
Catch A Toner Buzz
As you can see, laser printing is a highly complex process with a lot of moving parts. This is why there are so many risks involved with using compatible or remanufactured laser printing products, especially knock-off toners.
Brand name, genuine, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) laser toners carry far less risks than compatible and remanufactured laser toners. Plus non-OEM toners deliver inferior image quality and lower page yields than name brands. Stick with OEM ink and toner for your printer!