7.3. Inkjet Printers

An Inkjet printer uses one of the most popular printing technologies today. The relatively low cost and multi-purpose printing abilities make inkjet printers a good choice for small businesses and home offices.

Inkjet printers use quick-drying, water-based inks and a printhead with a series of small nozzles that spray ink onto the surface of the paper. The printhead assembly is driven by a belt-fed motor that moves the printhead across the paper.

Inkjets were originally manufactured to print in monochrome (black and white) only. However, the printhead has since been expanded and the nozzles increased to accommodate cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. This combination of colors (called CMYK) allows the printing of images with nearly the same quality as a photo development lab (when using certain types of coated paper.) When coupled with crisp and highly readable text print quality, inkjet printers are a sound all-in-one choice for monochrome or color printing needs.

7.3.1. Inkjet Consumables

Inkjet printers tend to be low cost and scale slightly upward based on print quality, extra features, and the ability to print on larger formats than the standard legal or letter paper sizes. While the one-time cost of purchasing an inkjet printer is lower than other printer types, there is the factor of inkjet consumables that must be considered. Because demand for inkjets is large and spans the computing spectrum from home to enterprise, the procurement of consumables can be costly.


When shopping for an inkjet printer, always make sure you know what kind of ink cartridge(s) it requires. This is especially critical for color units. CMYK inkjet printers require ink for each color; however, the important point is whether each color is stored in a separate cartridge or not.

Some printers use one multi-chambered cartridge; unless some sort of refilling process is possible, as soon as one color ink runs out, the entire cartridge must be replaced. Other printers use a multi-chambered cartridge for cyan, magenta, and yellow, but also have a separate cartridge for black. In environments where a great deal of text is printed, this type of arrangement can be beneficial. However, the best solution is to find a printer with separate cartridges for each color; you can then easily replace any color whenever it runs out.

Some inkjet manufacturers also require you to use specially treated paper for printing high-quality images and documents. Such paper uses a moderate to high gloss coating formulated to absorb colored inks, which prevents clumping (the tendency for water-based inks to collect in certain areas where colors blend, causing muddiness or dried ink blots) or banding (where the print output has a striped pattern of extraneous lines on the printed page.) Consult your printer's documentation for recommended papers.