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Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negatively charged cylinder called a “drum” to define a differential charged image. The drum then selectively collects electrically charged powdered ink (toner), and transfers the image to paper, which is then heated in order to permanently fuse the text and/or imagery. As with digital photocopiers, laser printers employ a xerographic printing process. However, laser printing differs from analog photocopiers in that the image is produced by the direct scanning of the medium across the printer’s photoreceptor. This enables laser printing to copy images more quickly than most photocopiers.
Color laser printers use colored toner (dry ink), typically cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). While monochrome printers only use one laser scanner assembly, color printers often have two or more.
Color printing adds complexity to the printing process because very slight misalignment known as registration errors can occur between printing each color, causing unintended color fringing, blurring, or light/dark streaking along the edges of colored regions. To permit a high registration accuracy, some color laser printers use a large rotating belt called a “transfer belt”. The transfer belt passes in front of all the toner cartridges and each of the toner layers are precisely applied to the belt. The combined layers are then applied to the paper in a uniform single step.
Color printers usually have a higher cost per page than monochrome printers (even if printing monochrome-only pages).
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