How Does an Inkjet Printer Transfer Ink to Paper?
Inkjet printers work by applying tiny droplets of ink to paper. This is usually done using one of two technologies. Thermal inkjet printers use heat to create bubbles of ink that “pop” out of the nozzle onto the paper. Piezoelectric inkjet printers use small electric charges to make a crystal vibrate, pushing ink out of the nozzle onto the paper.
These droplets of ink usually about 50-60 microns in diameter, which is smaller than the diameter of a strand of human hair, are also positioned with extreme precision with resolutions of over a million dots per square inch.
To make different colors, different amounts and proportions of each of the inks available are placed as dots on the paper. Sophisticated computer chips inside the inkjet printer convert the electronic image data into precise instructions that are sent to the print head, which in turn communicates with the ink cartridges to tell them exactly how and when to produce their tiny droplets of ink.
For an image, each ink will have a value ranging from 0 to 100, where 0 means none of the ink is used and 100 means the image is completely saturated with the ink color. By tweaking the values of each ink, a printer is able to produce countless colors.
Inkjet printers work via subtractive color mixing. As different colors of ink are combined, each ink absorbs (subtracts) its characteristic colors and amounts of light. The light that is then reflected back to our eyes is what we see as different colors.
For example, to produce the color white, no ink dots are needed, since the white paper being printed upon will simply show through. To make black, however, large dots of all the inks would be used. To make red, magenta and yellow inks are used, since magenta absorbs green light and yellow absorbs blue light, resulting in only red light being reflected back to our eyes.