Inkjet printers are the most commonly used form of computer printer and are widely utilised in both domestic and commercial settings. Inkjets have effectively replaced earlier incarnations of computer printer, such as the dot-matrix and daisy-wheel printer, and these days they provide a credible alternative to the laser printer, in terms of quality, but almost always at a lower cost.
The concept of spraying jets of ink onto paper to form an image goes back more than 100 years. However, the modern inkjet printer was first developed in 1976 and became widely available for the home computer enthusiast by the late 1980s with Hewlett Packard’s Deskjet series of printers, followed by those developed by a number of other companies.
Up until the last ten years or so inkjet printers were generally surpassed in quality by laser printers. However, changes in inkjet technology in the last few years have led to a rise in the quality of these printers so that they now satisfy even the most discerning of business and home users. The ongoing challenge for inkjet developers was to create a printer where the flow of ink could be controlled, but without the print head becoming clogged with dried ink.
The big four companies producing most of these printers used in the home and in business today are Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Canon and Epson. These, and a host of other companies, also produce the range of consumables used in inkjet printers, most notably inkjet cartridges.