How Does A Laser Printer Work?

Ever found yourself wondering how a laser printer works? How does a laser printer user a laser to write on paper when you have to add toner (ink)? What’s the laser for if an inkjet uses ink to colour the page, does a laser printer colour the page with a laser?

Hopefully explaining how a laser printer works will answer these questions…

Put simply, laser printers work by electrically charging paper which makes the toner (which is a coloured powder, used as ink in laser printers) stick to the page. The paper is then heated at about 180-220 degrees Celsius to melt the toner onto the page so it can’t be rubbed off.

This is the basic concept, however if you are in the IT industry, it helps to know a little more about laser printers in order to diagnose them. Without going into the physics or very fine details, here’s how a laser printer works for the slightly more technical:

  1. A print request arrives at the printer and is formatted into machine code by the main board on the printer so that the laser printer can tell it’s parts where to put the toner (ink)
  2. A laser in the printer then charges a drum (which is a basically a plastic cylinder) which rotates and picks up the toner where the drum is charged
  3. Incidentally the toner is delivered to the drum by another rotating drum covered in a black magnetic substance called developer (if your printer is covered in black powder, it could be that the drum that holds the developer has lost it’s magnetism)
  4. Before the paper goes through the drum it is electrically charged by a Charging Wire
  5. So far, the drum has been charged with the laser in places where the toner should be picked up, the paper has been charged by a charging wire where the toner needs to go on the page and the drum picks up the toner, which is then taken from the drum by the page
  6. The next stage is for the paper to go through the fuser. Laser printers work with fusers which is basically another cylinder, except this cylindar is heated to about 180-220 degrees Celsius. The job of the fuser is to melt the toner onto the paper so it can’t be rubbed off. If you are able to print, but the toner can be rubbed off, chances are that your fuser is broken

That’s it! So know you know how laser printers work 🙂 Hopefully this was interesting and helpful to anyone troubleshooting a laser printer that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to 😀

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