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Dot Matrix Printers

Dot Matrix
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Cut-Sheet & Roll
Use dot matrix printers to prepare multi-sheet forms in commercial and industrial venues. The machines have impact-printing heads that contain one or more rows of pins, or wires, that strike against ink ribbons to leave marks in the form of alphanumeric characters and coding symbols on forms and other media. They are forceful enough to leave impressions on multiple sheets of paper at once. Dot matrix printers are available at Staples® from several well-known manufacturers, including Epson®, OKI, and Lexmark™.

How Dot Matrix Printers Work
Dot-matrix printheads consist of electro-magnetic solenoids that “fire” spring-activated pins, also called wires depending on the manufacturer, into a cartridge ink ribbon, primarily black. The printhead configurations consist of 9, dual-9, or 24 pins arrayed in columns, with the pins “hammering” alternately through template slots to form individual characters as a gridded, raster image according to print commands. Many dot matrix printers use serial-print technology in which the printhead moves horizontally on a rail across the page to imprint forms and symbols. The printers are part of computer networks so they can handle remote print commands, and they offer USB interfaces for walk-up printing.

Types of Media and Output
Dot matrix printers are valuable pieces of equipment for creating commercial documents in settings that require durable form-printing equipment, including point-of-sales venues, warehousing, shipping, and clinics and health facilities. All these enterprises need multi-part invoices, purchase orders, shipping forms, event logs, or service and treatment statements for several users, including customers. The dot-matrix pins fire with enough force to print through cut-sheet forms of up to seven layers and continuous-form paper of up to five or six layers. The impact of the pins means they can print on thick media, such as adhesive-backed labels and barcode forms, adding to their commercial value.

How Fast Can Dot Matrix Printers Print?
On the whole, a 9-pin system prints more rapidly than a 24-pin configuration. Both styles of printers offer different printing speeds, depending on the density of characters and symbols desired, whether high-speed draft, normal draft, near-letter quality, or letter-quality modes. The typical high-speed draft range of printers is about 550 to 600 characters per second (cps), while some models print at speeds of 735 cps.

How Long Do Ink Ribbons and Printheads Last?
Dot matrix printers are reliable, durable workhorses. The lifespan of printheads and ribbons, many of which are re-inking cartridges, varies. Printheads can last up to 300 to 600 million strokes per pin, while ribbon cartridges may produce up to 10 million characters in normal draft mode before replacement. Print-yield page formulas vary, but ribbons may generate up to 2,500 single-space pages before replacement.

What Can They Print, and Is Copy Clean?
Printers offer an array of fonts, more than sufficient for non-narrative print output, as well as all major and sub-major domestic and international PC-denominated character sets and alphanumeric barcode prefixes and suffixes. Many printers offer scalable fonts to fit a variety of label formats. Dots per inch (dpi) resolution is not photographic sharp, though letter-quality print ranges all the way up to 360 x 360 dpi, and print is readable and density-bold.