Impact printers use a mechanical printhead with print wires that strike a ribbon to print on paper. Impact printers are common in many offices and techs need to know how they work for maintenance and service. Mike describes the pieces and processes involved in taking care of impact printers.
- What I have in front of me is the granddaddy of all printers. This is a dot matrix or impact printer. These printers are so old they predate PCs and were used back in the old mainframe days. So, what I want to do is talk about some of the parts that we're going to see here. So, first of all, let me get some of this out of the way. (printer parts clunking) Let's see if we can take a look at this way inside here. So, this is the print head. Now, the print head actually has lots of little, tiny pins that push through this ink. This is actually... (printer parts clunking) Let's see if I can get this out. This is an ink ribbon, so this actually has ink in it like an old-time typewriter, and the little pins push through this little, tiny head, and it actually makes impact on paper. Let me see if I can get this guy back in. So, we've got a print head. We're got our ribbon. It goes back and forth on this traverse mechanism. Then we have the platen. Let's see if I can get a better (printer part clattering) poke at that. There we go. So, this right here is called the platen. It's what we press against, so when the little pins push through the ink ribbon and onto the paper, this is what pushes up against it. These platens can get out of aligned, and they can be a real problem. So, basically, those are the main pieces of what makes these guys work. The main thing is that these ribbons wear out, and if you've got a dot matrix printer around, you're going to have extra ribbon cartridges around just because the moment it starts to go out, it becomes pretty obvious. The other issue that comes into play, although not as common, is that the actual print head itself goes out. These print heads are removable, and even on really old dot matrix printers, you can still find replacement print heads for them. You just take the whole thing out. Put a new one in. And then the other problem we have is paper. Now, we usually think about paper like good ole 8 1/2, 11 paper like this, but back in the dot matrix days, we had paper like this. Let's take a close look at this. So, what we're looking at here is tractor feed paper. The idea behind tractor feed paper was that this is how all these old printers used to work. You could never put stuff like this in these guys originally, although they've come up with the times, and they work just fine. So, the idea behind tractor feed is we've got some tractor feeds in there, and we would leave it there. Most of the time with these dot matrix printers, and if you take a look, this is some multi-part form right here, and that's the real benefit to dot matrix because of the impact aspect. This has one... I'm going to count. One, two, three, four, five, six copies that it can punch through, and I don't even know what this is for. Not sure if I even want to tell you what it is, but that's really the big benefit of dot matrix is multi-part forms. You think that dot matrixs are not that common anymore, and you're right. You tend not to see them in homes or in offices, but in industrial environments and situations like shipping, the ability to use multi-part forms makes them extremely popular and fun to use. So, the other maintenance thing I want to mention on these guys is these platens in particular are a real challenge. You've got to be so careful with them. Over time, the platens will run out of adjustment, and there's always some kind of adjustment screw on here. These has got little, tiny tabs, which allow you to try to bring that platen back in line. It can be a real challenge, and it takes a lot of time. The downside is is that you might find maintenance kits for these, but for most of these dot matrix printers, they're such tanks that outside of the occasional cleaning, you just let them run, and they work forever. (twangy guitar and drum music)
This Total Seminars course covers the exam certification topics. For information on additional study resources—including practice tests, lab simulations, books, and discounted exam vouchers—visit totalsem.com/linkedin. LinkedIn Learning members receive special pricing.
This course was created by Total Seminars. We are pleased to offer this training in our library.
We are a CompTIA Partner. As such, we are able to offer CompTIA exam vouchers at a 10% discount. For more information on how to obtain this discount, please download these PDF instructions.