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The Truth About A Portable Laser Printer


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Having seen the title of this article, those of you in the know may already be thinking; what, did those clever computer scientists find a way to make a laser printer small enough to be considered portable? Unfortunately the answer is no, there is no such thing as a portable laser printer, and we are going to consider the reasons why. First, let's take a basic look at how laser printers work.

Laser printers work on a page by page basis. The data that makes up the page is sent to the printer and the page does not start printing until the entire document is in the laser printer's memory. A laser scans across the surface of a drum that rotates, and flashes on and off to make a dot on the drum that has a different polarity to the rest of the drum. This dot attracts the toner to it-toner being a combination of powdered plastic and a colorant.

The drum is rolled across a piece of paper, transferring the toner to the paper. The combined paper and toner is then heated to approximately two hundred degrees Fahrenheit inside the laser printer, bonding the toner to the paper. This temperature alone requires a certain amount of space within the case, and space is at a premium with a portable printer.

Inkjet printers are far simpler and involve much smaller components. A liquid ink is passed out of the cartridge by varying methods that result in the ink being passed out, through a print head and onto the paper. The data is a continuous stream and printing can pause while waiting for more data, unlike with a laser printer.

Because of the way that the two machines work, they are sized very differently. Laser printers are large, and heavy machines that require large amounts of power to run the lasers and the produce the high heat needed to bond the toner to the paper-too much to be provided by a portable battery. Inkjets do not contain an imaging drum-instead producing the images through the print heads. The power required is much smaller, and hence is able to be supplied by a battery.

For this reason it is inkjet printers that are able to be made small enough to be portable. The lightest portable inkjet is just 2lb in weight, but the smallest laser printer currently is 10lb and 14 inches wide, by 9 deep. The size would be undesirable in a portable, the weight of a laser printer would be even less portable and there is another drawback.

Most laser printers are black and white only. Few are color and are hugely expensive. Portable printer users are most commonly business people, and being restricted to the monotone of a laser printer would not be good.

In the future perhaps technology will increase to the point that portable laser printers are possible, but for today, the only portable printer is an inkjet.

You can find out more about a Portable Laser Printer as well as much more information on everything to do with laser printers and accessories at


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