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Do you really know what these 5 common printer terms mean?

Printers have been around for quite some time and every business has at least one. They are practically a standard piece of office equipment in every home as well. They are so common now, perhaps we should refer to them as an everyday electronic. It might be safe to presume that the average person knows everything about printer technology. However, it may be that a person is simply familiar with hearing a common term yet doesn't actually know what it means or the details that are important. Here are 5 common printer terms everyone should know.

#1. DPI: This term refers to the number of dots per inch produced by ink to create an image. A higher DPI number means more dots. More dots results in greater detail and accuracy. Most printers feature 300 or 600 DPI as adequate for a standard print job. If light weight paper is used with lower DPI, colors may bleed together. For color prints, heavier paper performs better. If a laser printer is producing a high-quality job, or glossy paper is being used, it should perform at a higher DPI. But note that as you increase DPI the file size will increase correspondingly.

#2. CMYK: Practically every printed material has undergone four-color (also called plate) process printing. CMYK refer to the colors used:

  • C = Cyan (a vivid turquoise blue)
  • M = Magenta (think hot pink with a tinge of purple)
  • Y = Yellow (bright sunshine yellow)
  • K = Black (don't ask why K is used instead of B)

Each color used to print materials from magazines to business cards is a combination of these four shades with varying ratios. In order to accurately reproduce a color, numerical values are given to each letter. You might see a read-out like: C=95 M=57 Y=2 K=41. It is possible that the letters will be omitted and you will only see the numerical values: 95 57 2 41. In such cases, even if one color makes no contribution it will still be indicated by a zero value. In print jobs that require color consistency and accuracy, you may have to submit CMYK values before it will print.

#3. RIP: No, this is not an alert advising you that your printer is about to crash. It stands for Raster Image Processor (RIP). A printer's RIP converts images or text (raster or vector) into a high-resolution file the printer can read. It's actually software or, perhaps, firmware, rather than something mechanical within the printer. The RIP is what is responsible for creating the bitmap the printing function requires. In order for the images or text to become readable by the printer, the fonts and images must be flattened. Now you know why you are prompted to include link and font files with printing projects.

#4. Ink: You may think ink, is ink, is ink. But it's not.

    Solid ink is a color brick. The brick rubs the image into existence. It is best used if you want to create vibrant hues.
    Pigment ink is created from a fine powder. It sits on top of the paper rather than being absorbed. It is long-lasting with color properties maintaining their integrity. Pigments are more pricey and are used for professional print jobs rather than making copies.
    Dye ink is a liquid that soaks into a piece of paper's fibers. Although it produces vivid coloring, paper will be damp immediately after printing. Also, if a poor quality of paper is used colors may bleed. Despite the bright beauty of dye ink, it doesn't last. This ink is the quickest to fade.

#5. Bleed: You would think that this refers to when the colors bleed together. However, when it is used to designate a particular area of a print job, it means something entirely different. It is actually an imaginary border the printer envisions to help it align correctly with the area that will receive ink. The bleed is the dead space around the edges of a printed project. About 1/2 inch margin is recommended, although many printing and publishing software will have the bleed automatically set. But you can always enter settings and adjust or turn it off altogether.

If you have any questions about how to get the most out of your printer, please contact us. We are your green office equipment solution and our professional technicians are available for repair as well as routine maintenance.