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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  18 Jan 2011

PUBLISHING: LED Technology - Printing's Best-Kept Secret is Revealed


Recent Gauteng Business News

Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology is the latest development to take the world by storm, with LED-based products emerging in a variety of diverse industries from televisions, laptops and computer screens to lighting and car manufacturing, offering significant benefits over traditional technology in these areas. Some of these benefits include the fact that LED is more environmentally friendly with lower energy consumption, uses smaller sized components compared to traditional technology and can offer enhanced performance, greater flexibility and improved running costs.

The printer market has not escaped this phenomenon, with the recent emergence of advanced LED-based printing solutions designed to replace laser printer technology.

While it is touted as a cutting edge solution, LED printing technology has in fact been around since the late 1980's, but due to cost constraints has not taken off as a mainstream product until recently. In the last couple of years digital LED printer technology has seen resurgence and acceleration as research and development of LED technology has been stepped up over the years and the solutions are now beginning to provide cost effective alternatives to older technology.

This recent emergence of LED as a powerful and cost effective technology has moved the LED printer from its previous status as the printing world's best kept secret, a niche, nice to have product, into a mainstream, efficient, high quality and above all affordable print delivery option.

How LED printers work

Print quality, very simply, is dependent on how accurately toner or ink can be applied to the paper in the right concentration. In most of today's printers and multi-function devices an electro-photographic method is used, so this accuracy is determined by the level of electronic charge on the exposing drum containing the toner, whether this is simple black and white or multi-colour printing. How this charge is adjusted based on the amount of coverage needed is critical for maintaining a consistent, high quality output.

Laser printers use a laser to provide the light source for generating the required electrical charge, hence the name, but using a single laser light source to scan each drum using a rotating mirror has been revealed to have inherent limitations when it comes to consistent, even spread of toner on a page.

Digital LED technology, in contrast, produces a dramatically different result. Using multiple LEDs distributed across a thin film array, a far more even electrical charge can be achieved, resulting in fine and accurate printing that surpasses laser and produces high quality even around the edges of a page. The highly complex optical systems used in laser printers are no longer necessary making for highly reliable devices that deliver top quality and top performance.

As mentioned, LED printer technology is not new, but has evolved to such a point that it now offers a competitive alternative to laser printer technology. Where first generation LED printers delivered similar quality to laser, with speeds of around eight pages per minute, making them an expensive alternative that delivered minimal benefits, the latest third generation digital LED print technology offers significant advances on every aspect of printing performance. Resolution delivered on LED printers now reaches up to 1200dpi with print speeds of more than 50 pages per minute, making them a product that competes with high cost offset print alternatives.

The benefits of digital LED printers

As an alternative to laser print technology, and delivers a number of benefits to the end user, including high quality prints, a compact footprint, greater reliability and reduced carbon emissions.

Smaller dot sizes on LED printers provide accurate output every time, and intelligent software can determine how long each and every single LED is switched on for, ensuring the electrical charge on the drum is optimal and delivering higher levels of detail and greater colour depth. LED technology also reduces the footprint of physical devices by reducing print head size, resulting in a smaller chassis and a smaller device overall, particularly appealing in environments where space is at a premium. LED printers also have fewer moving parts than laser devices and have none of the complicated optical arrays laser printers contain so provide far higher levels of reliability.

However one of the major benefits of LED technology in any field, including printers, is its environmental friendliness. LEDs enable improved energy performance, lowering carbon footprints by reducing energy consumption by up to a quarter in standby mode compared to conventional printers. Print speeds and fuser temperature can also be intelligently adjusted to reduce energy consumption and further lower running costs.

To conclude

Digital LED technology is moving towards rapid mass market acceptance in a variety of fields for the numerous benefits it provides, meeting the needs of today's consumer for speed, reliability and quality along with cost effectiveness. While LED printers are by no means a new technology, along with this worldwide LED wave they are beginning to gain popularity and now offer a viable, high quality alternative to the traditional laser printer device.

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