Impact Printing - What is impact printing?
Any method of printing that uses the physical force of an impact to transfer a printing ink or pigment from a ribbon to the substrate. The ink or pigment is transferred when a hammer strikes either the ribbon against the substrate or the substrate against a ribbon and drum, chain, or bar. The hammer may be controlled by a micro processor (e.g. in a dot matrix printer) or activated manually (e.g. in a typewriter).
These methods create print using either a dot matrix or pre-made raised letterforms. Dot matrix printing creates text and images out of a set of dots (dot matrix) using a printhead with a series of hammers and pins; the pins strike the ribbon against the substrate to create a pattern of dots that represent the required text or image. Other impact printers (including typewriters, daisy wheel printers, and line printers) use a set of raised letterforms to create the required character on the substrate. In typewriters and daisy wheel printers, a hammer strikes the corresponding typebar against the ribbon to create the required character on the substrate; typewriters have letterforms on individual typebars while in daisy wheel printers the typebars sit on a wheel, which spins to align the required character with the hammer. In line printers, the letterforms sit on a constantly moving drum, chain, or bar; when the required character is aligned with the print position, a hammer strikes the substrate against the ribbon and the cylinder, chain, or bar.
While extremely popular at one time, these methods of printing have more or less been replaced over the years; they may still be found in a few applications such as point of sale terminals, creating multiple part documents (which require the use of impact printing to print all of the layers simultaneously), and basic print on packaging. They are restricted in what they can print and how they can print it; most impact printers are only able to produce basic monochome text. They also tend to be noisier, slower, unable to produce fine detail and high resolution print, and are subject to problems with wear and tear due to the force of the impact used to transfer the printing medium.Go Back to Glossary