What is a Dot-Matrix Printer?

You might not have given using a printer much thought up until now. After all, you don't need a printed copy of what is shown on the screen if you don't use your personal computer to play games or to figure out your family's budget.

However, as you learn to use your computer more efficiently, the limitations imposed by the lack of a printer will become more apparent. You might wish to preserve a duplicate of your listings if you develop your programs. If you perform your accounting on a computer, you'll need to print off a copy of the results.

Dot-matrix printers are specific printers that print text and graphics by slapping pins against an ink ribbon to create precisely spaced dots in the desired pattern. Dot-matrix printers are pricey and do not generate output that is of excellent quality. However, unlike laser and ink-jet printers, they may print multi-page forms (i.e., carbon copies).

Types of Dot-matrix printers:

Dot matrix printers have two types based on the printing orientations:

  • unidirectional printers
  • bidirectional printers

In contrast to unidirectional printers, which only print in one way (from left to right), bidirectional printers print in both directions (from left to right and right to left).

There are three primary categories of printers based on the number of pins or dots used for each letter: 9 pins, 18 pins, and 24 pins.

There are 80 column printers and 132 column printers based on the movement of the print head. The print head moves 80 and 132 columns in these two different types of printers, respectively.

There are monochrome printers and color printers, according to print color. The only color that a monochrome printer outputs are black, but a color dot matrix printer may print up to four colors—Red, Green, Blue, and Black.

Characteristics of Dot-matrix printers:

dot matrix printer

Dot-matrix printers differ in two crucial aspects:


The speed expressed in characters per second (cps) can range from roughly 50 to over 500 cps. Most dot-matrix printers provide a range of velocities depending on the required print quality.

Print quality:

It can range from 9 to 24 pins, based on the mechanics that print the dots. Although there is still a difference if you look closely, the best dot-matrix printers (24 Pins) can create a type close to letter quality.

You should take into account the noise component in addition to these features. Dot-matrix printers are known for creating more noise than laser and ink-jet printers.

The function of the Dot-matrix printer:

Characters are printed on paper by hitting an inked ribbon against a hard surface in all dot matrix printers. Dot matrix printers don't have set character forms or typefaces compared to typewriters, which use a similar operation. Instead, a sequence of pins is arranged to create each unique figure. Dot matrix printers may now print basic graphics and text in several typefaces in addition to text; however, the printout will now have a distinctive "dotted" look. The text on dot matrix prints is frequently of worse quality and might be challenging to read. Dot matrix printers are also typically louder than ink-jet or laser versions.

Media Formats:

The "daisy-wheel" paper feeding mechanism used by most dot matrix printers is unique to continuous-feed media and calls for a strip of punched holes on the sides. On uncoated, somewhat thin paper, they perform best. On the other hand, dot matrix printers are suitable for use with multiple-part forms, such as shipping documentation and bills, unlike laser or ink-jet printers. They can print on every portion of a single document in a single pass because of their impact-based printing features.

Pin Density and Dot Size:

Even the best dot matrix printers typically fall short of the quality of ink-jet or laser printers when it comes to print quality because of the number and size of pins in the print head. The cheapest dot matrix machines create each character using just nine pins, giving them a pixelated, blocky look. A higher number of tiny pins are used by more sophisticated printers, which results in finer detail and does away with the distinctive appearance of dot matrix text. Dual 9-pin and 24-pin print heads are typical configurations for these printers.

Modern Application:

Dot matrix printers were gradually phased out of everyday use in the early to mid-1990s as ink-jet, and laser printers became more dependable and economical. Companies that need to print continuous feed documents or utilize multi-part forms continue to employ them often. Due in part to the low demand for them, dot matrix printers are only made by a limited number of companies as of the date of writing and have increased in price relative to ink-jet and laser printers that provide comparable functionality.

Working principle of Dot-matrix printers:

Dot matrix printers not only sound very technical and complex, but they also appear very technical and perplexing.

It's because of this that many individuals are wary of utilizing them.

Ink-jet printers and dot matrix printers have many similarities. They operate by employing a movable head that prints lines at a time.

Dot matrix printers use an impact printing technique known as "head and ribbon" in contrast to ink-jet printers. This process resembles the way a typical typewriter leaves a trace on the page by making small holes in the ribbon and the paper.

Advantages of Dot-matrix printers:

More affordable than most printers:

For people who still think about purchasing products at reasonable costs, a dot matrix printer is essentially less expensive and easily accessible.

Ability to print carbon copies:

It is a particularly effective method for creating carbon copies of a specific printout, unlike non-impact printers. Therefore, this is a better option if you want to get more effective outcomes.

A Ribbon Replacement Indication:

By the time the printing fades, it will do so gradually rather than abruptly. By doing this, you can be confident that you will have plenty of time before the crisis to replace the ribbon.

Features of Dot-matrix printer:

Following are the main features of dot-matrix printers:

  • Pins 
  • Ribbons 


On a dot-matrix, all the activity takes place at the pins. The dot matrix printer generates low-resolution printouts when it begins from 9 pins. Consumer dot matrix printers attained their maximum resolution when they had 24 pins. The denser dot patterns on dot matrix printers indicate higher resolution and better print quality.


The ribbon used by dot matrix printers has ink on it. When the paper feeder positions the paper, the pins press against the ribbon to transfer the ink onto the paper, following the computer's instructions. The three bands that make color ink ribbons correspond to the three fundamental colors. Color pictures should be printed using many pin strikes to get the right tone.

Printing process on the dot-matrix printer:

A printer that creates pictures out of dots using hammers and a ribbon. Used to print multi-part forms and address labels, tractor and sprocket mechanisms in these devices manage thicker media better than laser and ink-jet printers. The term "serial dot matrix printer" is sometimes used.

Hammers Stroke the Ribbon:

One or two columns of moving dot hammers are used by the dot matrix printer to create dots on the paper. The ink is applied to the page by the quick pressure of the hammers on the ribbon. The resolution increases with the number of hammers. For instance, text produced by 9-pin heads is of draught quality, but output from 24-pin heads is of typewriter grade. 200 to 400 characters per second (cps), or 90 to 180 lines per minute, is the range of speeds (ipm).

  • The printer receives a series of ASCII codes from the computer first.
  • The RAM buffer is where the printer initially stores the ASCII codes it receives.
  • The printer is instructed on the pattern of dots to utilize to create the necessary character form represented by the ASCII code by the bitmap table found in the printer's ROM chip.
  • The printer processor uses the bitmap table's dot pattern information to deliver signals to the printer head.
  • The printer head has 9, 18, or 24 pins vertically aligned and one end attached to a separate electromagnet.
  • This electromagnet is activated to cause the moving pin to impact the ink-coated ribbon as the print pins are fired against the ribbon and paper.
  • The electromagnet is de-energized once the pin fires, which causes the spring to draw the print pin back. This electromagnet is activated to cause the moving pin to impact the ink-coated ribbon as the print pins are fired against the ribbon and paper.
  • The electromagnet is de-energized once the pin fires, which causes the spring to draw the print pin back.


For those unfamiliar with the term, a dot-matrix printer uses a printhead to push several needles onto an inked ribbon, then transfers several ink dots to the paper. These dots may be organized to create characters or images, much like an ink-jet printer.

People still purchase dot-matrix printers because they use impact technology and can be used with multipart forms. The carbon paper or carbonless paper underneath receives the pressure of the needle pressing on the ribbon.



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