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Dot matrix printing

Computer printing process / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Dot matrix printing,[1] sometimes called impact matrix printing, is a computer printing process in which ink is applied to a surface using a relatively low-resolution dot matrix for layout. Dot matrix printers typically use a print head that moves back and forth or in an up-and-down motion on the page and prints by impact, striking an ink-soaked cloth ribbon against the paper, much like the print mechanism on a typewriter or line printer. However, a dot matrix printer is able to print arbitrary patterns and not just specific characters.

A dot matrix printer
The word "Delivery" as output in a bold, large font by a dot matrix receipt printer, as seen under a low-powered microscope
Sample output from a dot matrix printer

The perceived quality of dot matrix printers depends on the vertical and horizontal resolution and the ability of the printer to overlap adjacent dots. 9-pin and 24-pin are common; this specifies the number of pins in a specific vertically aligned space. With 24-pin printers, the horizontal movement can slightly overlap dots, producing visually superior output (near letter quality or NLQ), usually at the cost of speed.

Dot matrix printing is typically distinguished from non-impact methods, such as inkjet, thermal, or laser printing, though they too may use a bitmap to represent the printed work. It is also able to employ endless printing using continuous paper fanfolded with perforations for each page to be easily torn from each other.