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Difference Between Bubble Jet and Inkjet Printers

Updated April 17, 2017

Bubble jet printers, actually a type of inkjet printer, differ from other inkjets by using heat to create bubbles that fire the ink onto paper. Other inkjet printers use a piezo actuator--a ceramic piece vibrated by electricity--to force ink onto paper.

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Siemens patented the first inkjet printer in 1951 and developed it through the 1960s, according to Mimech.com. In the 1970s, IBM made the continuous inkjet printer to mark and code packages. In 1977, Siemens unveiled the drop-on-demand inkjet printer, which was far less complex--it would only eject ink onto the paper when needed, using a piezoelectric ceramic actuator.

Mimech.com also notes that Cannon developed the first bubble jet printer in the 1970s, similar to Siemens' inkjet using a piezo actuator, except Cannon's bubble jet used heat to form an ink vapour bubble that forced the ink onto the paper. Soon after, Hewlett-Packard launched its bubble jet printer, called a thermal inkjet.


The most familiar part of the printer is the ink cartridge we change when the ink runs out. Modern printers include the print head in the ink cartridge. The print head is where the ink is sprayed on the paper, with a piezo actuator or a bubble jet. The print head rides on a stabiliser bar that evenly distributes the inks while the stepper motor pushes it back and forth. Once you insert paper into a printer, rollers pull the paper inside and makes sure the paper moves at a correct pace so the printing goes smoothly.


Inkjet printers, including bubble jets, are very quiet and can produce beautiful colour images with photographic quality. Another advantage is their relatively low price when compared to other printer types, such as laser printers.


The disadvantage of using an inkjet printer is that, while inkjets are cheaper than laser printers, they cost more to maintain, especially in cost per page. The exception is the heavy-duty industrial printer, some models of which can produce printouts for about one-third of a cent per page, reports Mimech.com.


Before purchasing a printer, people should consider what they need in a printer and how they plan to use it--primarily for text printing versus printing photos from a digital camera--and the cost of ink. You can often find bargains or special discounts online.

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About the Author

Mike Jones

Mike Jones is an Atlanta native who has been writing professionally since 2000. He has written a number of entertainment, health and how-to articles for online publications such as eHow and Answerbag. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Regent University.

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