Difference Between Impact and Non-Impact Printers

Printers can be divided into two kinds. They are impact printers and non-impact printers. The impact printers print with the use of mechanical equipment. The non-impact printers do not use any mechanical component for printing.

Impact printers

Printers that function by hitting a plastic or metal head on a ribbon of ink are known as impact printers. The ink ribbon is then pressed to the paper. This marks the paper with the required dot, line, symbol, or character.

There are several examples of impact printers. They include Ball printers, daisy wheel printers, line printers, dot matrix printers, drum printers, and some more.

Dot matrix printer

A dot matrix printer makes use of pins against a ribbon to print on the paper. Different combinations of pins can produce different symbols and characters on the same page.

Daisy wheel printer

To print each character, a wheel spins and gets fixed to the required petal, then the hammer prints that particular character on the page. This is the working mechanism of a daisy wheel printer.

Line printer

These printers make dots on the pages to form the required character on the paper.

Some important facts regarding impact printers

  • The impact printers print an image on a paper by hitting a print wheel or hammer on an inked ribbon.
  • It makes use of a character dye or metal pin.
  • They are low in speed. It takes a lot of time to print.
  • It makes too much noise. When the hitting mechanism works, the printer makes noise.
  • Quality of printing for impact printers is inferior.
  • It uses older technologies for printing.
  • Impact printers are less expensive.
  • Generally, impact printers use continuous sheets of paper.
  • Among impact printers, only dot matrix printers can print graphic images.
  • Again, only dot matrix printers allow character change among impact printers.

Non-impact printers

Some printers print without making any direct contact of the paper and printing mechanism. These printers are known as non-impact printers. These printers make use of cartridges filled with liquid ink or toner. This allows the printer to print high-quality pictures quietly and quickly.

There are some examples of non-impact printers. They include thermal printers, inkjet printers, and laser printers.

Thermal printers

The output is printed on the paper by using a special heating technique. It requires a heat-sensitive waxy paper and prints dots when the required temperature is achieved.

Inkjet printers

They form images with tiny dots. They spray the paint with four nozzles and passes from the holes in the matrix at very high speed and prints on the paper.

Laser printers

They make use of a cylindrical drum which rotates and prints with an electrically charged ink on the paper.

Some important facts about non-impact printers

  • Non-impact printers do not make any contact with the paper when printing.
  • Printing for non-impact printers is done by depositing ink on the page.
  • The printing for non-impact printers is very fast. They can print various pages in a minute.
  • Non-impact printers are silent. They print by spreading ink on paper.
  • Non-impact printers use special ink, heat, pressure, or laser to print.
  • The quality of print is superior.
  • Non-impact printers make use of toner or cartridge.
  • They use the latest technologies for printing.
  • These printers are expensive compared to impact printers.
  • They generally use single sheets of paper.
  • Graphic images can be easily printed on non-impact printers.
  • Several characters can be printed on a single paper for non-impact printers.

Key differences between impact and non-impact printers

Basis Impact printersNon-impact printers
DescriptionThese printers make an impact on the paper. These printers do not make any contact with the paper. 
MechanismThey print by hitting metal on an ink ribbon and then making an impression on paper.They print by depositing ink on paper.
SpeedThey take longer to print. They take less time to print. 
NoiseThey make more noise while printing.They make no noise while printing. 
Printing processThey use a hammer while printing.They use spray ink while printing.
Printing qualityTheir printing quality is inferior.Their printing quality is superior.
Technology They use old technologies.They use modern technologies. 
Cost They are cheaper.They are expensive.
Paper requiredThey use a single sheet of paper.They use individual sheets of paper.
Graphical imagesGenerally, they cannot print graphical images.They can print graphical images.
Character They cannot print several characters on the same paper.They can print several characters on the same paper.

The details regarding all the differences are listed below.


The impact printers form characters and images on paper by hitting a print wheel or hammer on an inked ribbon and then a picture on paper. While non-impact printers form images and characters without physical impact between paper and printing mechanism.


Impact printers are carried out by hitting a character dye or metal pin. For non-impact printers, printing is done by depositing ink on pages.


Impact printers take a lot of time to print pages. The non-impact printers are much faster. They take much less time to print. They can print several pages in a minute.

Level of noise

Impact printers make a lot of noise while printing. This is due to the sound made by the impact of equipment on paper. Non-impact printers do not make any contact with the paper. Therefore, they do not make any noise while printing.

Process of printing

Impact printers use hammers, wheels, and pins to print on paper. While the non-impact printers make use of spray, special ink, or laser for printing.

Quality of printing

The print quality of the non-impact printers is highly superior to the printing quality of the non-impact printers.

Technology used

Non-impact printers use modern technology to print on sheets of paper. While the impact printers make use of old technologies to print on continuous sheets of paper.

Cost required

The cost of buying and maintaining the impact printers are much less compared to the cost of buying and maintaining the non-impact printers.

Nature of the paper

The impact printers make use of continuous sheets of paper to print characters and images. And the non-impact printers use single sheets of paper to print characters and images.

Graphical images

Among the impact printers, only dot matrix printers can print graphic images. All other impact printers cannot print graphic images. All the non-impact printers can easily print graphic images. The graphic images from non-impact printers are of higher quality.

Style of the character

For one sheet of paper, the impact printers can print only one kind of character. While the non-impact printer can print several kinds of characters on one single sheet of paper.

Final word

There are several kinds of printers from which you can choose your ideal kind of printer. You need to consider all the pros and cons related to an individual printer. We hope that all the details regarding impact printers and non-impact printers helped you select the ideal printer for you. Do mention your views on the article.