How Does a Laser Printer Work?

How does a laser printer use a laser beam to print documents? Laser printers use a series of steps to produce high-quality images on paper using a powder ink called toner. Images are created through a combination of static electricity, laser beams, ink rollers, and photoreceptor drums. 

First, a corona wire is used to charge the photoreceptor drum with static electricity. A laser beam then draws the images and text on the drum. An ink roller coats the drum with the toner before a sheet of paper is passed through the printer toward the drum. Heat and pressure are then used to fuse the ink to the paper permanently.

Charging the Photoreceptor Drum

When you send a document to the laser printer for printing, you are sending millions of bytes of information to the printer.

A small electronic circuit inside the laser printer reads the data and interprets how to print the information on a piece of paper. This circuit then activates a wire called the corona wire that is responsible for sending a positive electric charge to the photoreceptor drum.

The photoreceptor drum receives a positive electric charge that is spread evenly across the entire surface of the drum. The drum is then ready for the laser to produce an image on its surface.

Drawing the Image on the Drum

When the drum is charged, the circuit then sends information to the laser to begin drawing the document onto the drum. The laser remains fixed in place, while a moving mirror bounces the laser beam toward specific areas of the drum.

The laser beam draws the image by replacing the positive electric charge with a negative charge. The areas of the drum that retain the positive charge will remain blank on the paper, while the regions with a negative charge will receive the ink.

Laser printers can either print in black & white or color, depending on the type of printer that you purchase. B&W printers tend to cost less and print documents faster, helping to save time and energy if you don’t need color documents.

You can learn more about print speeds and other options by reading a detailed laser printer buyer’s guide. Use these guides to find out how to select the best printer based on your printing needs.

Applying the Toner to the Paper

The next stage of the laser printing process is applying the toner to the paper. An ink roller is used to apply the powered ink to the photoreceptor drum. The toner receives a positive electrical charge so that it will attach to the areas of the drum that have a negative charge. The toner now has a negative charge.

The paper is then fed from the hopper toward the photoreceptor drum. The corona wire also applies a positive electrical charge to the document before it reaches the drum.

As the paper passes the drum, the positive charge attracts the toner to transfer the image onto the paper. To fuse the ink to the paper, the paper is passed through a set of hot rollers. These rollers apply heat and pressure to ensure that the toner particles are permanently fused to the paper.

When the paper rolls out of the printer, the ink is mostly dry, and there is no risk of smudging. The colors will also not bleed when water or moisture hits the paper.

Conclusion – How Does a Laser Print an Image?

Laser printers produce higher quality images compared to standard inkjet printers. While both options use ink to create an image, they use different methods of applying the ink. With a laser printer, the image is drawn on a drum using a laser. The drum is given a positive charge of electricity. The laser eliminates the positive charge where the image and text appear. An ink roller than applies the toner which is fused to the paper.

With a laser printer, colors are less likely to bleed together. These printers also produce documents quickly and with precision. You can often get greater clarity with a laser printer compared to an inkjet printer. If you are looking for the most efficient, economical way to print documents, you may want to switch to a laser printer.


Duke Taber is the owner of 3 successful websites and is now taking his skill as a writer and using it to help non-profit organizations and leaders around the world.