Impact Printer

An impact printer is a type of printer that operates by striking a metal or plastic head against an ink ribbon. The ink ribbon is pressed against the paper, marking the page with the appropriate character, dot, line, or symbol. Common examples of impact printers include dot matrix, daisy-wheel printers, and ball printers.

Dot matrix printers work by striking a grid of pins against a ribbon. Different characters are printed by using different pin combinations. Daisy-wheel printers use a circular wheel with "petals" that each have a different character or symbol on the end. In order to print each character, the wheel spins to the appropriate petal and a hammer strikes the petal against the ribbon and the page. Similarly, ball printers use a spherical ball with raised characters on the outside. The ball spins to each character before printing it on the page.

While impact printers still have some uses (such as printing carbon copies), most printers are now non-impact printers. These printers, such as laser and inkjet printers are much quieter than impact printers and can print more detailed images.

Updated June 22, 2010 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

What is the purpose of a VLAN?

It hides a network from the public.
I prevents wireless access to a network.
It merges several networks into a single network.
It provides higher data transfer rates than a traditional network.
Correct! Incorrect!     View the VLAN definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Impact Printer on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.