Early printers, such as dot matrix and daisywheel printers were called impact printers, since they operated by striking an ink ribbon against the paper. Most modern printers, including inkjet and laser printers, don't include an ink ribbon and are considered to be non-impact printers.
Non-impact printers are generally much quieter than impact printers since they don't physically strike the page. For example, inkjet printers spray tiny drops of ink onto the page, while laser printers use a cylindrical drum that rolls electrically charged ink onto the paper. Both of these methods are non-impact and provide an efficient printing process that produces little sound. The low impact nature of inkjet and laser printers also means they are less likely to need maintenance or repairs than earlier impact printers.
Updated: May 25, 2010