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Early in the "computer age" the sages began to dream of the "paperless office", a Utopia which has yet to come to pass.  Even a PowerPoint presentation, which can be projected via a digital projector and thus without the need for film-based slides, is often accompanied by a package of handouts, all printed on plain old paper. As a medium, paper is hard to beat - it requires no batteries, no wires, no network; it can't be erased (though it is easy to throw out), it is not prone to hardware crashes, it doesn't go obsolete, you don't need legacy hardware to read it (though you might need to learn another language).  Most importantly, you can take it home and read it propped up in bed.

Biological images find their ways into a number of different print formats.  These pages will help you format the images and get them onto paper.

Printing Basics - Types of Printers

The Biology Department has 3 different types of printers (4 if we haven't thrown out all of the dot-matrix printers yet).  Each printer type is best for certain applications.

1.  Laser Printers.   These are the workhorses; they can't be beat for the combination of speed and low cost.  The overall technology is similar to what you would see in a copy machine. They work by scanning a laser across a drum, changing it's electrostatic charge.  This charge then attracts a fine powder - the toner.  The toner is actually a pulverized plastic powder which sticks to the drum until it is pressed onto the paper.  The toner is then fused (melted) onto the plastic by heat.  Laser copies are long lasting, the "ink" won't run if it gets wet, and it is also resistant to many organic solvents.  This makes it ideal for specimen labels which will be placed in jars of alcohol.  The cost is basically for the toner and the paper.  Currently (2002), it costs about 3 cents per page; one half of this is the cost of paper and the other the cost of toner. For most printing you would be using the HP LaserWriter 4000 located in the Bartlett Computer Lab and accessible over the network as BartQ1.  The big disadvantage of the laser printer is the fact that most cannot print in color.  This is rapidly changing, and some color laser printers are priced very economically, although the cost per page is in the 4-5 cent range.  Since most of what we print is black, this isn't very economical.  Many outlets for biological images - such as scholarly journals - do not print in color for cost reasons as well.  Therefore, the BW laser printer will probably be around until the costs of color printing are comparable.  Resolution is excellent; most newer printers use very fine toner and can print 1200 dots per inch (dpi). It can also be used to make transparencies.  Because of cost issues, if you need to make more than one copy, make the additional copies on a copy machine.

2.  Color Inkjet Printers.  Say you are preparing a report which will contain one color image.  It makes sense to print out most of the report on the low-cost BW laser printer and print the one page on the color inkjet.  The inkjet excels when it comes to photographic reproductions as well; modern inkjets make prints almost as good and durable as those obtained using traditional darkroom techniques.  The downside?  Cost - 55 cents per page; slow speed, the need to use special paper. We have color inkjets available in the Bartlett Computer Lab, the Research Lab in Rickey, and the Graphics Lab.

3.   Dye Sublimation Printers.  We have two of these units.  They use a thin, dye-impregnated film which is heated to transfer the dye to a coated paper.  The final result is very close to a photograph; our printers use 4x6 photo paper so they are unsuitable for larger images.  The cost is also high.

Printing Basics - Software

Virtually any software has the ability to print.  Windows software ties together the application software (such as Photoshop) with the printer you choose.  Whenever you print, you will need to make setting selections on both the application software and the printing software.  These settings include the orientation of the paper, the type and source of paper, the resolution of the printer, the margins, headers, footers, etc.  Specific instructions for printing to each of the printers are given on the pages associated with those printers.