Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negatively charged cylinder called a "drum" to define a differentially charged image. The drum then selectively collects electrically charged powdered ink (toner), and transfers the image to paper, which is then heated to permanently fuse the text, imagery, or both, to the paper. As with digital photocopiers, laser printers employ a xerographic printing process. Laser printing differs from traditional xerography as implemented in analog photocopiers in that in the latter, the image is formed by reflecting light off an existing document onto the exposed drum.
The laser printer was invented at Xerox PARC in the 1970s. Laser printers were introduced for the office and then home markets in subsequent years by IBM, Canon, Xerox, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and many others. Over the decades, quality and speed have increased as prices have decreased, and the once cutting-edge printing devices are now ubiquitous.
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