|How does a laser printer work? What is the toner made of and how does the printer place it on the paper? — PC, Brussels, Belgium
A laser printer uses the light beam from a laser to control the placement of electric charges on a photoconductor surface. A photoconductor is a material that only conducts electricity when exposed to light, so that charges can move through the photoconductor only when the laser beam hits it. The printer uses a corona discharge to place charges on the darkened photoconductor and then uses the laser beam to remove charges from certain places. The end result is a pattern of electric charges that's an image of the final print. The toner particles, which are made of black plastic, are given an electric charge so that they cling to the charge image on the photoconductor. This pattern of toner particles is then transferred to electrically charged paper and fused to that paper with heat and pressure.