How Laser Printers Work

The Laser Assembly

Since it actually draws the page, the printer's laser system -- or laser scanning assembly -- must be incredibly precise. The traditional laser scanning assembly includes:

  • A laser
  • A movable mirror
  • A lens

The laser receives the page data -- the tiny dots that make up the text and images -- one horizontal line at a time. As the beam moves across the drum, the laser emits a pulse of light for every dot to be printed, and no pulse for every dot of empty space.


The laser doesn't actually move the beam itself. It bounces the beam off a movable mirror instead. As the mirror moves, it shines the beam through a series of lenses. This system compensates for the image distortion caused by the varying distance between the mirror and points along the drum.