Glossary of Terms

Actuator

The element inside a piezo-electric printhead in which a pressure wave is generated to eject a stream or discrete drops of ink through the nozzle. The actuator will normally be found within the ink chamber, sometimes forming the actual chamber walls. See also Piezo Printhead and Thermal Printhead.

Adobe Illustrator

A vector based linework drawing program from Adobe Systems, available for Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. The current version is Illustrator CC 2014, part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of rental-only programs. Its main output file formats are the native AI, and the device-independent EPS and PDF.

Adobe Photoshop

The dominant program used in professional photography, design and print for processing, editing retouching and compositing of photographic and similar bitmap images. It was originally introduced in 1990 for the Apple Macintosh, and later developed as a parallel Windows version that now offers almost identical features.

AFP

Stands for Advanced Function Presentation. It's a printer architecture that's mainly used for financial, transactional and direct mail applications, which contain personalised and other variable content. It was originally developed by IBM (which called it Advanced Function Printing), but was handed over to the multi-developer AFP Consortium in 2004, which brought it up to date with respect to colour content.

Analogue

Infinitely variable, the stuff of everyday experience. A dimmer switch on a room light (or car instrument lights) is analogue, as the light increases or decreases smoothly and steplessly. In the printing sector, analogue is normally used as a distinction from digital, which splits things up into tiny chunks, all of the same size. Think of analogue as a ski-slope, and digital as the stairs you use to reach the top.

Aqueous ink

An ink using water as the main carrier. Also called water-based ink. This ink is considered non-toxic and safe for general domestic and office use. Aqueous ink is also often used for high quality fine art and photographic printing. It has little or no odour during or after printing. It's normally more expensive than solvent based inks.

Array

A general term that has more specific meanings in inkjet printing, as either an alternative name for a print head (in the nozzle sense), or the collective term for a number of such print heads arranged together. See print head.