How can I get a network or USB printer on a wireless network?

Posted on 2011-10-19
Last Modified: 2013-12-09
If I wanted to be able to print without being directly attached to a printer in any physical way would that be possible if the printer is not wireless? Basically I want to be able to get a USB printer on a wireless network so that anyone could print to it.

Would a print server like this work?

Not too sure because it has the RJ45 and I won't be able to connect it to the LAN.
Question by:ThorinO
    LVL 82

    Expert Comment

    by:Dave Baldwin
    A USB printer attached to one of the computers on a network can be set up to be shared.  I think that Apple's Airport hub has some USB capability.  This Google search will show you a number of "Wireless USB Print Servers" :
    LVL 87

    Accepted Solution

    The print server you have listed, should work for printing, but if your printer is a multifunction device with scanner, fax etc, you probably won't be able to use those extra functions via the LAN. There are only a few external print servers that support such features, and often they will only do that for certain printers from certain manufacturers. The one below would work for Canon Multifunction printers, but probably not for other manufacturers:

    Can't you position your printer so it is close to the wireless router and then connect it to one of it's LAN ports there? A printer usually doesn't have to be close to your PC and it usually is easy to choose a good location for it where you can connect it via LAN port.

    Or another option would be to use something like a powerline between the printer and router:

    Or a wireless Bridge:

    Because when you can make use of the internal NIC on the Printer you can use it's functions fully, as it's software is made to use it's LAN port.
    LVL 37

    Expert Comment

    A networked printer can simply be plugged into the wireless router - most of them have several RJ45 network ports. Your PC can then use WiFi to print to it.

    A USB printer could be connected via a printserver, but there is a *big* gotcha. Most USB printers use the GDI protocol (they rely on the Windows graphics engine to convert the page into dots on the paper). GDI printers are very hard to network. They will *only* work with printservers that specifically support them. Look for a list of supported printers on the manufacturer's website. If your printer is not listed, assume that it will not work.

    If you want to use a printserver, I suggest selecting one that supports a printer language, e.g. PCL5, PCL6, PostScript or ESC/P. Ignore any HP printers that support PCL3 - that is just one of their names for GDI.

    DaveBaldwin's suggestion of using a PC is fine; that does not have the same problems as a printserver. However you then rely on that PC being powered up whenever you want to print.

    If this is for office use, my suggestion is to always get a networked laser that supports PCL/PostScript. Anything else is trouble in the long run.
    LVL 10

    Author Comment

    The printer is located in a different building than the router and switch so I can't get a physical connection over there either by power or network. I think the bridge would be the way to go as it would be cheaper than the print server and I could plug more devices in if necessary.
    LVL 37

    Expert Comment

    I'm glad you're going with a networked printer rather than USB.

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