Nonimpact printers use thermal and electrostatic, rather than mechanical, techniques. Ink-jet printers, including bubble-jet printers, squirt heated ink through a matrix of holes to form characters or images. Laser printers form an image of the output on a selenium-coated drum using laser light that is turned on and off by data from the computer and then transfer the output from the drum using photocopying techniques. Thermal-wax-transfer printers and dye-sublimation printers use heat to transfer color pigment from a ribbon to a special paper to produce photographic-quality color images. Nonimpact printers are quieter than impact printers and produce higher quality output, especially of graphics, but at a greater cost per page. See also laser printer.
The firm rapidly expanded, and became the largest printing firm in the world.
The firm led the field in the development of monotype composition.
In 1984 William Clowes Ltd. opened their Printing Museum to commemorate the granting of a charter to Beccles by Queen Elizabeth I.
The museum houses a large collection of composing, printing and binding equipment, memorabilia and books, including a pivotal type caster invented in the United States by David Bruce in 1838, and a Columbian Press, invented in 1898 by George E. Clymer of Philadelphia.
The company in 2004 invested in a new Timsons T48 coldset web press and their share of the consumer book publishing market continues to grow.