What Is Near-Field Communication (NFC)?

And how can it help you print from a mobile device?

Touch-to-print with near-field communication (NFC)

Near-field communication (NFC) is a protocol found on many of today’s mobile devices. It enables two-way communication between smartphones, tablets, laptops, or printers within close proximity to each other.

This technology is useful for a variety of purposes. For example, two Samsung smartphone users can tap their phones together to exchange a song or contact information. Two coworkers can exchange a spreadsheet in the same way. You can pay for a store purchase by waving your phone near a device at the checkout counter. You can also send documents to a printer to print.

NFC and Your Printer

Using NFC, you can use your printer to print directly from your mobile device without either device being part of your wired or wireless network. Most of the major printer makers (such as HP, Brother, Canon, and Epson) have implemented NFC on many of their printers. Most NFC-ready machines have an “NFC" mark on them for touch-to-print and scanning operations.

Canon has included it in some of its recent digital cameras, allowing you to print directly from the camera to the printer with either a close proximity wave or by holding the camera close to the printer and pressing a button on the camera screen to initiate the NFC session. The action works similarly for smartphones and tablets. 

Canon has added NFC to some of its new higher-end printers, such as the Pixma MG7520 All-in-One, and has also included it in its Pixma Printing Solutions app.

Epson has deployed NFC in several of its all-in-one printers, such as the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One. Brother, too, has included NFC in some of its higher-end models, such as the MFC-J5620DW wide-format model.

How NFC Works for Printing

The initiating NFC device (such as your smartphone) sends out a request for a connection or a “tag.” In turn, the receiving device (such as your printer) sends out its own NFC tag. After the two devices authenticate in this way, they can exchange data (such as your smartphone sending a document to the printer for printing). All of these actions are completed with no drivers required.

The day hasn’t yet come when we can print telepathically, but NFC allows us to come pretty close by touching two devices together or touching something on your phone to print.