Laser Printer vs. Inkjet Printer

The inkjet vs laser printer debate isn’t about which one is better. It’s about which one is the right tool for the job you’re asking it to do. They both serve the same general purpose, but they use distinct methods that might be more efficient for a given task.

The defining difference between laser and inkjet printers is the way they apply substance to paper. Inkjet (or bubble jet) printers use hundreds of tiny nozzles to spray liquid ink onto the page. Laser printers, on the other hand, use light to melt toner onto the page instead.

Do Laser Printers use ink?

No. Ink is defined as a liquid used to mark or draw on something. Laser printers use toner, which is a powdered material. In any case, printer ink and printer toner are made of entirely different materials and are certainly not interchangeable.

Regardless of what’s inside, though, printers are an indispensable component of modern business. Here are six questions to ask yourself before you dive in and purchase one.

What Can you afford to spend upfront on a new printer?

This isn’t always the most important factor, of course, but it’s typically the question people think to ask first. Generally speaking, purchasing a cheap inkjet printer over a cheap laser printer will save you some money… at least, temporarily.

It’s worth noting that, although toner cartridges are several times more expensive than ink cartridges, you get a lot more out of them. Ultimately, the cost per page of laser printers is marginally lower, so you’ll likely save money over the life of the printer.

How often do you print?

One of the most common user complaints about inkjet printers is that, if they aren’t used often enough, the ink tends to dry out like a marker that you forgot to put the cap back on.

In the best-case scenario, that might force you to purchase new cartridges unexpectedly, deflating the cost efficiency of your printer to depressing figures.

In the worst-case scenario, it could cause permanent damage, especially to cheap inkjet printers that don’t have measures in place to help safeguard against this. In other words, that cheap inkjet printer won’t seem like such a bargain if you must replace it before it celebrates its first birthday.

Laser printers don’t typically experience functional issues when they sit for a long time period without being used. If you plan on printing infrequently, you’re better off forking over the extra cash for a laser printer. This mostly applies to at-home users.

How much do you print?

There are two parts to this question: how much do you print per month, and how much do you print at a time?

Laser printers can print up to six times more pages per minute than their inkjet counterparts, reaching triple digit output in some cases. If you want ten copies of your 163-page operations audit before you need to shave again, a laser printer is for you. They’re also built to handle a monthly workload several times higher. Approaching or exceeding your printer’s maximum monthly duty threshold can cause your printer to breathe its last breath far sooner than you planned for.

In essence, laser printers are far more attractive options for large offices, or businesses that sell high volumes of printed items such as flyers or pamphlets. And if you’re the latter, you probably want to be looking into managed print services.

What are you printing?

Laser printers are great at printing text and medium quality images expediently, but can’t produce the kind of images that photo inkjet printers can.

What are you printing on?

Inkjet printers on the whole are more versatile in terms of the size and type of paper (or other material) they can print on.

Laser printers work by heating the paper and melting toner onto it, so if they’re fed the wrong material, they could melt it and cause irreversible damage to the mechanisms.

Conversely, inkjet printers spray ink onto the page, so they don’t run that risk. They’re also typically built to handle larger paper sizes, if need be.

Where do you plan to put your printer?

While technology has helped make laser printers more compact in recent years, inkjet printers are still lighter and take up much less space on the whole.

So if you’re planning on doing some printing from a small desk table in your home office, or trying to make the most of what little space you have, an inkjet printer is the appropriate solution.

If you’re weighing the benefits of a laser printer vs inkjet, just know that there’s a lot to consider. Again, one isn’t generally “better” than the other — it’s all about equipping yourself appropriately based on what you need to do. If you’re still stuck and need some answers, don’t worry! Tri-Copy is here to help.

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