What’s the difference between laser printers and inkjet printers?

inkjet versus laser printer

Before choosing the right office printer, it’s important to know the difference between inkjet and laser printers. Here’s our beginner’s guide to understanding this printing technology.

Inkjet printing uses water-based ink that comes in the form of a pigments or dyes. Inkjet can be a good choice for personal use or small offices with a low output. The up-front cost is usually cheap, but ongoing purchasing of high-priced and low-yield ink can quickly add up.

Laser printers on the other hand, use toner cartridges with a fine powder and a heated fuser to permanently bind the powder to the paper. It’s better suited for black printing. Also worth noting that should the power in the cartridge spill, it’s less messy than inkjet ink.

Printing speed
Nothing on the consumer market today beats laser printing for black and white text pages. You can expect upwards of 85 pages per minute, compared to inkjet models with a much slower speed.

Machine size
If you have a smaller office, or a home office, an inkjet printer may be a better choice because it is often a smaller unit. Laser printers are typically larger, with a wider range of options.

Always check the specifications for the sizes and materials you will need to print. Inkjets are sometimes used for printing on textured paper, stationery, photo paper, window envelopes, or even some fabrics. Laser printers are best for standard paper but cannot work with heat-sensitive materials.

Multi-function capability
Both technologies can be found in multi-function machines to support all your scanning, copying, and printing needs in one unit. Most also offer networking capabilities so you can connect it to your home or office network, and some even have remote printing.

For basic, occasional printing, inkjet offers the most affordability, and laser printers are most cost-effective for frequent use. It’s important to factor in costs to replace ink or laser cartridges as well as maintenance and repair costs. Inkjet printers need more regular use and cleaning to prevent the ink drying or build-up. You may find it’s more cost effective to completely replace an inkjet printer, rather than replace single cartridges, though the new unit will usually just come with a “starter” toner. Also consider the environmental impact of regularly disposing of equipment.

When choosing the technology for your office printer, knowing the difference between inkjet and laser printers can help you make an educated choice that will provide you with the best overall value for your use. To further discuss your replacement options for inkjet and laser printers in your office, contact Steelhead to find out more.