Typically, there are two types of printers for home and office use – inkjet printers and laser printers. Both the printers differ in the technologies they use and thus, have their strengths and weaknesses. If you are looking at buying a printer, it is important to consider the type and volume of the printing you would need to do. In this article, we will explain the difference between the technologies of inkjet and laser printers, and how those differences impact the performances of the printers to help you make the right choice. 

Technology

In Inkjet printers, dye- or pigment-based liquid ink is transferred to the paper in microscopic amounts using dozens of nozzles in the printer. The ink dries off on the paper and thus, we get high-quality text and images. 

Laser printers use toner powder instead of liquid ink. In a laser printer, a laser beam “draws” the processed image on a photoreceptor drum. The toner is then released into the drum and it fills in the image with colour. When paper is rolled through the printer, the image on the drum gets transferred to the paper with the help of electrostatic charge. 

Differences Between Performance 

Inkjet vs Laser

Since inkjet lasers use dye- and pigment-based inks, they do a good job at bringing out the colors of images. However, the use of liquid ink also means that colors may bleed out and the images may get smudged. Thus, inkjet images have to be handled with care immediately after they have been printed.

Laser printers do not offer the same level of quality in images; they need special photo paper for printing relatively high quality images. However, laser printers are great at printing documents since they are capable of producing sharp, well-defined letters. Also, since these images use powdered toner, so drying the prints is not a problem. 

In a nutshell, for printing high-resolution images, inkjet printers are preferable, and for documents, laser printers are more suitable. 

Apart from printing quality, the speed and volume of printing also need to be considered. Laser printers are capable of printing a higher number of pages more efficiently than inkjet printers. Therefore, if you need high volume of work, then go for a laser printer. 

Costs

Since inkjet printers utilize simpler technology, they are less expensive than laser printers. However, their cost per page for printing is significantly higher than that of laser printers as their ink cartridges are quite expensive. Monochrome printing costs around 5 to 10 cents per page, whereas color printing may cost 15 to 25 cents a page. Also, the ink cartridges finish quickly and need to be replaced. If you are not using your printer for prolonged periods of time, it is likely that the ink may dry out and become useless. Thus, it is important to keep using the printer regularly to prevent the ink from drying out. 

Laser printers, on the other hand, cost more inkjet printers as their technology is complex but their cost per page for printing is cheaper. A good quality laser printer will cost much less than 5 cents for printing a monochrome page, and a colored print will cost around 15 cents on average. Therefore, inkjet printers, though they require less initial investment, are more expensive in the long run whereas laser printers are more cost-effective for high volume use in daily life. 

Costs of the printers also vary depending on the features they offer. Nowadays, printers often come with copying, scanning and faxing facilities. These comprehensive printers are more expensive than printers which offer only a single service. 

So, Which Printer Should You Buy?

Your choice of a printer will depend on what you need it for. HP, Canon, Brother and Epson are among the top brands for printers and they all offer different models with a wide variety of features. 

If you need to buy a printer for occasional personal use at home, then a monochrome laser printer is a good buy. Canon imageCLASS MF247dw, HP Laserjet Pro M15w, Kyocera Ecosys P3155dn and Brother HL-L5100DN are among the best printers for use at home.

If you are a photographer or graphic designer, you might want a colour inkjet printer for printing high-resolution images. Canon Pixma Pro-100, Epson Expression Photo XP-970, Epson SureColor SC-P800 and Canon IP8720 are well-suited for such uses.  

If you want a printer for high volume use at an educational institution or a busy office, then fast, high-volume laser printers are preferable. They should be able to print at least 25 pages per minute. Brother HL-L9310CDW, Brother MFC-L3770CDW, and Lexmark MC2535adwe are well-known for their printing speed. 

Additionally, you should check for features such as the type of connection that printers use. Printers that can connect to Wifi, Ethernet and USB are the most suitable for high-volume places such as offices. 

Furthermore, you should check the cost per page of printing. The most effective printers can cost as low as a cent for a black and white page!

Another thing to keep in mind is that the cartridges you buy should be compatible with your printer. For example, for brother models DCP-L2540DW, HL-L2380DW, MFC-L2700DW, a Brother TN660 Toner Black Compatible Cartridge, High Yield – 2-Pack cartridge is the most suitable. A toner drum from another company will not work with these printers. 

Another important thing you need to consider is the printer’s monthly duty cycle, that is, the number of pages a printer will print without failing. For use at home, a printer with a monthly duty of 5000 pages is likely to be enough, but for schools and offices with high volumes, go for printers that offer duty cycles of 20,000 and upwards. Always make sure that you buy a printer which has a duty cycle of more pages than you need to print per month.