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Inkjet vs Laser Printers: What's The Difference?

There are two main types of printers: inkjet and laser. Both have their pros and cons and require specific types of printing papers

Here's a look at the differences between inkjet and laser printers to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Laser Printers

Laser printers are commonly used in business and office settings because they can print high-quality documents quickly and efficiently.

How Do Laser Printers Work?

Laser printers use a laser beam to project an image onto a drum or photoreceptor. The drum is coated with a light-sensitive material that is then charged by the laser beam. The charged areas of the drum attract toner, which is deposited on the paper.

A basic laser printer can print high-quality documents at speeds of up to 30 pages per minute. This makes them much faster than inkjet printers, which typically print around ten pages per minute.

Laser Printers Pros

Laser printers are typically faster than inkjet printers, and for document printing, they generally are more cost-effective for printing in the long run. As a rule, a laser printer is a way to go if you need to print large quantities of documents quickly.

Laser printers do not require special paper to work well. As long as the paper is relatively smooth and thin enough to feed into the machine, documents and basic graphics will look good. 

Laser Printers Cons

Laser printers are not without their cons. One downside is that better models are more expensive than office inkjet printers. Toner cartridges required for laser printers can also be pricey.

If you want to use special paper – glossy, satin, metallic, textured – most laser printers will not work all that well. This is especially true of thick and heavy paper unless the laser printer has a paper path specifically designed for that type of media.

Finally, laser printers tend to be larger and heavier than inkjet printers, making them less portable.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers are the most popular for home and small office use. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. 

Basic inkjet printers have four cartridges - one for cyan, yellow, magenta, and black. 

Many newer models have a five-cartridge system that adds a pigment black ink for document printing. 

Still, other models have up to 12 colors for photographic and fine art printing. 

Most inkjet printers have print quality of 1200 dpi or more, making them ideal for printing photos, artwork, and graphics.

They can also print on various types of paper, including glossy photo paper and card stock.

How Do Inkjet Printers Work?

Inkjet printers work by spraying tiny droplets of ink onto paper. The ink is stored in cartridges that fit into the printer.

When you print something, the printer sends a signal to the cartridges telling them how much ink to spray. The amount of ink sprayed depends on the paper you're using and the quality setting you've chosen.

Inkjet Printers Pros

Most home office inkjet printers are inexpensive, making them an excellent option for budget-conscious buyers. Inkjet printers are versatile and can be used for various printing needs, from photos to documents.

Inkjet printers can use all sorts of paper. From glossy and luster to metallic and textured fine art, you can use a wide variety of media in most inkjet printers.

Inkjet printers are easy to use and maintain, making them a good choice for those who are not tech-savvy.

Inkjet Printers Cons

They are the most popular type of printer on the market and are used in homes and businesses. However, there are some drawbacks to using an inkjet printer.

For best results, inkjet printers need coated papers, and this coating makes inkjet paper cost more than uncoated stock. In return, you get much higher print quality and photographic results. 

In addition, inks can be expensive, and if you use the printer often, they will need to be replaced often. On the plus side, many newer printers have a larger black ink cartridge dedicated to document printing, and it will lower your overall cost if you do not do much photo or graphics printing.

Another downside to using an inkjet printer is that it can be slow relative to a laser printer. A laser is probably your best bet if document print speed is your primary concern.   

Inkjet vs Laser - What to Choose?

When it comes to printing, there are two main types of printers: inkjet and laser. So, which one should you choose? It depends on your needs.

For photographs, artwork, graphic design, and basic document printing at home, inkjet printers are a clear choice. Their combination of print quality, color gamut, and paper compatibility make them ideal.

See: Will Inkjet Paper Work in My Laser Printer?

Regarding paper, inkjet printers require coated paper for the best performance, and we're talking about photo and artwork printing. For document printing, they benefit from coated paper though it is not necessary for good results.

A laser printer is probably your best choice if you are in an office or home where you print mostly documents, fliers, brochures, and the like. When it comes to paper, laser printers will also save you money. They need a paper with a smooth surface, which can be uncoated. On the downside, they usually cannot use heavier, textured, or high gloss papers.

Last updated: January 03, 2024