Inkjet and laser printers are very different in how they work. Inkjet uses liquid inks - between four and 12 of them - to print photos, artwork, text, and graphics. A laser printer uses dry toner - a very very fine powder of various ingredients - heated and then deposited onto paper. Laser printers usually have between one to four toner colors.
Neither printing technique requires special paper to work. The key is how well they work on different types of printing paper.
The key requirement is a smooth surface. Specific coatings on the paper are not required nor are they prohibited.
Inkjet ink will soak into and adhere to almost any paper surface. If the paper is uncoated, the ink will spread out as it is absorbed into the paper. That is where coating comes in. Coating is a chemical mixture that covers the surface. It traps ink in an exact location close to the surface of the paper. This results in sharp detail and brighter colors. The key point is that inkjet printers require coated paper for maximum print quality.
Do Inkjet Papers Work with Laser Printers?
Generally yes, you can use coated paper in a laser printer with some important points to remember:
- Watch for heat damage to the paper and coating damage to the drum. Some laser printers use extreme heat that can cause inkjet coating to come off the surface of the paper. It is rare but it certainly is possible.
- Laser printers require a smooth paper surface
- Do not use thick paper unless your laser has a straight-through paper path
- Matte (non-reflective) surface papers will perform the best
Don't expect your laser prints to radically improve because you are using coated inkjet paper. Toner is opaque, which means less light is reflected to your eyes. The result is muted color. Choosing glossy or satin photo paper won't make much difference.