Inkjet Printer vs. Laser Printer: Which Printer Should You Purchase?

When you’re in the market for any type of printer, choosing which type you’ll purchase is a tough decision. Each has its pros and cons but it can be hard to understand them when you don’t know what the technical jargon means. If you’re a bit confused by the technicalities of inkjet and laser printers, all you need to do is break down their features bit by bit.

Inkjet and laser printers are distinct devices, suited for different needs and environments. Ultimately, your choice between the two types comes down to how often you print, what you print, and what your budget is.

Let’s take a look at how inkjet and laser printers work and the key differences between the two. 

What Is an Inkjet Printer?

What is an Inkjet Printer

An inkjet printer works by spraying microscopic droplets of ink on paper. These printers can print text documents in black and white,  as well as high-quality images in color. They’re usually smaller, more compact, and cheaper than laser printers. If you are in the market for a printer for your home, this is the type of printer you should purchase. 

An inkjet printer uses ink cartridges to print. This is how it works:

  1. It receives and processes a document or image from a device.
  2. The printer passes a piece of paper under small nozzles that are positioned throughout the printer and spray ink droplets onto the paper. There are hundreds of tiny nozzles in a single printer that release thousands of ink droplets. They’re attached to the printhead, which moves left and right across the paper to create new characters.
  3. Electricity from the printer heats its nozzles, releasing the ink droplets. That heat causes the ink to expand through the nozzles and into bubbles, until they land onto the paper. 
  4. As the ink bubbles collapse onto the paper, they create tiny vacuums that draw more ink into the nozzles from the ink cartridge. This gets it ready to release the next droplets.
  5. This process happens for many droplets to form just a single character. 

Ink Droplets on Paper

All of these steps happen in seconds within compact inkjet printers. While the process is efficient and effective for many types of printing projects, you may find that you need a printer with a larger capacity and even faster mechanics. That’s where laser printers come into play.

What Is a Laser Printer?

Despite the name, these printers mainly use static electricity, to get the text and image from a device onto a piece of paper. A laser printer works by strategically manipulating the negative and positive charges of static electricity to attach toner to sheets of paper. These printers typically cost more than inkjet printers upfront and use toner cartridges, rather than ink cartridges, that are a bit pricier. However, they can prove to be the more economical option in the long-run because of their faster print speeds and overall lower cost per page.

Ink and Toner Electrical Charges

This is how a laser printer works:

  1. The printer processes a document or image from an electronic device
  2. It uses high-voltage circuits to give electrical charges to some of its components. One of these components is the photoreceptor drum, which is a revolving drum that receives a positive electric charge.
  3. The printer beams a laser against a mirror, which reflects the laser onto the photoreceptor drum. As the laser beams, the mirror moves so that it “draws” the to-be-printed image on the photoreceptor drum. 
  4. Positive charges are replaced by negative charges wherever the laser hits the photoreceptor drum. Essentially, the mirror sketches a negatively-charged shape onto a positively-charged canvas.
  5. The printer releases positively-charged toner onto the drum. The toner sticks onto the negatively-charged parts of the drum that the laser has outlined, basically coloring within the lines that the laser has made.
  6. The printer rolls a sheet of paper through and gives it a powerful negative charge. As it passes the drum, the paper’s negative charge pulls toner grains from the drum onto the paper and those grains sit on the paper’s surface. 
  7. The printer removes the paper’s electric charge and passes it through hot rollers that use pressure and heat to fuse the grains into the paper.

Now that you know how each type of printer works, you can better understand why they are suited for different needs. Let’s dive into those needs and how you can tell which type of printer you should purchase.

The Best Uses for Inkjet Printers

Best Use for Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printers are the more popular choice for home printers that you use for occasional printing. They’re great for when you need to regularly print text documents at home and are also the preferred option for printing high-quality color images. Inkjet printers are better at blending colors and have a better tonal variety. They can also print on many different types of paper, including glossy paper.

Laser printers can’t print on glossy paper because it is sensitive to heat, making them less well-suited for printing images. 

As inkjet printers don’t print as quickly as laser printers and their trays don’t hold as much paper as their counterparts, they are the recommended option for people who print less frequently or who print just a few pages at a time. 

The Best Uses for Laser Printers

Perhaps the most common use for laser printers is printing high volumes of black and white documents. They’re well-suited for business and office environments where you regularly need printed documents and have the space to house the larger machines. 

Laser printers can print much faster than inkjet printers and most of them have high-capacity paper trays, allowing them to print more pages at a given time. They’re also built to withstand printing thousands of pages each month without showing wear and tear. This makes laser printers a great investment for anyone who needs to print large quantities of black and white documents often.

How Do They Differ in Printing Quality?

Printing Quality

The print quality will mostly depend on the output you need. If you’re a photographer or designer looking to print gallery-quality photos, you should invest in a professional photo inkjet printer. These produce high resolution images, while the images that laser printers produce are not as sharp. 

However, advancements in laser printer technology have allowed them to produce colored photos that are more impressive than in the past.

Color laser printers can print medium-quality colored images and you can still experience the laser printers’ benefits of endurance, reliability, and cost-savings. Just keep in mind that inkjet printers still win over their laser counterparts when it comes to high-resolution images. The images that come from inkjet printers have incredible color tones and depth, giving the photos a professional look.

How Do They Differ in Cost?

Ink vs Toner Printer Costs

There are a few different factors that go into the price of printers because you need to account for the cost of the machine, its ink cartridges or toner cartridges, and its upkeep. Inkjet printers have a lower price because they have an average life span of three years while laser printers have a lifespan of at least five years.

If you’re shopping around for printers, be wary of buying a cheap inkjet printer, as it may have a high cost per page, meaning that you need to replace the ink cartridges more often.

The prices between ink cartridges and toner cartridges will also vary significantly. Since laser printer cartridges print more pages than inkjet cartridges, they tend to cost more.

However, laser printers have a lower cost per page because they can print more and you need to replace the cartridges less frequently. 

Rely on Ink Genie for Your Ink Cartridge Needs

Printer Cartridge Choices

Whether you’re shopping for ink cartridges or toner cartridges, check out our inventory of cartridges at Ink Genie. We offer a wide selection of Genuine / OEM ink and toner cartridges for various brands and types of printers. Our cartridges are high-quality but affordable, allowing you to stay within your budget without sacrificing your printing standards.

If you’re ready to invest in the right printer for your needs, remember to make the right choice for your cartridges and turn to Ink Genie. Contact us today to learn more about our ink and toner products and how we can help you.