Inkjet or Laser Printer: Which is More Suitable for Your Business?
In order to answer this question, let’s take a look at what the fundamental difference between the inkjet printer and the laser printer, a few good points and a few not so good points for each printer type and go from there.
What will you be using your printer for?
It’s important to have the answer to this question in order to choose the right printer for your home or office. And even if you don’t have all the answers, you can check out our blog on the top things to consider when purchasing a new printer or photocopier for some helpful hints and tips. Common mistakes when choosing a new printer will also give you further guidance and help you avoid some pitfalls that we see all the time. Here are a few scenarios to think about and this will give you a rule of thumb guide to choose from:
- If you only have an occasional use for home, an inkjet printer is fine and will do the job.
- If you print a lot of images and need a good quality output, we’d still recommend a laser printer.
- If you need high-quality photo prints, we’d suggest that you buy a dedicated photo printer that is engineered for this purpose and will focus on pigmentation, depth of tones, and can manage different paper sizes.
- If you have an office at home, a small office, a medium or large office, then a laser printer is the only option worth considering. It’s much more cost effective, durable, reliable, cheaper to run, and often has a copier and scanner built in, so it’s multi-functional which is what every office needs and avoid you having to have three separate devices.
So here’s a little bit more information on the inkjet and the laser printer to qualify the recommendations and suggestions made above.
Inkjet Printers – this type of printer uses ink. It’s good for low volume usage and is often used for home offices. These printers are generally cheaper, small machines that people tend to buy from e-commerce websites or through retail shops. They are versatile machines that will print text and photos or high-quality images, so hence the appeal to the home user. However, beware, they tend to have high running costs or what we term, a high total cost of ownership. The photo quality is good for home use, but again if it’s for professional use, then we’d certainly suggest investing in a proper photo inkjet printer.
Something else to note with Inkjet printers is that they have to be used regularly or else the ink can dry up. The printers themselves can be quite cheap to buy, but the cartridges only last a few hundred pages, so there is a much higher frequency to change them and the lifespan of an inkjet printer is about 3 years.
How does the inkjet printer work?
Inkjet printers spray liquid ink through microscopic nozzles onto paper; sometimes this can smudge, but a lot of this can be down to the paper quality also.
What speeds do inkjet printers work to?
Inkjet printers often work to 16 pages per minute or ppm.
The Good Points:
- Small and light printers that are good for occasional home or light office printing. Good for when there is little space on hand!
- Print great quality photos and images with colour depth an overall better quality than on a laser printer.
- Cost for buying the inkjet machine is not so onerous.
- Are ready to print when switched on, with no warm-up time.
- Can adapt to a variety of paper sizes and types.
The Not So Good Points:
- Ink is expensive for regular users and on top of that, there’s the hassle factor of refilling frequently and having to go out and buy the cartridges.
- Slow to print out documents.
- Low capacity trays – generally tend to hold anywhere from 50-100 sheets, so again for any time of volume, there’s a continuously paper replacement needed, so there’s no possibility to just press go on a print job and walk away.
Laser Printers – this type of printer uses toner. A laser printer is considered to be the workhorse of the office because of its capability to quickly print large amounts of documents – gives you a little clue also about the Highline Office Technology logo!
Printing with these machines offers you a lower cost per page, faster print speeds and overall a low total cost of ownership. For this reason, this type of machine is most prevalent in office environments, where volume and speed are key attributes. Whether it’s home printing or office printing, if usage is regular and for large volumes of print, then we’d definitely recommend investing in a laser printer.
A small printer will often be a copier and scanner also, so you get an ‘all-in-one’ option for a much better price and it will be more durable. We call this solution an MFD or multifunctional device. It’s possible to buy machines outright, but again, depending on the use, speed and volume, you might be better considering a Managed Print Solution, i.e. a bundle price per month that covers your toners, maintenance, service and labour, especially critical for offices that can’t afford any downtime.
Laser printers can be monochrome, i.e. black and white machines only or they can be colour laser printers. The laser printer toners tend to last from 5,000 copies upwards, depending on the toner and size of the machine, i.e. if it’s an A4 or A3 printer, so there is a lot more bang for your buck. The initial outlay for the machine might be higher than the inkjet machine, but your cost per page to print is significantly lower, plus there is the factor of time and a lot less hassle involved in having to change out the toners.
How does the laser printer work?
Laser printers have a drum unit that fuses toner powder onto paper with heat. The great thing about laser printers is that the toner doesn’t dry up if unused and you also get a much higher yield from the toner than you would with an ink cartridge, so no more having to deal with faded print copies, bad pigmentation or simply no ink at all!
What speeds do laser printers work to?
Laser printers work to a variety of speeds and this depends on the machine that you get. Most efficient Olivetti machines tend to operate at a basic level of 31 or 33 ppms, but can go much higher for high volume print offices. Typically the laser printer will last 5 years or more, although it is recommended to change them or upgrade after 5 years, as technology is moving so quickly.
The toner for the laser printer is undoubtedly more expensive than the inkjet cartridge, but don’t forget, you won’t need to change it as often, as it offers anywhere from 6 times upwards the amount of prints and therefore is far more economical and reduces your cost of print per page.
It’s worth noting also that you can buy OEM or compatible cartridges – the latter being a cheaper alternative to the manufacturer’s cartridge. That said, be careful of your warranty on your machine, particularly if you have a managed print service, as using a compatible cartridge may invalidate your warranty.
The Good Points:
- Laser printers are significantly faster than inkjet printers. 31 ppm up to 100 ppm. For any high volume user, this will be a big consideration.
- With laser printers, you can get multiple paper trays, so you could have the capacity for 350 sheets, 850 sheets or even 3500 sheets if required and depending on the type of machine that you choose. Finishers can also be supplied to collate and staple documents or booklets.
- They excel at text documents and are also good for decent quality images.
- Less frequent changing of toners, depending on usage, thereby reducing the hassle factor.
- Although the toner seems more expensive, the output and number of pages that can be printed from a toner are so much higher in comparison to the inkjet printer and as a result, the cost per page to print is much lower.
- Managed Print Solutions are available that cover the leasing of the machine, all toner, maintenance and labour.
The Not So Good Stuff:
- The initial cost of buying the laser print, be it monochrome or colour, is higher than the inkjet printer.
- Not ideal for high-resolution images or photos.
- Not as compact and as small as the inkjet printers, but there are some good models out there, e.g. the MF 3301 or the MF 3100.
- Laser printers can’t handle the same variety of paper that inkjets can.
Ultimately, the final choice lies in understanding what you need to print, e.g. is it more text and some images, or photos and high-resolution images. Speed is important to consider and volume of print is critical to your decision also. If you only need occasional use, then an inkjet printer is fine, but if you need speed, durability, multi-functional devices, and print a large volume of documents, then the laser printer is by far the best option.