Inkjet or Laser Printer? Toner or Ink? Here's What You Need to Know
September 13, 2019
If you're running a small business, your printed materials should look clean and professional, which means you'll need the right printer. You have two options: inkjet printers that print with ink, or laser printers that print with toner. Read on to learn more about how these compare.
How do they work?
Once you hit “print,” your document is sent to the printer via a process far too involved to get into here. But suffice it to say, it works.
If it’s an inkjet printer, tiny jets spray droplets of ink from the cartridges to create text and images. Your inkjet printer typically holds four colors of ink— cyan (blue), magenta (a red hue), yellow and black, which combine to make different colors.
With a laser printer, the technology is similar to a photocopy machine. There are many steps that bring the document to life, but the short version is that a laser beam (yep, that’s where it gets its name), scans back and forth across a drum inside the printer, which builds up a pattern of static electricity. That static electricity attracts powdered ink called toner onto the page. Then, just like in a photocopier, a fuser unit bonds the toner to the paper.
What do they cost?
One clear decision point is always the cost. And for that, you probably will look at the price of the printer—they come at a wide variety of price points, depending on how much power you need and also if you want other devices, like a scanner and copier, integrated.
The upfront cost is a good place to start, but you also want to take into account your printing practices, and how much the replacement ink and/or toner will cost.
Which should I use?
You’ll want to take into account how productive each type will be in your office setting. When you’re considering speed, the laser printer is your workhorse. It will typically produce 20 to 30 pages per minute, compared with inkjet printers’ slightly lower output, that hovers around the mid-teens to low-20s.
For image quality, laser printers are best used for one color, while inkjet printers—especially designed for images—will do well with the various colors.
And of course, you don’t want to forget maintenance. Inkjets are pretty easy; you just pop in new color cartridges when you need them—either the all-in-one variety or separate single ink cartridges. With a laser printer, you might need to fuss a bit more; sometimes you’ll need new rollers when the fuser assemblies have marks or scratches, or a new fuser unit; typically your machine will tell you with an error message when it’s time to take action. Then of course, you’ll need to replace the toner.
And, speaking of error messages and replacements, may we suggest a handy service that will help you avoid the “ink or toner low” message just when you have a proposal due? By joining Office Depot’s subscription service, you’ll never run out of ink or toner at that crucial moment!
There are pros and cons to both inkjet printers and laser printers—and certainly one size doesn’t fit all. By figuring out your printing behaviors and needs, you can determine which one is best for your office.
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared in LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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