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Which Printer is Better, an Inkjet Or Laser?

by:Ascend      2020-09-02
There are two general types of printers available on the market, laser printers and inkjets.  They're aimed at different portions of the market, but choosing which one is better for a given purpose depends largely on what you want to do with the printer itself.  There are four general requirements to consider:  Cost of acquisition, cost per page printed, colour reproduction, and printing speed.  Both types of printers have their niche. Cost of acquisition is the major hurdle in buying a laser printer, though even that is dwindling.  Many 'business inkjets' can be had for a small sum - laser printers are traditionally about 50% more expensive.  However, this is about the only advantage that inkjets have.  The most expensive laser printers can be very expensive indeed, but they're designed for high volume printing.  A lot of publishing companies are now buying high end laser printers and using them as internal printing plants. The reason why that makes sense is because of the second differentiator.  Cost per printed page.  Inkjet cartridges both cost more than toner cartridges, and produce far fewer pages per refill.  A typical laser printer cartridge for a desktop printer is good for about 4,000 pages.  A typical ink cartridge is good for about 200 pages, a factor of twenty difference.  You can get around this with remanufactured cartridges, but the remanufactured toner cartridges last longer still.  When comparing the cost per print, an inkjet can be more than twenty to thirty times as expensive per page produced.  Over the life of the printer, that can add up considerably. Colour reproduction is the undisputed area where inkjet printers hold the advantage, but that margin is getting thinner every year and new product release cycle.  This is because good inkjets can use photographic grade inks, and can use multiple ink solutions to get a richer span of colors.  They may also use archival quality inks, which will stand fast against fading.  Because of this advantage, most high end inkjet printers are used for graphic artists and quick reproduction shops, and the cost of the consumables is built into the final product.  The last area of differentiation between laser and inkjet printers is printing speed.  Lasers are faster, and due to mechanical advantages will likely remain so; they don't have to worry about over saturating the page with ink and turning the paper into mush.  Because of this advantage in speed, laser printers are the dominant technology in small businesses.  Laser printers are also likelier to have deeper paper drawers (because they're left to run without monitoring) and attachments like hole puncher and saddle stitch binders.  That said, in many cases, rather than buying the fastest laser printer, you may be better off buying two of the previous year's model - it gives you double the printing speed and the ability to run two different print jobs at once. When looking at 'which is better', the question comes down to 'how much can you spend initially' and 'is spending more money now on a laser going to pay for itself in reduced consumable costs in the next six to eight months?  Look at your needs and choose accordingly.
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