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5 differences between inkjet printers and laser printers


 

Are you looking to buy a new printer and don’t know where to start? We can help to guide you in the right direction. There are many important factors to consider such as print speed, connectivity options, running costs and specific print functions. 

 

However, the first choice you’ll inevitably come to is whether to purchase an inkjet printer or a laser printer. What exactly is the difference between these two types of printers? What are their advantages and disadvantages? And which printer is best suited to your needs? 

1. Difference in printing technology

The main obvious difference between inkjet and laser printers is the printing technology they use. The printers themselves are made up of different parts and therefore their printing technique differs considerably. Inkjet printers work with ink cartridges that are filled with liquid ink. The nozzles in the print head (which are either on the cartridge or the printer itself) spray the ink onto the paper, creating the text and images.

Laser printers, on the other hand, use toners, which are filled with toner powder. This powder is applied directly on to the paper by the drum with the help of static electricity.
The toner powder is then bonded to the paper by means of heat and pressure from the fuser.

2. Difference in colour ink and toner options

  • Printing in black and white

Not every type of printer has the same colour printing capabilities. It is therefore important to consider in detail whether you will need to print in colour before purchasing a printer or whether you can manage just fine with black-and-white printing. Typically, if the printer is being used for business in an office environment, a black and white printer is fine, especially if printing is only for internal use. 

  • Printing in colour

However, colour is needed even for printing a small logo on the header of a page or a coloured graph for a presentation. Colour laser models are a great option for businesses in this case, although they come with a larger price tag. For home use, an inkjet is usually the go-to choice because of the convenience of black and white and colour printing and the lower cost of the printer model. Although many inkjet printers are not as fast when it comes to print speed, they excel in printing vivid colour details, ideal for printing holiday photos at home, for example. 

3. Difference in printing texts and images

One question to ask yourself is if you need a printer that prints texts alone or a printer that can print photos and graphics. The quality needed for printing texts and photo prints differ. Inkjet printers and laser printers both have their strong points when it comes to these areas.

  • Inkjet printers and printing images 

 An inkjet printer really excels when it comes to printing photos and graphics. Inkjet printers usually have space for four different colour ink cartridges: black, cyan, magenta and yellow (commonly known as CMYK). These four colour cartridges allow the printer to capture millions of different combinations of colour tones on the paper. Some inkjet printers go beyond these four colours and offer specialised colours such as light magenta, grey, matte black or red. This allows you to achieve more accurate colour rendering. Naturally, this type of inkjet printer is excellent for printing detailed, professional quality photos with vivid colours.

  • Laser printers and printing text 

The strength of a laser printer, on the other hand, lies in its ability to print sharp text. Laser printers are less suitable for printing photos. With a few exceptions, laser printers cannot work with more than four colours, unlike many inkjet models. The print resolution of laser printers is often lower than that of inkjet printers. This high resolution is not needed to print the razor-sharp text that laser printers are famous for. With a laser printer, documents and reports are legible and presentable. This is why laser printers are ideal for use in the office or in your own home office where text alone is sufficient and speed is the priority.

4. Difference in print speed 

Are you looking for an efficient printer model with high print speeds? Then you should be considering the print speed or PPM. (pages per minute). The PPM differs per printer model and therefore it’s not possible to state with 100% certainty that an inkjet printer or a laser printer can print faster. However, in general, laser printers, especially monochrome laser printers, have a higher print speed. 

 

The print speed of inkjet printers is usually between 10 and 33 pages per minute, whereas with laser printers this number usually varies from 20 to 40 pages per minute. This is why monochrome laser printers are typically favoured in business settings over inkjet printers where speed and efficiency are key. If you’re printing more sporadically at home, this factor won’t be as much of an issue. 

5. Difference in print capacity between printer ink and toners

Another difference between inkjet and laser printers is the number of pages the device can print with one cartridge. We call this the print capacity of a cartridge. As mentioned before, an inkjet printer uses ink cartridges, while a laser printer uses toners.

 

 In general, a laser toner has a larger capacity than an ink cartridge. This is why they are usually more expensive to buy, at first glance. The advantage is that you can print for longer with a toner before you need to replace the cartridge. This is particularly useful if you are sharing the printer with multiple users or printing high volumes at home or in the office, leading to a lower cost per print overall.

Finding the right printer for your needs

There’s no one size fits all when it comes to printers as you may have gathered from the information above. However, by using the five points above as a guide and determining exactly what you expect from a printer, you can make an informed choice between an inkjet printer and a laser printer. 

 

Once you've made your choice, you can search in more detail on our inkjet printer comparison page or our laser printer comparison page. On these pages, you can compare the different options of printers, check out our recommended models and delve into more specific features such as the benefits of an automatic document feeder or the ability to print on both sides (duplex). 


Do you still have questions after reading this blog or would you like more help choosing a printer? Our customer service team are always on hand to help give you guidance and assist you with your decision.

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