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Inkjet vs Laser Printers: All You Need To Know

Let us imagine ourselves to be teleported to about 10 years into the past. If you ask anybody this question – “Which is better? Inkjet or Laser Printers?” The answer will be unanimous and for a good reason. Laser printers were the hands-down winner on any debate due to its portability, cost-effectiveness and overall usability. Fortunately for Inkjet lovers, Inkjet printers are slowly creeping back into the spotlight with modern technology. Will Inkjet printers claim the coveted “best printer technology” award from the Laser printers?

A Brief History: Which Came First?

Contrary to popular belief, laser printers were invented first and introduced to the public earlier compared to inkjets. In fact, laser printing technology was invented five years earlier than inkjets by a scientist working for Xerox named Gary Starkweather on the year 1971. What started as big, bulky and impractical machines revolutionized into compact silent machines in modern times. Inkjets on the other hand, were first introduced as industrial-class printers able to handle large printing jobs.

Laser Printers: Burning a Mark in Modern Printing


Laser printing technology is a techy guy’s fantasy printing technology. Laser printing involves laser, a selenium coated drum and lenses and mirrors. In a nutshell, it is almost like it is burning powdered toner into the paper. This ensures crisp texts that won’t bleed. When it comes to characters, fine lines and minor graphics, laser printers can print fast and dead accurate.

Sadly, one of the main problems that plague laser printers lie on how printing is done and severely limits its capability as an all around printer. Due to the technology that powers laser printers, the use of heat sensitive types of printing material is impossible.

One of the main selling points of laser printers some years ago was the fact that they are relatively cheaper than inkjets. These days, this large gap is slowly shrinking. Laser printers are well known to be mediocre when it comes to color printing. Most offices and small businesses opt to use laser printers for monochromatic printing. For small printing jobs, the cost of owning a laser printer is acceptable. Once you get past a certain point where you print 25,000 pages annually, the whole price dynamics change.

Inkjet Printers: Fusing Creativity and Technology

Unlike laser printing which heats toner to blend into the paper, inkjet printing just uses liquid ink and lets it get absorbed into the printing material. This technology is excellent for printing color documents. When talking about pictures, inkjet rules.

One of the many problems with inkjet printers is that the results, especially with texts and characters, bleed a lot and are very susceptible to water damage. Printing is also slower compared to laser printers even though modern technology already did its share to speed it up. Inkjet printers are also much smaller and compact compared to laser printers.

Inkjet printers are much cheaper to buy compared to laser printers. Before, the cartridges and ink for inkjet printers cost a fortune. Nowadays, with the growth of 3rd party providers, ink cartridges and the ink itself won’t cost you so much compared to before.

Conclusion: The Print Off

So which one is better? Well, it really depends on what you need. All you have to do is to figure out what you usually print and check which type of printer works best.

If you print rarely (around 10-20 pages a month) then a low-cost inkjet printer will do the job. Don’t always settle for an old one though. There are a lot of new low-cost inkjet printers available out there that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

If you print large quantities then you should think about getting a monochromatic laser printer or business class inkjet printer. If your printing is text dominated then the monochromatic laser printer is the best solution to your problem. If you have constant need for color printing (for letterheads, pictures, brochures) then it will be better to invest on a business class inkjet printer. A color laser printer is also a viable option but you just need to be aware of its limitations in color printing.

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Rogier van Evans of Inktweb.nl, an online store selling cartridges, toners and other printing supplies. A big lover of technology, start-ups and debating on Android vs Apple.

5 Comments

  1. Hey Rogier,
    Nice post and Thanks for sharing this post. For me, Inkjet printer will be more suitable as I print only few pages in a month but laser printer is best if we most of time use printer.

  2. In the 21st century we all should forget about both; in the age of 3D printing, letter also can be 3D printed to get some really awesome typography stuff with you can attract your people! Check out my self-designed and 3D printed cards with some generative 3D patterns on my blog:

  3. I am using HP All in One printer and it is just great for scanning and printing images. But consumes a pretty good amount of ink and if the picture is coloured, then it takes 30 seconds to 1 minute to dry.

  4. I’ve always wondered the difference between the two. It looks like I’ll stick with inkjet though, I think it best fits my needs.

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