Inkjet vs. laser printers: Which one is best for your business?

Inkjet vs. laser printers: Which one is best for your business?

If you run a small business, it's important to choose the right printer for your needs. Currently, there are two available options: laser printers and inkjet printers. In this blog, we will discuss their differences and the advantages of using one over the other, and how to choose which is best for your business

Inkjet and laser printers: An introduction

Before we discuss the pros and cons of inkjet and laser printers, it’s important to know the basics first.

  • Inkjet printers: Inkjet printers place tiny ink droplets onto a printing material like paper or fabric as it passes through the machine. Inkjet printers produce high-quality and high-resolution photos with vibrant colors.
  • Laser printers: These printers trace an image or document onto an electromagnetic canvas, then toner cartridges release electrically charged toner particles onto the traced image. The particles are then transferred and bonded onto a printing material such as paper. These printers are typically preferred by large businesses and busy offices with high print volumes.

Related article: What is digital printing, and what are its benefits for your business?

What's the difference between inkjet and laser printers?

Inkjet and laser printers differ based on the following factors:

1. Upfront costs

Inkjet printers are available for as low as $100 because they are simpler and less expensive to manufacture than laser printers. On the other hand, laser printers normally cost around $200 since they feature components like imaging and fuser units.

2. Printing costs

Ink and toner make up a majority of the printing costs. For inkjet printers, black-and-white printouts usually cost 5 to 10 cents per page, while colored ones will run around 15 to 25 cents per page. These cover the costs of the ink, toner, and paper consumed in the printing process.

New inkjet printing technologies also aim to reduce ink costs by replacing single-use plastic cartridges with refillable tanks and cost-efficient ink bottles. In theory, this will reduce printing costs to less than a cent per page.

Meanwhile, laser printer toner cartridges are more expensive than ink cartridges upfront. However, they tend to be less expensive than ink cartridges on a per-page basis, as a single toner cartridge can print hundreds of pages and exceed the print yields offered on inkjet printers. As a result, black-and-white printing on laser printers usually costs below 5 cents per page, while color printing is around 15 cents.

Toner cartridges also have a longer shelf life because they come in powder form whereas ink cartridges may dry out if not used frequently or stored properly.

3. Print quality

Because it's easier to reproduce complex color combinations on inkjet printers, they're better for printing high-quality images.

In contrast, laser printers cannot produce colored images that are as vibrant as those produced by inkjet printers. Even laser printers that support higher-quality color for photo printing require specialized laser printer-ready photo paper, making them less convenient and costly than inkjet printers, which use standard photo paper.

However, laser printers can print text better, offering crisp, clear letterforms that can't be matched by most inkjets. While inkjet printouts are legible, they will often bleed slightly, and individual letters are not as sharp when closely examined.

What’s more, ink tends to smear, so documents can smudge easily. Because laser printers use a heat-transfer method, the printout becomes smudge-proof the moment it comes out of the printer.

4. Printer size

Inkjet printers are usually smaller and lighter, making them ideal for small offices. Modern inkjets even have features like printheads built into the ink cartridge to make them more compact. Laser printers, on the other hand, are generally bigger and heavier, as they contain more internal components.

Which printer is for you?

The answer depends on how often you'll be using your printer and what you'll be using it for. If you only print occasionally, inkjet printers make more sense. While ink will cost more on a per-page basis, ink refills are cheaper than toner. It’s also the better option for printing photos. Laser printers, meanwhile, are ideal if you print a lot of text-heavy pages and want to save more money.

If you need more help determining the right type of digital printer for your business, Complete Document Solutions is here to help. We can also help you set it up and ensure that you get the most out of your investment. Talk to us today to learn more.


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