InkJet or Laser?

We get asked all the time, "Paper or plastic?

Wait, no -- wrong blog.

"Which is better, a laser printer or an ink jet printer?"

The answer is: Yes.

Both technologies have advantages and disadvantages, so it all depends on what you want to print. And more importantly, what you print the most.

First, let's review the technologies:

Inkjet printers create images by pressurizing a tiny bit of liquid ink, causing a pressure bubble to form (which is why early inkjet printers were called "Bubble Jet" by Canon). This microscopic bit of ink is directed through a precision head, and the tiny, fine droplets are sprayed onto the paper.

A laser printer doesn't write directly to the paper. Instead, the image is projected, by a laser, onto a metal drum, which is electrostatically charged. The drum is then exposed to powdered toner, which only "sticks" to the parts of the drum that have been exposed to the laser. The drum is heated up, and the image is formed by pressing the drum against the paper.

Inkjet printers exist on every end of the spectrum, from dirt-cheap consumer models found at discount stores, to specialized, professional models such as Canon's wide-format imagePROGRAF series. On the lower-end, inkjet printers are great at producing photographic quality images, especially when using glossy paper. They are quiet, do not require any warmup time, and the ink replacement is fast and easy. Inkjets are often a great choice for printing on media besides paper, such as iron-on transfers and CD/DVD labels.

On the downside, that ink, especially in consumer grade models, can be outrageously expensive. As we discussed in an earlier post, the ink in your printer is almost certainly the most expensive liquid you'll ever own. Inkjet printer heads can get clogged up, especially if they aren't used regularly; a head cleaning can take a significant amount of time and ink. For most uses, inkjet printers are considerably slower than laser printers.

Until recently, laser printers were strictly black and white. Since they offered crisp text, high speed and large supplies of consumables (toner), they were the de facto choice for most offices. Color lasers are becoming more affordable, and are now common in most business environments. For photographs, their image quality rarely competes with comparable inkjet printers, although they remain considerably faster.

While toner spills are rare with modern laser printers, when they do occur, they can be pretty messy. Laser printers require heat to operate, so they need time to "warm up" before printing the first document.

So the answer to the "which is better" question boils down to a new series of questions: What are your needs? How many documents will you be printing per month? Do you need photographic quality? How many people will be printing at the same time? And a lot of other questions that can have a dramatic effect on your budget.

Fortunately, this is what Ameritel's sales professionals live and breathe, every day. We can match a model or even an entire solution to your specific needs, and we back it up with the best support in the region. Let us make your life a little easier -- call us today.

Categories: Printers