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The Difference Between Inkjet and Laser Printers Skip to main content


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The Difference Between Inkjet and Laser Printers

Tue Oct 10, 2023 | Ameritel Corporation

When buying a printer, the age-old debate is always inkjet printers vs laser printers. Go on any forum online about what printer to buy, and you’ll inevitably see this crop up. While some of the responses are thoughtful and offer sage guidance, many don’t account for the needs of businesses. 

This is especially true for small businesses, whose main concern will be working productively while managing to stay under budget. In these instances, knowing the difference between laser vs inkjet quality can practically be a make-or-break situation. The more you can print, the faster you can serve your clients.

So then what printer is better for your business? To help you make the best decision, we’ve put together this guide on the differences between the two, including quality, cost-per-page, supplies, and device cost. Here are the key differences between a laser printer and an inkjet printer. 

How Laser Printers and Inkjet Printers Work

These devices get their names from the methods they use to transfer text and images onto paper. Laser printers use lasers, and inkjets use—you guessed it!—ink. From the parts found inside that work to get the image onto paper, to the supplies they use to do it, these devices couldn’t be more different. These differences also cause fluctuations in device cost, supply cost, and the overall productivity of your team.

How they work is fairly simple when you break it down. The key difference between them is that laser printers melt down toner powder from a drum onto a paper while inkjets spray ink onto the paper via ink cartridges. Simple right? So why all the differences and debate?

Well, most of it comes down to the initial cost. Laser printers tend to be more expensive than inkjets during the initial purchase of the device. The lower cost of an inkjet tends to be more tempting for buyers, especially for small business owners. But the upfront cost shouldn’t be the only thing you consider, as you could be making a costlier investment than you intend to.

Cost Variations: Print Devices vs Their Supplies

Just as we mentioned, the initial upfront cost of the device can often distract people during the decision-making process. Inkjets do tend to save you money initially, but if used incorrectly, they can become increasingly more expensive to maintain. The lower the cost of the device, the more likely it is that supplies will be costly.

Inkjets and laser printers don’t use the same supplies, with inkjets requiring more expensive inks. Ink also tends to run out quicker, with the cartridges not yielding nearly as many prints as a laser printer’s toner does. There are also several inks you’ll need to purchase, with the various colors that will run out at different rates.

A quick solution to this is to buy ink in bulk, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, ink also dries out when it’s not in use. When you choose to buy supplies in bulk you risk “flushing money down the drain” should the cartridges dry out.

That’s where laser printers can actually save you money. The cost of toner ends up being cheaper long-term, as the toner won’t run the risk of drying out and can print more documents before needing to be replaced.

Laser printer toner supplies

On average, your ink cartridge will produce anywhere from 250 to 300 pages, depending on the complexity of what you’re printing. In contrast, toner can print between 2,500 to 3,000 pages. To get a better idea of how much your specific device’s supplies are costing you in the future, look at the cost per page.

Cost per page is determined by dividing the cartridge price by the number of pages it can produce. From there you’ll get a more exact number on the cost of supplies for your device. By doing this, you’re likely going to see that laser printers end up costing less long-term, as they can print substantially more before their toner needs to be replaced.

While saving money is great, what if the printer can’t do what you need it to? That’s where the final factor of consideration comes in…. 

The Quality of Prints for a Laser vs Inkjet Printer

Last but not least to think about is what you’ll be printing with your new device. If you’re a small business, you may be focusing on printing high volumes at lower prices. If that’s the case, then you’ll definitely want to choose a laser printer. They can yield more documents at quicker speeds. They’re great for text-heavy documents, printing high-quality black and white text.

Laser printers are great for:

Opposite to this is the inkjet, which can produce higher-quality pictures. Looking to bring a pop of color to your documents? Then you’ll definitely want to choose an inkjet. They are the go-to if you want to have vivid colors throughout your documents. If you’re going to be using the printer frequently, too, then you won’t have to worry as much about the ink drying out. This can make it a great cost-saving choice for home offices.

Woman at office printing quality color images with an inkjet printerInkjet printers are great for:

Knowing the types of documents you’re going to be printing is an important final step in deciding your future device. While those working in government are more likely to need text documents, for example, teachers might want more colorful handouts or brochures.

If after considering these factors you still have questions about what device is right for you, consider reaching out to a print expert.

Our team at Ameritel has knowledge working with various organizations and team leaders. We can help you find the perfect printer for your needs that doesn’t break your budget. Reach out today to learn more! 

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