Inkjet printers are compact, use less power and are extremely versatile. Laser printers are more expensive upfront, but they are more reliable, easier to maintain and the printing quality is much higher than the injet printers.
There are two types of inkjet printing: continuous (CIJ) and drop-on demand (DOD). CIJ is used for commercial purposes, such as marking packaging. Most consumer printers use either thermal DOD, in which the ink is heated in the cartridge, or piezoelectric DOD, which uses pressure. Piezoelectric DOD is more expensive, but can print at higher speeds.
Most laser printers only print in black and white. They are available as small, personal printers, as office printers (which are larger and print faster), as workgroup printers (which are designed to be free-standing printers that are shared by many computers on a network), and production printers, which are designed to run continuously and can print 75,000 sheets a day. Color laser printers are also available, but they are significantly more expensive. A range of production laser printers produced by Xerox also offer Highlight Color, which provide the ability to print black and one other color.
Inkjet printers spray liquid ink onto paper through microscopic nozzles, while laser printers use fine powder, called toner, and a heated fuser.
Budget inkjet printers cost around $130, while budget laser printers, which are only capable of printing in black and white, cost around $60. The cost-per-page of printing using an inkjet printer is 20c for color pages, or 4-5c for black and white. The cost per page for a laser printer is 6c for black and white printing. More expensive laser printers have a lower cost per page, but may have additional costs when compared to inkjets, such as the need for a new fuser cartridge.
Laser printing is undoubtedly the fastest option for black and white printing, with budget, low-end laser printers able to produce 20 pages per minute. Most budget inkjet printers print 6 pages per minute.
For normal print sizes, black and white print quality is similar for both laser and inkjet printers. However, lasers are better at printing smaller fonts. Inkjets provide superior color printing with subtle color gradation, while laser printers can lead to color banding.
Color vs Black and White Options
The most common laser printers only print in black and white. Color laser printers exist, but they are bulky and expensive, and not usually suitable for use at home or in a small office.
Modern inkjet printers can use up to 9 color cartridges to create accurate photographic images. Inkjet printing can be used on a wider range of papers, including high gloss photo paper, vinyls and self adhesive papers, as well as super heavy paper. However, the ink is not waterproof.
Laser printers sometimes come with other office features built in, such as scanning and faxing. Their input trays can hold as many as 3800 sheets of paper, compared to a typical inkjet printer, which can hold 150 sheets. They also often come with networking facilities to connect directly to the computer network.
Inkjet printers are more common for home use, as they are typically smaller, cheaper and can print both color and black and white. They are also preferable for people who want digital camera prints. Laser printers are often found in offices that need to print high-quality documents quickly.
Inkjet ink cartridges need frequent cleaning, although most printers do this automatically. This accounts for the majority of ink usage, rather than the printing itself. Laser printers are more susceptible to paper jams, and need more maintenance than inkjet printers.
- Wikipedia:Inkjet printing