Whether a laser printer is right for you will depend on the purpose and volume of what is being printed. Determine what you print the most. If it is mostly to distribute information, either a large amount to a few people or to a large amount of people, a laser printer will probably be the best fit for this purpose. They’re a good fit whether it’s printing 1 page receipts to large amount of people or printing a 100 page documents for several people. If it turns out they aren’t a good fit for your purposes, I have covered inkjet printers as well as wax and thermal printers in other posts.
I’ve written a more detailed post about how a laser printer works, but in a nutshell, opposites attract, likes repel. Toner has one charge and is moved to the drum to form an image and then transferred to the paper by that concept. Heat and pressure melts the toner into the paper. The two biggest advantages of the laser process are durability and lower operating costs.
- lower operating costs
Most toner cartridges yield 1000’s of pages. Fusers usually yield 100.000 or more. What all that means for you is it basically adding paper and occasionally toner if your volume is low. Even if the volume is high and other supplies are needed over the years they still work out to cost less than an inkjet printer.
One of the advantages is the cost per page. The initial cost can be more expensive than an inkjet printer, but the operating costs are cheaper over larger volumes. A fuser is usually the most expensive consumable item but can last 100,000 pages or more. A monochrome laser printer for under $100 and less than $50 a year in supplies would more than pay for itself with the savings in black ink from an inkjet printer over 90,000 pages. Inkjet cartridges that cost $15 work out to cost more than $3000 per gallon, and that’s for a cheap cartridge. Toner won’t dry out or cost near as much.
When it comes to volume most times people will print more than they anticipate. With printing costs being lower and not having to add ink so often, use tends to increase. Which isn’t a bad thing. They can handle a much higher monthly duty cycle. It would not be unheard of to get over a million prints from a good printer.
It’s not that a laser printer produces bad quality, it’s like that slight difference between the Gold and Silver medalist. An Inkjet printer in econo mode on general use paper will not have as good quality as a laser printer with laser paper. An inkjet printer has a glossy finish, while a laser printer tends to be a matte finish. Which is why printing photographs are really the best suited for an inkjet printer. Printing vector graphics, clip art, text effects, logos, charts, graphs, etc on a good color laser printer would be very hard to distinguish from that of an inkjet printer. The difference in cost would favor the laser printer.
Color and Monochrome
The only way to print monochrome cheaper than a laser printer is with a press or duplicator, and that’s based on runs of no less than 5,00 pages. Where a press or duplicator costs are realized are on runs of tens of thousands of pages. Unlike an inkjet printer, there is a significant cost difference between a color and monochrome printer. A monochrome printer only needs 1 drum ,1 developer, and 1 toner cartridge. A color printer requires 4 drums, 4 developers, 4 toner cartridges, and a transfer belt. Even though a color printer needs 4 times the supplies the average cost per page is still less than an inkjet printer.
A low cost monochrome laser printer should be a part of any home or business printing text documents. The savings will pay for itself in the long run. With the advent of wax based toner quality has vastly improved. If you think a color laser printer may be a good fit, give it a try, it may just surprise you with the quality and savings.