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What is an Inkjet Printer?

inkjet printer

If you’ve never owned a printer before you may be wondering, just what is an inkjet printer? An inkjet printer is a type of printer that uses liquid ink. Other types of printers use toner, wax, or thermal paper to produce images.

An inkjet printer uses dye or pigment based ink to create images on paper. If it takes ink cartridges or ink bottles then it’s an inkjet printer.

Like any printer, an inkjet printer can be classified as a computer peripheral device. They are commonly found in homes or a home office. Small businesses may use them too.

Inkjet printers are mostly for printing high quality color images. I’ve used them for printing text, but I prefer a laser printer for text.

Similar to laser printers, you can get all-in-one versions of inkjet printers. All-is-ones are just printers with a built in scanner. This adds functions such as copy, scan, or in some cases fax.

Even with additional functions, inkjet printers tend to have a more compact design than laser printers. The tradeoff is inkjet printers don’t usually hold as much paper. Some inkjet printer models come with extra paper trays and auto duplex.

Like any printer an inkjet needs paper to operate. While you can use regular paper with an inkjet printer it does have better results with glossy photo paper.

Inkjet printers require ink cartridges or bottles of ink. The standard colors are:

  • Cyan
  • Magenta
  • Yellow
  • Black

In order to create high-quality prints, more colors are added to inkjet printers. Popular additional colors are grey, red, photo blue, violet, or matte black.

These colors increase the range of colors (gamut) an inkjet printer can reproduce. Even with 4 colors inkjet printers are great for printing color images.

Why Would You Need an Inkjet Printer?

Inkjet printers tend to be inexpensive so many people get them for convenience or to save on paying for prints at a school, library, or print shop. At low volumes they cost less than any other type of printer. Ink tank printers being the lowest to operate of any printer for home use or small businesses.

If you need to print 50,000 pages per month an inkjet printer isn’t a great option. Then you’d certainly need several inkjet printers or simply get one laser printer.

A laser printer has a higher initial price but can easily handle that volume. In the long run one laser printer is less expensive.

More expensive inkjet printers are capable of tremendous print quality. If you need to print artwork or high quality photos a laser printer isn’t a good choice.

So inkjet printers are for printing high quality images and saving money if you only print a thousand pages a year.


How do you know if your printer is inkjet?

Find out if it takes ink cartridges or toner cartridges. You can search for supplies by the printer model or physically open the printer to see which supplies it takes. If it takes ink cartridges it’s an inkjet printer.

Is laser or inkjet better?

Which is better will depend on what you’re using it for. Inkjet printers are better at printing high quality color images. They aren’t made to handle printing 50,000 pages per month. Laser printers are better for high volumes of printing. You wouldn’t use a race car to haul heavy loads or a truck in a race.

Can you print photos on an inkjet printer?

You can print high quality photos on an inkjet printer. Regular copy paper will have terrible results. You need glossy photo paper for the best results printing photos.

Which printer is better ink tank or inkjet?

Manufacturers generally use the same print head design in both Ink tank and inkjet printers so they will have the same print quality. Ink tank printers tend to have fewer features than regular inkjet printers. Inkjet printers are priced lower but ink tank printers have much lower operating costs. If you’re printing more a couple thousand pages a year and can do with fewer features ink tank printers are the better choice. Otherwise, at low print volumes inkjets are your best option.

copier guy

The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them.  I’ve worked with every major brand. As well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.

what is an inkjet printer