I’ve repaired inkjet and laser printers for over 25 years. I’ve seen laser printers with over 1 million pages on the meter and I’ve worked on inkjet printers 20 years old. However, when I see the HP Laserjet 4, released in 1992, still alive and printing I have to say laser printers last longer. It creaked, groaned, had a funny smell but it printed!
I don’t mean to get anyone’s hope’s up that the HP laser printer you bought from the big box store is going to get 1 million pages out of it. Or mean to say that any inkjet printer is worthless.
Parts are going to wear out on any printer you buy. Whether you have access to these parts is another story. The sad truth is there’s a huge difference between business class printers and retail class printers.
Retail class printers are any printer you buy from a store or online retailer. Business class printers are any printer you buy from an authorized dealer.
Business Class Printers
A business class printer, such as the HP Laserjet4, come from a dealer. They typically cost above $1,500. You can get used business class printers on eBay. Manufacturers are required to provide parts and support for 10 years.
Business class printers are serviceable. Meaning HP, Canon, Ricoh, Lexmark, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, and other brands provide authorized dealers access to replacement parts. Aftermarket parts from places like Katun or Precision Roller are also available. Which also extend the life beyond 10 years.
Occasionally, I’ve seen a manufacturer rebrand a business class printer as a retail printer. In which case compatible replacement parts are available for these retail versions of their printers. In my experience, manufacturers only do this with one or two models.
Retail Class Printers
These are any printer available at stores and online retailers. They cost between $50 and $1,500. They are made from the same manufacturers such as HP, Canon, Brother, Epson, and Lexmark.
In my opinion any inkjet or laser printer you buy from a retail store isn’t going to last more than 50,000 pages. Whether it’s an inkjet or laser printer the feed rollers are the first part to wear out. Since parts aren’t available for retail printers and it’s cheaper to buy a new printer, it’s easier to throw it away. Which is why retail printers are also called throw away printers.
While manufacturers are required to provide parts and support for 10 years. They don’t provide replacement parts for retail printers. They do provide consumables and support for that long. Consumables are things such as ink cartridges or image units. Parts are things such as feed rollers, control panels, etc.
They get around not providing replacement parts by replacing the actual printer. Which is why it’s easy to get a replacement retail printer but not so for a business class printer. Business class printers are expensive so they’d rather repair them.
If you ever have an error or broken part on a retail printer you should push customer support for replacement parts, not a replacement printer. Replacement printers are cheap so they’d rather swap it out.
In my experience the cost of consumables goes up after 4 years. Making any retail printer expensive to operate. Another reason they’re known as throwaway printers.
Newer laws are forcing manufacturers to provide parts for products over $100. But there’s considerable push back from manufacturers against your right to repair. If you could buy a $200 printer and make it last a lifetime by replacing worn parts, they would probably not make very much money.
Either type of printer you get from a store isn’t going to last more than a few years. The old adage you get what you pay for applies. Business class printers are expensive but they last much longer.
They make business class inkjet printers that last over 10 years but they’re wide format plotters. Most business class printers are laser printers which is why laser printers earned a reputation for being durable.
If they made inkjet printers capable of handling 10,000 pages per month with speeds of 35 pages per minute. Then inkjet printers might earn a reputation for being durable and long lasting. However, the price per page of an inkjet printer makes it unsuitable for printing 10,000 pages per month. Also inkjet printers are slow.
Inkjet printers are good for home use since they’re cheap and the print volume is low. But there’s no reason an inkjet printer can’t last as long as a laser printer.
If you’ve ever wondered which type of printer lasts longer, it’s the printer with more replacement parts.
Retail inkjet and laser printers you get from a store aren’t made to last more than a few years. Business class printers you get from a dealer are repairable. They can last 20 years or more.
The “ink”, also known as toner, inside a laser printer lasts as long as the printer itself. Toner won’t dry out or expire. Manufacturers suggest a 5 year expiration date but I’ve seen 10 year old bottles of toner work like new.
Laser printers are bought over inkjet printers because they don’t make an inkjet printer capable of printing 35 pages per minute or handle 5,000 pages per month. Even if they did, inkjet printers cost significantly more per page. Laser printers are bought due to their speed, cost per page, and duty cycle.
I’ve seen laser printers 30 years still printing. I’ve also seen inkjet printers 20 years old still printing.
The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes since 1994. 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.