What’s the difference between inkjet printer and laser printer?

For casual users, all printers are the same.  You put your paper at one end of the printer. Click a button on the computer.  And out from the other end of the printer comes your printed paper.  There is some truth to this perspective, the job of any printer is to get a mark, dye, ink or stain onto a parchment or paper in such a manner to make the printed work legible and comprehensible to the reader of the printed work. 

How the printers do the job of transferring dye/ink to the paper determines how the printers are classified.  In the class of printers known as Inkjet printers, the ink stored in an Inkjet Printer Ink Cartridge is transferred to the paper through a microscopic nozzle to form printed graphics.  While for the class of printers classified as LaserJet printers, toner powder (consider this a form of ink in powder form) stored in a Laser Toner Cartridge is transferred to paper with the assistance of a drum that has been electrically charged with a laser. 

The way each of these classes of printer prints is not the only difference.  Because of the technology underpinning them, Inkjet printers are better suited to printing color images.  They are able to show a subtle gradation in colors better than LaserJet printers.  While LaserJet printers are better at printing black and white text images. 

Also, Inkjet printers are able to have smaller form factors than LaserJet Printers.  When it comes to speed of printing, LaserJet printers have a higher speed of printing, the average printing speed range of a LaserJet printer is between 20 – 80 pages per minute (ppm), especially when printing black and white texts.  While the average printing speed for most InkJet printers is between 6 – 12 ppm. 

When assessing based on cost, as a rule of thumb, Inkjet printers have a lower upfront cost of purchase.  Some basic inkjet printers can be obtained for as low as $60.  The reverse is the case with LaserJet printers.  Most contemporary LaserJet printers have a higher upfront cost than InkJet printers.  But they have lower operating cost based on the cost to print a single page, i.e. the cost per page, which is the cost of the cartridge divided by the number of pages the cartridge will print. A LaserJet toner cartridge will print significantly more pages compared to an Inkjet printer cartridge, which leads to a lower total cost of ownership for the LaserJet printer. Knowing the type of print jobs you will use the printer for will allow you to assess which type of printer to invest in based on the characteristics of the LaserJet or InkJet printers.

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