Make the switch: Inkjet vs. laser printers

For many years, inkjet devices have been seen as the printer choice for the home, rather than the office as, traditionally, laser printers have had the edge when it comes to print speed. An inkjet printer functions by spraying quick-drying ink onto paper, while a laser printer uses static electric energy to attract toner to the page, bonding it with heated rollers known as a fuser unit. This method allows laser devices to print pages more quickly, and with less risk of smudging, making them a firm favourite with larger scale users, such as offices and schools.

On the other hand, inkjet printers are a popular choice thanks to their lower purchase price and compact size. Furthermore, a next-generation range of business inkjet printers could result in more and more businesses making the switch from laser to inkjet devices. As with any piece of equipment, different printers have different pros and cons depending on what their primary use will be. It’s important for business owners to evaluate what type of device is most suitable for their business before making a purchase.

Cost: one of the first considerations businesses make when looking for a new print device is how much the printer will cost. No matter which device a business chooses, leasing is generally a far better option than outright purchase. Not only does it help spread the cost of the device, it may include additional solutions such as managed print services and maintenance as part of the agreement.

Consumables: are also an important factor. Laser printers are renowned for having long lasting cartridges, although they do typically come with a higher toner cartridge cost. This is where the next-generation business inkjet devices begin to look more appealing; the Epson WorkForce Pro models, for example, are capable of printing up to 75,000 pages without changing an ink pack, making them, comparatively, as economical as their laser counterparts. In addition, it is important to assess the eco-credentials of each model before making a decision, as some devices will have significantly lower energy consumption than others. This is not only better for the environment, it’s better for your budget too!

Quality: While both are capable of producing superb quality prints, when it comes to choosing a device, it very much depends on the purpose of the printer. An inkjet may just have the edge when it comes to colour printing. Boasting high definition, vivid colours and virtually no pixelation, photographs can be produced to a near professional standard. A laser device, on the other hand, is capable of printing a higher number of pages per minute - particularly in mono. For businesses that do not require colour printing, but do need a device capable of delivering high print volume, this may be the better choice.

Size: In smaller workspaces, size is a big issue. Despite laser printers dominating the market, it’s important not to rule out business inkjet models, particularly if space is at a premium. Inkjet printers are typically far more compact, making them suitable for smaller offices, whereas laser printers are larger to easily process a higher volume, making them a good choice for industries that are still heavily reliant on paper documents, such as the legal and financial sectors. For businesses who print infrequently, an A4 desktop inkjet printer is usually sufficient, and keeps costs to a minimum.

Functionality: Inkjet technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years in terms of increased functionality and speed. Although inkjet devices have traditionally been considered more basic, business inkjets are now catching up with laser printers in terms of functionality. Users can opt to scan, print, fax, or copy on either an inkjet or laser machine, making both perfect for most small office environments. Despite their compact size, inkjet printers are capable of delivering striking picture quality, and with high-quality, faster-drying inks, newer inkjets are now more than capable of completing multiple jobs at impressive speeds.

Productivity: for productivity, laser devices still can’t be beat. Designed to regularly manage a large quantity of documents, laser printers have a variety of printing speeds available and can print up to 60 pages per minute, making them capable of completing high-volume print jobs quickly.

Think before you switch: SMEs choosing a new print device should expect a big impact on business both in the immediate and long term. Weigh up the pros and cons of laser printers versus inkjet is essential in accounting for the ongoing cost of consumables, the rate of productivity, and energy consumption. The right choice saves both time and money, but purchasing a machine that turns out to be unfit for purpose is money down the drain.

Mark Bailey

01376 512575

EBM Ltd is a specialist in managed print services, supplying print hardware solutions across the UK. As an independent and impartial supplier to the SME sector, EBM Ltd works with a number of major manufacturers, including Epson, Konica Minolta, and Lexmark, ensuring its customers receive the best print solutions, tailored to their specific requirements.