Printers – What you need to know

A printer converts digital files to physical documents. Sounds easy enough until it doesn’t work.

What kinds of printer exist?

  • Inkjet ( Mostly for color printing )
  • Laser B/W ( Black and gray printing only )
  • Laser Color ( Prints in color but uses laser technology )

How do they compare?

Inkjet

The good stuff

  • Best color quality.
  • No warm up time. It starts printing faster than a laser if its been sitting unused for a while.
  • No fan.
  • No heat.
  • Initial cost is low.

The bad stuff

  • In the long run it costs more per page than a b/w laser due to ink capacity and cartridge cost.
  • Slower printing than laser.
  • If an inkjet is allowed to sit unused for more than a week, there is a risk that the print heads will clog and no cleaning cycle can fix it. This may require replacement of the ink cartridges or the entire printer in some cases.

Laser B/W

The good stuff

  • Faster printing speed than inkjet.
  • Costs per page are less than inkjet.
  • Can sit for months or years and still work.

The bad stuff

  • No color – black and gray scale.
  • The toner cartridge and drum are expensive but last a long time.
  • Fan noise, heat, and blowing air.
  • If allowed to sit unused for a period of time, requires warm-up before printing.

Laser Color

The good stuff

  • Prints in color using laser technology.
  • Faster printing than an inkjet while still being able to print color.

The bad stuff

  • Initial printer cost is high.
  • Operational cost is much more expensive than ink or laser.
  • Color quality is not as good as inkjet.
  • Multiple toner cartridges are required at significant expense.
  • Fan noise, heat, and blowing air.
  • May require warm up time before printing if unused for a while.
  • Initial power up and initialization may take a long time.

What type of printer do we recommend?

Use an inkjet if:

  • You need to print in color at low volumes, such as a few pages a day.
  • You are willing to run a print job at least once a week to keep the inkjets clean, wet, and “charged”. Set your calendar.
  • You need instant printing – no warm up time allowed.
  • You are patient as the pages are being printed.

Use a laser B/W if:

  • You do not need to print in color – ever.
  • You need to print many pages a day, fast.
  • You are okay with noise, blowing air, and heat. It’s not as bad as it was.
  • You are okay with a warm up time after it’s been sitting for a while.

Use a laser color if:

  • You need to print a lot of pages quickly, in color, but it doesn’t have to be photo-quality color.
  • You are okay with noise, blowing air, and heat.
  • You are okay with a warm up time after it’s been sitting for a while.
  • You are okay with higher operating costs.
  • You are okay with longer power up times.

Ink and Toner Tips

  • Always run your inkjet printer at least once a week or the ink will dry out inside the printer. We mark our calendars as a reminder. You will save a ton of ink doing this or even the printer itself. If you use it every day or every few days, it’s not a problem.
  • Never open a ink cartridge box or bag until you are ready to use it. Keep it sealed until needed. 
  • Don’t order a ton of ink at one time. If the printer fails and requires replacement, chances are the replacement printer will use different ink and you’ll be stuck with unusable cartridges.
  • Most of the time laser printers are remarkably hassle free unless they break. They may complain that you need to replace the drum at some point. I typically ignore it until the print quality degrades.

What brands and models do we recommend

See here for an ongoing list of recommendations

Contact us with any questions!

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