Do I Need an Inkjet or Laser Printer?

By Online Labels
It's the debate plaguing homes and business owners alike, should you buy an inkjet or laser printer? Depending on your needs, here's how you can decide when it comes time to go through the buying process.
Inkjet or laser printing graphic

Any time you're in the market for a new printer, the unavoidable question emerges, "Laser or Inkjet?" It can be an intimidating question for those of us who don't quite know the difference. Here is what you need to know when deciding between laser and inkjet printers for your labeling projects.

How to Determine Your Printer Type

Below are five quick ways to see what type of printer you already own.

  • Inspect the cartridge. If it's large and bulky, it's most likely toner from a laser printer. Smaller cartridges generally belong to inkjet printers.
  • Is it warm? Laser printers use a special laser that helps fuse images on paper using ink. This will result in a hotter working temperature than inkjet printers which don't create heat.
  • Does it smear? Inkjet printers will smudge if the ink is wet. Toner doesn't smear, it cracks, so if you rub the print and it smears or bleeds, it's most likely an inkjet printer.
  • Take a look at the model name. Typically, that will identify if it's a laser or inkjet printer.
  • Search the web. A quick search of your printer's model number will often give you all the answers you need!

Laser vs. Inkjet: Which Printer is Best for You?

Deciding which new printer to get can be a pretty tough decision. It can go a little deeper than which price looks the best on the shelf, though knowing which type of printer is more economical is important. There are a few long-term factors to consider before making a purchase. Here's a little background on how each printer type works and the pros and cons you should be aware of.

Inkjet Printers

An inkjet printer propels tiny droplets of ink onto the paper during printing, which then must dry. They are the most common type of printer due to their low cost, high quality of output, capability of printing in vivid color, and ease of use. Unfortunately, frequent ink cartridge replacement may drive up the daily operating cost.

  • Most models are very affordable
  • Great for occasional home or office use
  • Capable of printing photo-quality images
  • Produces vivid colors
  • Can be costly to operate and maintain
  • Has a slower printing print speed compared to most laser printers
  • Ink cartridges tend to have a short life

Laser Printers

Laser printers use a special laser to produce an electrically charged image on a drum, which is then rolled through powdered toner. The toner fuses onto the paper using heat. Laser printers have traditionally been used for business applications because of their high printing speeds and ability to handle large volume printing. In general, laser printers tend to be more expensive than inkjet printers.

  • Usually costs less to operate on a daily basis
  • On average, toner cartridges have a longer life
  • Sharp text quality
  • Fast printing speeds
  • Can be more expensive at time of purchase
  • Images and detailed graphics may not print as well
  • Toner cartridges can be very costly to replace

Next, Choose The Right Label For Your Printer

Printer Compatibility Chart

Material Material Code Inkjet Compatible Laser Compatible
Standard White Matte WX
Removable White Matte WR
White Gloss Inkjet WG -
White Gloss Laser WS -
Weatherproof Matte Inkjet WJ -
Weatherproof Polyester Laser LP -
Weatherproof Gloss Inkjet WI -
Clear Gloss Laser CL -
Clear Gloss Inkjet CK -
Clear Matte Inkjet CJ -
Clear Matte Laser CX -
Brown Kraft BK
Blockout for Laser BT -
Weatherproof Silver Polyester Laser SP -
Pastel Colors GX, BX, YX, PX
Fluorescents FG, FY, FP, FO, FR
True Colors TB, TC, TE, TG, TY
Foil for Laser SF, GF -
Foil for Inkjet SI, GI - Has You Covered

We want to make sure your labels come out as brilliantly as you want them to. We hope we helped you settle the debate, inkjet vs. laser printer, and that you're well on your way to creating great marketing pieces, craft essentials, or business organizational tools with the right printer. Whether you decide to go with the inkjet printer or the laser printer, has you covered with our large selection of materials and sizes available for both! For more printer support, label printing help, or label material information, visit our forums.