Is a HP Inkjet or Laser Printer Better for a Small Business?

It’s important to choose a printer that meets the needs of your small business – one that will be capable of printing to your desired quality, quantity, speed and budget.

And for any small business shopping for a printer, there’s one decision that will matter more than most: whether to choose an inkjet or a laser printer.

In this guide we’ll help you to understand the differences between laser vs inkjet printers, so you can choose the printer that best aligns with your needs.

What’s the difference between an inkjet printer vs laser printer?

The main difference between an inkjet printer and a laser printer is the way they mark the page.

  •       Inkjet printers spray microscopic ink droplets onto the page.
  •       Laser printers melt powder (AKA toner) onto the page using a laser.

These methods offer different strengths and weaknesses. Inkjet printers are cheaper to purchase and can deliver higher quality prints, while laser printers are far cheaper to run and can print faster and more reliably.

Let’s take a closer look at laser and inkjet printers to learn which might be the right choice for your business.

Inkjet vs laser printers: a detailed comparison

Which type of printer is best for your business? Let’s compare these two options across a range of considerations to see which might make more sense for you.

Print quality

As the name suggests, an inkjet printer uses ink, which is sprayed as microscopic droplets onto the page. Laser printers, meanwhile, melt powder onto the page, which is supplied by a toner cartridge. These very different printing methods deliver very different results.

Inkjet printers tend to create higher quality prints, particularly in colour. If you’re looking for a printer that’s great for photo quality images, you should choose an inkjet machine.

But most businesses rarely need to print photos. On the rare occasion that photo printing is required, you can go to a professional printer to get a high quality print without the need to buy the necessary printing equipment.

Most businesses simply need to print text-only business documents. Monochrome laser printers are perfect for this task, creating sharp, black and white prints while delivering the wealth of other benefits revealed below.

Cost considerations

You need to consider both the upfront and ongoing costs of your new printer. Inkjet and laser printers are the mirror image of one another in both respects:

  •       Inkjet printers: Lower upfront cost, higher running costs.
  •       Laser printers: Higher upfront cost, lower running costs.

Inkjet printers are compact and surprisingly affordable machines to buy, but an ink cartridge might only be able to produce around 200 full colour pages before it runs dry, which means that in a high volume business printer setting you’ll find yourself replacing your cartridge regularly.

A single toner cartridge for a laser printer, meanwhile, can potentially print thousands of monochrome pages before running dry. So, while the upfront cost of a laser printer is quite a bit higher than an inkjet printer, the significantly lower printing cost per page – often less than half the price – means that this initial investment can be quickly paid back.

Speed and efficiency

Time is money in business, so another cost consideration should be the speed and efficiency of your preferred printer.

Laser printing is far more efficient than inkjet printing. A laser printer can generally produce twice as many pages per minute (ppm) than an equivalent inkjet printer, and the best all-in-one laser printers can produce 70+ ppm.

If you find yourself printing big jobs from time to time – from dozens of pages to hundreds – a laser printer is the far better high volume printer option.

“Time to first print” (TTFP) – the time it takes for a printer to go from sleep mode to producing the first page of a print job – is another key consideration. Once again, laser printers tend to have faster TTFP than inkjet printers, as the printing technology inside needs less time to warm up.

Durability and maintenance

The upfront cost of inkjet vs laser printers offers a hint as to the durability of each machine.

As the more economical option, inkjet printers don’t tend to last as long as laser printers. Often the reason is down to the inkjets themselves: these printers use liquid ink which is designed to dry out when exposed to air and heat. This can lead to small amounts of dried ink building up around the nozzle over time, eventually resulting in clogging.

For this reason you should carefully maintain your inkjet printer, cleaning the printheads and ensuring that ink cartridges are checked if they haven’t been used in a while.

While more expensive in terms of upfront cost, laser printers don’t tend to face the same maintenance issues as inkjet printers. They have fewer moving parts, and the use of dry toner powder rather than liquid ink means they are far less prone to clogging. Toner cartridges also have a longer shelf life.

Laser printers should be professionally serviced at regular intervals, but they can print far higher volumes in between each service when compared to an inkjet printer.

While you can reasonably expect an inkjet printer to last 3-5 years, a well maintained laser printer will last 5-10+ years.

Versatility

One of the major differences between inkjet printers and laser printers, particularly the floor-standing multi-function printer (MFP) models built for high volume office use, is versatility.

Most inkjet printers are print-only machines that can’t scan, copy or fax (although inkjet all-in-one printers are certainly available). They rarely offer built-in security or cloud integration, and generally can’t print larger than A4.

Laser all-in-one printers, meanwhile, can be so much more than an office printer. MFPs can print, scan, copy and fax. They can handle a variety of different media types and sizes. They can offer security and can connect to the cloud. You can even get models with built-in terminals that let you digitise, edit and send documents directly from the machine.

Inkjet vs laser printers comparison table

Feature Inkjet printer Laser printer
Printing technology Liquid ink sprayed onto page Toner powder lasered onto page
Print quality Better for photos and colour printing Better for text and volume printing
Print speed Slower, especially for high-quality images Faster, perfect for high-volume printing
Cost per page Higher, especially for colour prints Lower – very cost-effective for black and white prints
Upfront cost Lower upfront investment Higher upfront investment
Maintenance Requires frequent maintenance to ensure ink doesn’t clog Professional maintenance recommended, but toner cartridges last longer and don’t clog
Durability Average lifespan of 3-5 years Average lifespan of 5-10 years
Size Smaller and more compact Larger, often floor-standing
Noise level Generally quieter Can be noisier during operation
Versatility Available as all-in-one or print-only machines, usually A4 or smaller. MFP machines can print, copy, scan and fax a range of media types/sizes

 

Laser or Inkjet: which printer should I choose?

Ultimately the right choice of printer for your small business will depend on what you need from the machine.

If you want the ability to produce high quality colour prints, if you don’t print much, and if you don’t need any extra bells, whistles and printer specifications, an inkjet printer may be the better option. These printers are particularly popular in home offices and the most paperless of small businesses.

But laser printers will be better suited to the needs of most businesses. They represent a larger upfront investment, but between simpler maintenance, lower running costs and better performance, the initial cost is quickly paid back through a range of savings, from time to toner.

Let us help you find your perfect printer

Still not sure which printer is right for you? As proud suppliers of HP and Toshiba printers, at BDL we’re ready to find a high quality machine that ticks every single box that you need it to.

From simple inkjet models to the high-end HP LaserJet Pro range, you’ll find the perfect printer for your small business at BDL. And once you’ve secured your ideal machine, we’ll help to ensure that it does everything you need it to, and lasts for the long haul, by offering all the servicing, support and guidance you’ll ever need.

Get in touch with our expert team today to secure your ideal copier or multifunction printer.

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