Laser vs Inkjet Printer: What’s the Difference?

The first form of the printer was invented in 1938 when Chester Carlson, an American physicist discovered electrophotography. Over the past decades, printer technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and these devices can be found in most offices and homes. The most popular types of printers are the laser and inkjet printers, where both have their merits and satisfy the requirements of different consumers.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the differences between the two, and why you may want to consider one over the other.


Even though they serve the same purpose, the technology behind these two printers is completely different. Inkjet printers use the ink you’re already familiar with, such as the ones from Though different manufacturers may use different techniques, the concept is similar. Inkjet printers pump ink and fire them as very tiny dots at the paper through microscopic nozzles. Because it’s a wet-based medium, you must let it dry or risk smudging the ink.

Because the ink is absorbed and disperses slightly in the paper, this gives images a softer gradient and allows the inkjet to print with fine detail.

Laser printers use toners instead of ink. These aren’t wet, rather they are a mixture of dry powder consisting of plastic particles and other coloring agents. A laser beam is directed to a rotating drum inside the printer, making those parts of the drum negatively charged. Since toner is positively charged, they will be attracted to these affected areas. Once the toner is “glued” to the drum, the drum rolls over the paper that’s moving along the belt. The paper was charged negatively beforehand by corona wires. This transfers the positively charged toner to the negatively charged paper and then bonded by heat.

Laser printers don’t handle complex images well because the toners don’t “blend” with one another. They stick on the paper as if they were glued on it. However, text documents look crisp and professional.

Pros and Cons of Inkjet Printers


  • Inkjet printers usually come in smaller form factors, making it suitable for your bedroom or small office spaces
  • The upfront cost of your typical inkjet printer is lower
  • Subject to many different paper types (glossy, textured, etc)
  • Can produce vivid and vibrant colors. They are usually seen as the go-to printer for creatives
  • No warm-up time necessary


  • Long-term, the cost of ink can be more expensive when compared to toners
  • Risk smudging
  • Very slow compared to laser printers, not suitable for offices that need their printers to work like a workhorse
  • Paper trays have smaller capacities (50-100 sheets)

Pros and Cons of LaserJet Printers


  • They print faster than inkjet printers. Great for those that print high volumes of documents every day
  • Produce sharper text documents because the technology which uses electrostatic charges is more accurate
  • Toner cartridges are much cheaper in the long-term for those that print high volumes of documents


  • Expensive upfront cost
  • Usually bulky
  • Not great for complex graphics