Does technology always win? Laser technology is cool and is known for its accuracy. However, when it comes to printers, is laser technology better? Before asking that, what even is a laser printer? You’ll have all those answers by the end of this article. Let’s dive right in.
What Are Laser Printers and How Do They Work?
Before we could get into how they work, they are a few definitions that you need to know.
As a kid or an adult (we don’t judge), you must have tried at some point to rub a balloon and then bring it close to your hair. You’ll find that your hair will start getting attracted to the balloon. That attraction happens due to static electricity.
Putting it simply, static electricity is an imbalance in the charges of electrons and protons, so extra charges try to find a way out to regain balance. That way out could be through your hair when it comes to the balloon experiment.
Okay, What Does That Have to Do with Printing?
The answer is ‘everything’! Laser printers depend on static electricity to work, besides laser, of course.
How they work exactly is as follows, laser printers get their data from your computer. With a built-in electronic circuit, the printer activates the corona wire. What the corona wire does is that it causes static electricity.
Going into further detail, the circuit causes a positive charge on a component called the drum. So imagine this, the whole drum is covered in positive charges, so good so far? What happens next is that a laser beam scans over the drum and ‘draws’ your image or text into it. The laser beam causes positive charges to disappear from the areas it hits and leaves behind negative charges instead. So, when it is done, the drum will end up with both positive and negative charges accordingly.
To get a clearer image, a positive charge is white, and the negative charge is black.
After that is complete, you have something called a toner. Toner has a positive charge, and when another part called an ink roller touches the drum, it covers it with the toner. Simply, the toner is powdered ink. The ink sticks to the negatively charged areas, which we’ve established; they are the areas that should be black.
After that, the ink is then transferred into a sheet of paper, but then the ink is just resting on top of the paper. Now what?
Well, if you’ve ever used a laser printer, you must have noticed that the paper is rather hot right after it comes out of the printer. No, that is not because the printer itself is hot, that heat is necessary and intentional, along with pressure. The high temperature and pressure cause the ink to be fixed into the paper permanently.
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Laser printers are generally more accurate and sharp if inkjet printers because they use dry ink and laser technology. That makes laser printers the better option if you’re seeking a sharp print, for example, printing text documents.
- High Volume Printing
Laser Printers require less maintenance than inkjet printers. In addition, they are much faster than inkjet printers. Also, they are cheaper when printing in high volumes.
- Inexpensive Toner
If you know anything about inkjet printers, you’d know that they’re most prominent issue is the price of ink. Unlike inkjet printers, laser printers’ ink is inexpensive. However, that is limited to black and white printing.
- Long-Lasting Ink
Because the ink is stored as a powder, it cannot smear or run as inkjet printers’ ink would. The printed paper comes out instantly dry; you wouldn’t have to wait for the ink to dry. Spilling water on the paper wouldn’t cause the ink to smudge or run. However, water can ruin the paper itself if it’s not high-quality paper.
- High Initial Cost
The printer itself is expensive relative to an inkjet printer. Laser printers are not the best option if you’ll be using them for small volumes. It’s better to save that extra money.
- High Cost to Print in Colors
Here comes the reason we said that toner is inexpensive if it’s black and white only. Printing in colors using laser printers could be quite pricey, and you wouldn’t get the outcome that you want.
- Not Eco-Friendly
Sadly, laser printers are not eco-friendly. They cause pollution, and they harm the ozone layer. Besides, the toner itself is harmful to humans.
- Low-Quality Images
Laser printers are not a good option if you’re planning to print photographs. They have limitations to the kind of paper they can work with; for example, heat-sensitive paper cannot be used with laser printers. Besides, laser printers don’t produce the highest quality.
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How to Choose the Right Laser Printer?
If you’re planning to purchase a laser printer, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration. Nobody likes noise, right? Laser printers make some noise, so be careful when purchasing one and make sure it doesn’t make more noise than necessary.
In addition, try to find a laser printer for home use that doesn’t consume too much electricity. You’re already paying a lot for the printer; you wouldn’t want to add even more to the electricity bill.
Laser printers can be quite bulky. Make sure you have enough room for the printer before you purchase it. Also, try to look for relatively small printers.
Another critical factor is the printing speed. Not all printers have the exact printing speed. If you’re in a rush, which you probably are, try to find a printer that has high printing speed.
Laser printers are like any other electronic device; they have advantages as well as disadvantages. They’re accurate and produce sharp images. They’re optimum for high volume printing due to their printing speed. However, the initial cost of purchasing a laser printer could be quite high. Moreover, they aren’t optimum for printing images. In addition, sadly, they cause pollution.
Fascinated by science from an early age, Jason has always been drawn to learning and experiencing technology. From learning about light through his passion for photography, building out PCs, and printing 3D models life couldn’t be better. When he isn’t writing about all things 3D printing related he enjoys reading, watch soccer and enjoy with his family.