Cost of inkjet vs. laser printing

The cost of printing materials is sometimes overlooked in the budgeting process, and the type of printer used can make a difference in that expense. Several factors influence the actual cost difference between laser printers and inkjet printers.

Initial Cost

Laser printers initially cost more than inkjet printers. As of 2010, monochrome laser printers cost anywhere from £84 to £1,950, and colour laser printers cost anywhere from £195 to £3,900. Inkjet printers, meanwhile, cost £22 to £1,300.

Cartridge Cost

Although they initially cost more, laser printers save money with the cost of ink. A typical laser cartridge costs £45 and yields 2,500 pages, resulting in an average cost of 2.8 cents per page. An inkjet cartridge costs £22 but yields only 250 pages, resulting in an average cost of 14 cents per page.

Quality Cost

Inkjet printers apply tiny dots to the page, while laser printers apply the entire image to the page. The inkjet dots often cause the image to appear pixilated. In addition, the wet ink has a tendency to smear. Inkjet printers, however, produce better colour photos than laser printers.

Time Cost

Laser printers can print high-quality documents at a rate of 10 to 15 pages per minute. This is the same speed for low-quality, draft documents printed on inkjet printers.

Size Cost

Because laser printers require larger cartridges as well as a printing drum, they are typically larger than inkjet printers and will, therefore, require more space.

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About the Author

Josh McGee graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor's degree in English, professional and technical communication, and a minor in marketing. He has worked as a technical writer and illustrator for two large manufacturing companies, ICON Health and Fitness and Cover-Pools Incorporated. He is currently employed full-time for the latter.