A laser printer is a good choice for occasional home printing. If the printer is not used for a longer period of time, there is no need to fear that the ink cartridges will not work. A laser printer uses a toner that does not dry up and ensures the functionality of the devices even if they are not used for a long time.

What is a laser printer?

This device uses a laser to print on paper and transparencies. The devices use the electrophotographic process. Laser printers are considered page printers because the entire page is exposed and printed in one pass.

As a peripheral device, the laser printer is connected to a computer using various connectors. The term laser printer is also often used for the LED printer. Both devices follow the same operating principle.

How does a laser printer work?

The term laser printer is based on the use of a laser as a light source. The LED printer mentioned above uses an LED light.

The principle of electrophotography is as follows: The laser printer has an image drum built into it. Its coating is electrostatically negatively charged.

This can work in two ways:

  • Corona discharge = The voltage is generated by a wire.
  • Charge rollers = The voltage is transmitted by the rollers.

The transfer of the print image to the image drum is done by exposure with the laser. At the points on the image drum that are touched by the laser beam, the negative charge is cancelled. The laser beam is diverted to the drum in rasters by the laser scanner, which functions like a rotating mirror.

By means of a half-tone raster, different grey scales can be achieved. The mode of operation is comparable to a simple colour laser printer. In this way, the colour laser creates additional nuances from the existing basic colours. With high-quality models, the generation of the colour image is based on a graded discharge.

The image drum rotates and is moved to the toner. The toner is negatively charged by its synthetic resin components and thus adheres to the previously discharged areas of the image drum. A further rotation moves the toner to the paper to be printed. In various models, the toner is first transferred to a transfer belt. These are older models.

The applied toner is then fixed. The printed paper is passed through two rollers coated with silicone rubber or Teflon. One roller can be heated up to about 180 degrees. The high temperature causes the toner to melt and a stable bond between the ink and the paper is achieved. The rollers are statically charged so that they do not get dirty. This prevents excess toner from sticking to the rollers.

Some Brother and other printers are equipped with additional cleaning rollers.

What are the different types of laser printers?

There are many different models on the market. The first thing to do is to make a rough classification regarding the different types of printers.

Monochrome laser printers

Laser printers that only print in black and white or allow certain shades of grey fall into this category. These models are primarily suitable for printing texts. The printing of graphics is also possible. The graphics are then printed in different shades of grey.

Monochrome laser printers are often used in the office, where it is important to achieve a high printing speed per minute and keep printing costs as low as possible.

Colour laser printer

Until a few years ago, color laser printers were only designed for the commercial sector. The price of these devices has fallen significantly in recent years, and the range of applications has thus expanded considerably. If you want to print out color graphics and pictures frequently, this laser printer is a good choice.

Multifunctional devices

Both models mentioned above may be commercially available as multifunctional devices. The term does not describe the series, but the extension of the range of functions. A multifunction printer can literally kill several birds with one stone.

In addition to conventional printing, these devices can also function as scanners, copiers and in many cases as fax machines. These practical printers are particularly popular in private households, as they include various functions and take up little space.

What advantages does a laser printer offer?

The laser beam travels at high speed over the image drum. The print head of an inkjet printer is clearly at a disadvantage. Consequently, laser printers deliver fast print results. There is no need to purchase expensive paper for the laser printer. The quality of the print has no influence on the quality of the printer paper.

A laser printer is cheap in entertainment. There is no need to constantly buy new cartridges. The toner does not dry out, which is often a problem with inkjet printers when they are not used for a long time.

What are the disadvantages of a laser printer?

If you want to set up a laser printer, the desk at home will hardly suffice. The devices are large and bulky. You also have to dig deep into your pocket when buying a laser printer. The maintenance of the devices can be quite costly. It can happen that the image drum or the waste toner box has to be replaced.

Those who print photos frequently will probably not be happy with a laser printer. The devices are designed for text printing. With foil printing, most printers even have to fit. If you intend to do so, you should make sure that the printer is marked accordingly when you buy it. If you are lucky enough to carry out a foil print, you run the risk that the foil in the device will melt and damage the printer.
Only paper or foil can be printed with a laser printer. Rigid materials such as printable CDs cannot be used because they cannot be fed through the printer's roller system.

The advantages and disadvantages of laser printers at a glance

Advantages: - fast printouts
                       - ideal for text printing
                       - low printing costs
                       - Toner cannot dry up

Disadvantages: - higher acquisition costs
                            - higher power consumption
                            - require a lot of space
                            - cause higher volume
                            - Concessions in photo printing

What do I need to pay attention to when buying a laser printer?

Before buying a laser printer, there are several aspects to consider. Which device is ultimately the most suitable is individually different. Measured against the individual ideas and needs, it will be easy to find the right laser printer. In order to better weigh price and performance and to be able to assess them more transparently, you should compare offers and take a closer look at the representatives who won the test.

The following factors can be important when buying:

  • Print resolution
  • Paper size
  • Issue volume
  • Power consumption

To experience a laser printer in action, a print job is required. This is transmitted from a connected computer. Consequently, both devices must be connected to each other.

The printer memory has only a limited volume. Often the file to be printed cannot be transferred in its entirety. This can minimize the printing speed and longer downtimes are the rule.

When you buy a printer, pay attention to the capacity of the printer memory. If you miss this, you can look for a possibility to expand the existing memory.

Print resolution

The resolution provides information about the sharpness of the printed image. For text printing with a laserjet 600 x 600 dpi are usually sufficient. The specification stands for the pixels per inch in horizontal and vertical direction. Modern laser printers often have a resolution of 1,200 x 1200 dpi and beyond. If detailed graphics are to be printed out, these printers meet the highest demands.

Paper size

A commercially available printer is configured to feed paper in DIN A4 format. Some models can also print in A3 format. If you want to print on envelopes, business cards or other special formats, you should consider additional devices that enable these special sizes to be fed.

Most printers have a paper tray where a larger amount of paper can be loaded and printing does not have to be interrupted continuously to refill paper.

Output volume

The output volume indicates how fast the printer works and how long it takes to print an A4 page. While this factor appears to be less relevant for sporadic printing in private households, speed is certainly important in offices for frequent serial printing.

A laser printer should be able to print at least 16 pages per minute. For commercial use, models that can handle 40 pages and more per minute are worthwhile. When print speed is specified, the speed at which a piece of paper is fed, printed and ejected is not the only decisive factor. Laser printers require a warm-up period, which also influences the printing speed.

Power consumption

Laser printers generally consume more electricity than inkjet printers. If you print occasionally, you don't need to worry about energy consumption because the devices can be switched off after printing. This means that even the power consumption in standby mode is irrelevant.

In offices, on the other hand, the devices must always be available on demand. Generally speaking, a laser printer is not one of the biggest energy thieves in the home and office. Therefore, power consumption should not be one of the primary purchase criteria.

What toner is available for the laser printer?

If the laser printer is intended for frequent use, the selling price is not the only decisive factor. The additional purchase of toner cartridges can quickly become a cost trap.

Toners need to be replaced less frequently than ink cartridges in an inkjet printer. Individual manufacturers specify the toner capacity of various models with up to 20,000 pages. This means that the capacity of the toner exceeds the capacity of conventional ink cartridges by a factor of 40.

After buying a new laser printer, however, the toners have to be replaced much earlier, because usually the starter toners in new devices have much less capacity than the original replacement cartridges.

For original toners you have to dig pretty deep into your pocket. It is therefore worth considering possible alternatives. So-called rebuilt toners are original cartridges that have been professionally refilled by third-party suppliers. The manufacturers have their toners patented. However, patent law does not apply to refilling.

Customers can also choose to have their own products made by third-party suppliers. These are cheaper than the original toners. If you choose a reputable supplier, you will not have to accept any loss of quality and compatibility.
Those who refill their toner themselves save the most money but also risk damage to the printer. Furthermore, there is a risk for the own health when handling loose toners, as the dry dust should not be inhaled. If not professionally handled during refilling, the fuser unit can become dirty and the quality of the printout will be compromised.

The manufacturers will not give any guarantee for possible damage to the printer if the damage is proven to have been caused by the use of third-party toners.

Is a laser printer better than an inkjet printer?

The value of a printer always depends on its use and the demands you make on the equipment. The laser printer can keep up with or even exceed an inkjet printer in many points. For a laser printer you have to pay more when you buy it. On the other hand, the additional purchase of the toner is less expensive, as the printing performance far exceeds that of conventional printer cartridges.

Inkjet printers work with liquid ink. Laser printers use powdered toner. While ink cartridges can dry up if not used for a longer period of time, this is impossible with toner. When printing text alone, the laser printer is fast, precise and therefore has a clear advantage. You have to make some concessions when printing photos. The laser printer does not have borderless printing and the small colour gamut makes the devices unsuitable for photo printing.

For occasional text printing, the laser printer is the better choice. For those who frequently print and expect graphics and photos in brilliant quality, an inkjet printer is a good choice.

What makes a good laser printer?

  • low printing costs
  • high print quality
  • high printing speed
  • brilliant text printing
  • high definition

How is a laser printer connected?

A laser printer must always be connected to a computer, as it is from this device that the actual print job is received.
There are several ways to connect the printer:

USB

USB is considered the most common way to connect laser printers and other peripherals. The USB cable is quickly connected and data exchange is very easy to set up.

Different standards exist with USB 1.0, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. The main difference lies in the transfer rate. The USB connection also has disadvantages. The connection can only be made to one device, which reduces data transfer to a single peripheral device.

If you want to make the connection using a USB cable, you must bear this in mind when setting up the printer. The printer should be set up close to the computer and should be adapted to the maximum length of the USB cable.

LAN

If several devices should be able to access the printer, the LAN connection is recommended. The printer's LAN cable is connected to the network router. Now all devices that are also connected to the network can access the printer. For the user, the same restrictions apply as for the USB connection just described. The choice of the installation location must be based on the length of the LAN cable.

WLAN

Similar to the LAN connection, WLAN also ensures that all participants in a network can access the connected printer. The wireless connection gives you a free hand when setting up the printer. However, a power connection must be nearby. Another relevant factor is the transmission power of the wireless network.

WiFi

This connection possibility is roughly comparable to WLAN. The difference is that no network router is required. The laser printer brings its own network with it and thus functions as a base station.

AirPrint

This function is similar to WiFi. However, its use is limited to Apple devices. AirPrint is designed for Mac OS X and iOS operating systems. Print jobs can be sent directly from these device types.