What is a laser printer

In this guide, I will talk about what a laser printer is, how it works, the benefits of owning a laser printer compared to other printers.

what is a laser printer

What is a laser printer?

It is called a laser printer because it uses a laser to print on to the paper. Laser printers are capable of printing good quality images, but it is the crisp and clear text they produce that makes them stand out. If you don’t need to print glossy photos and most of us don’t – then the laser printer is an ideal home choice and business favorite.

The laser printer is one of the most popular types of printer on the market today, sharing the top spot with Inkjet printers but can be a lot less expensive to run. The cost of the print ranges in performance from very cheap home or consumer-grade laser printers all the way up to expensive business-grade models.

Who invented the laser printer?

It was the invention of electrophotography that inspired the creation of both the photocopier and the laser printer. They both use a complicated system to print but you don’t need to understand how it works to use one. Invented by Gary Starkweather in 1969. Gareth worked at Xerox in their development department and first came up with the method of using a laser.

What happens when you click print?

When you decide to print a document, a plan of action known technically as ‘printer command language’ (PCL) is sent from the computer to the laser printer. This ‘plan of action’ tells the laser printer via an electronic circuit board how to create your text or image on the page.

Inside the plastic casing of your printer is a toner cartridge and inside this cartridge is a cylinder-shaped drum. This drum turns and rubs against a charger roller creating an electrostatically charged drum. An oppositely charged laser is then fired into a mirror which is reflected onto the drum. The laser uses the plan of action to draw out the image or text onto the drum. The oppositely charged design created by the laser attracts the toner particles in the form of your text or image. As the drum rotates it rolls the ink particles in the design onto the paper. Which is then heat sealed by the fuser to the paper and ejected (in all its warm glory) to the paper tray.

Laser printers and ink

The Ink in the cartridge is made up of millions of tiny particles of dry powdered toner. This means the ink does not dry out, clog up the nozzles or waste ink like inkjet and dot matrix printers do. As the ink is dry it cannot dry out like the ink used in inkjet ink printers and therefore can last a lot longer. If you have not printed for a period of time, the chances are the printer will be fine but if not a gentle shake of the toner cartridge often solves the problem (always follow the manufactures advice in regard to toner cartridges).

Laser printers and paper

Most laser printers use cut paper. Either A4 letter-sized or A3 sized paper. It tends to only be the expensive business-grade options that allow continuous sheet printing. Laser printers can print on adhesive labels and some lightweight card stock. They are capable of printing on both sides of the paper, assuming the model of printer you have chosen has a duplex facility.

Laser printers and speed

Laser printers are usually very fast due to the way that they print. Even at the cheaper end of the market.

Laser printers and resolution

The resolution of the laser printer will depend on the printer and obviously the more you spend the likelihood of a better resolution. But it is important to check as printing speed, cost of cartridges and bran will also be a cost factor. Having said that for printing text most laser printers will be more than capable of producing good quality text. But avoid anything below 600dpi for everyday printing needs.

Laser printers – the good points

  • Less ink mess, spillage and smudging on the printed page with dry toner. 
  • No drying time.
  • Fast printing
  • Toner is dry, therefore it will last much longer than wet ink when unused for periods of time.
  • There are no jets or nozzles to clean
  • Cheaper to run because of the above.
  • Sharp clear and crisp text
  • Images do not fade over time.
  • Fast printing

Laser printers – the bad points

  • Cartridges are expensive to buy.
  • The toner within the cartridge is a carcinogen. Although they supposed to be completely safe in normal use.
  • Single colour cartridges.
  • Cannot print on glossy photographic paper or other media.

Should you buy a laser printer?

In conclusion, the cartridges for laser printers are expensive but they last a lot longer than inkjet printer cartridges. The laser printer is the only real option for occasional printing and are much quieter to run than other types of printer. They are fantastic at printing crisp black text and ‘everyday’ images which do not fade or lose quality over time.

If it is fast, relatively cheap and if crisp black printing is what you need, then the laser printer is the perfect option! If you are still unsure click here to see our post on inkjet printers.

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I really hope you found this guide to what a laser printer is helpful. I spend lots of time putting these guides together and appreciate any feedback or comments left below. Also please look at the rest of my website Techsnail.com.

One Response

  1. H Shipton November 21, 2019

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