Laser Printing: How It Works & Home Buying Tips

Printers have been an integral part in our daily computer lives. With the development of computers from a gigantic apparatus to a desktop console, printers have provided hard copies of information that we need. From having big, bulky and noisy dot matrix printers to inkjet printers and now laser printers, every home and office can complete their tasks  by using a printer. Even though most offices are going paperless and most households are minimizing paper usage for environmental factors, still, there are certain tasks that require printouts to be handed, recorded and filed.

Laser printers are already in existence for a few years now and its use is steadily growing. Laser printers may have specific uses mostly for business or enterprise, but slowly more home computer users are aware of the potentials of having laser printers at home.  Laser printers offer great reliability and speed for any demanding business, small office users, home office or for general home use. Laser printers have really upped the ante in network setting that allow many users to take advantage of the high speed and duplexing capabilities.

Laser Printer Funtion

Modern laser printers work by using a laser to project an image of a page or pages that needs to be printed onto an

Diagram of a laser printer showing the parts and its functions. Image courtesy of
Diagram of a laser printer showing the parts and its functions. Image courtesy of

electrically charged, rotating drum. The drum is coated using an organic photo conductor that removes the charge from the areas that have been exposed to light. After that, the toner powder is picked up using static electricity by the drum and then printed into the page using heat to fuse the ink into the black paper or your choice of stock. This process produces a smudge-free and very high quality printout as compared to incite printers.

Types Of Laser Printers

Laser printers are divided according to their printout:

  • Black and white or monochrome printers  which are more suitable for document printing
  • Coloured laser printers which are best for printing coloured images, photos, graphics and texts.

Printers according to function also fall into two types.

  • Continuous form laser printers. This type of printer is best used when printing large amounts of high quality prints. It utilizes pin-feed tractors which lessens the chances of paper jams and enables fast and tight paper confined control. Continuous form printers also use powerful stacking, which is very effective for printing huge volumes of printouts in a short period of time, thus, this type of printer is best for commercial, enterprise or large office use. One issue with this type of printer is its size. Continuous laser printers are about the size of an average copier machine because they are designed to process large volume printouts without human intervention.
  • Cut sheet laser printers. Cut sheet laser printers are designed for home and small office use. This printer uses a friction feed to advance paper or any type of face stock. Letterheads, transparencies, photos, documents and other home  and small office applications are best  using this printer.

Useful Buying Tips For Laser Printers

Present day laser printers vary in prices. Monochrome laser printers can cost as low as $100 while the decent colour laser printer can start from $600. Laser printers, as we know are more expensive that inkjet printers, but these hi tech printers also offer many advantages such as lower running cost, less mechanical wear down and faster printing speeds. There are a  number of factors that you need to consider if you are thinking of buying your own laser printer.

  1. The printer consumables. Compared to inkjet printers, laser printer consumables cost less, but the cost of running a printer will still outweigh the initial price tag down the road. Toners will be the biggest cost because this is the part that you will replace frequently. Printer drum, freezer unit and waste toner unit are also some of consumables that you need to take care of. Now replacing these parts will also depend on your usage or application, thus considering the cost of replaceable parts is a good first step.
  2. The cost of consumable over page yield will equal to the cost of print per page. You can work this out by calculating individual consumables and then add the overall consumable cost per page. Although the page yield is not always accurate, it will still give you a basic idea if you will save or not. You can lower printing resolutions or use toner-saving modes to extend the life span of the printer consumables.

    Colored laser printer toners. image courtesy of
    Colored laser printer toners. image courtesy of
  3. Print resolution. Print quality or print resolution for laser printers are measured in dpi or dots per inch. A printer with a higher dpi number, the finer the print quality it can produce. Many present day laser printers can do graphics and photos at resolutions up to 2,400 dpi. A resolution between 300 to 600 dpi is enough to print a high quality text document print out.
  4. Print speed. Another advantage of laser printers over Inkjets. The print speed for laser printers are measured in ppm or pages per minute. The higher ppm number, the faster the print. You have to take note that these numbers may not be always accurate, but it will give you a basic idea on how  fast the laser printer’s output. When printing, the laser printer stores  the image in their RAM before it starts actual printing. Once the image is stored, it will start printing like a running hare.
  5. Duplex printing. Duplex printing simply means that you can make printouts on both sides of the paper without removing or setting the face stock or the paper to print on the opposite side. Many affordable laser printers have duplex printing features. This feature will come in handy specifically when you’re  doing manuscripts or reports.
  6. Colour printing. Majority of laser printers in the market today is monochrome which is designed for black and white graphics and texts. Coloured printers are available and use yellow, cyan, magenta and black toners that will produce images with better contrast and sharper images. A laser printer will be a bit pricey since it will use different coloured toners in producing a colour printout.
  7. Connectivity. If you have set a network within your office or house, then having your laser printer through

    A multifunction color laser printer. Image courtesy of
    A multifunction color laser printer. Image courtesy of

    the network will save you time and will increase productivity.  There are many mid-price and high end laser printers have built in Ethernet ports that will enable the printer to be plugged into the network and can be shared by all computers that are connected to the same network. If set up cables are too much of a hassle, you can opt for WI-fi capable printers.

  8. All-in-one function. If you’re thinking of purchasing a laser printer for your office, you may want to consider an all-in-one laser printer. These versatile printers can scan documents, can function as a photocopier, a fax machine and obviously as a normal printer. Having these printers can save you money and space  because you will not need to purchase separate peripherals or office hardware that will just do one specific function.
  9. The monthly duty cycle. This is the recommended number of pages that a laser printer can produce over a month. It is essential to know the differences between the recommended duty cycle (the manufacturer’s recommended monthly page limit for the printer) and the maximum duty (how much a laser printer can theoretically endure).
  10. Maintenance. Monochrome or black and white laser printer will require less maintenance because it doesn’t use multiple toners as compared to coloured printers that can use up to 4 separate toners.

These simple guidelines can help you narrow down your laser printer choices when buying. Don’t be swayed by sales talk or advertisements. You can do further research and buy the printer that will fit your needs.




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