The different types of printers
New printing technologies are being developed on a regular basis but you might be surprised to know that some of the older types are still considered “best” in multiple different categories. So, what are the differences between the different types – let’s take a look.
The “Oldie but goldie” classic, laser printers have been around for the past 6 decades. They are more cost-efficient than all other types, they offer higher speed and capacity, and are great for businesses that need to print large quantities. They do consume more electricity than some other types, however, and usually have short “warm-up” times.
Solid Ink printers
These printers are designed to save space and money on packaging by utilizing a unique type of ink technology. They melt solid ink sticks during the printing process. This also allows them to produce more vibrant colors.
All in all, they are more environmentally-friendly than laser printers, the consumables are easier to store, and the ink tones are noticeably better. However, the prints can’t be laminated, which is a big No-No for some businesses.
Very similar to the classic laser printers, LED printers simply used light-emitting diodes to do their job. This requires fewer moving parts in the printer’s inner workings which is generally considered more reliable and efficient. They are also cheaper to manufacture than laser printers and often come with free warranty extensions.
These come in both business and home office sub-types. If you want high-realistic and detailed prints, Inkjets are the way to go. They also have a lower energy and consumables footprint and require just a short “warm-up” periods.
They do produce wet prints, however, and have a higher cost-per-page than laser and LED printers.
Dot matrix printers
The oldest but still used type of printers, if you’re having trouble remembering what a dot matrix printer is, just imagine a typewriter. These printers work by striking the paper with an ink-soaked cloth and are almost exclusively used for printing texts.
These printers are still used because of their low prices, as well as low running and maintenance costs. They are also able to perform in most conditions unlike some of the other types. As long as you’re fine with the noisy printing process and lower resolution, they are actually a good option in some situations.
Not so much a standard printer, 3D printers are a whole new thing. These devices are capable of producing high-detail 3D objects using high-quality resin. They are highly customizable and have near-limitless capabilities when it comes to the types of designs they are able to produce. They do cost a lot to purchase, however, and have high per-unit and maintenance costs. Fortunately, they are a still-developing technology too, so we’re bound to get even better options soon.
What should I look for when buying a printer?
With such a large diversity in the types of printers out there, there are a lot of different features and factors to choose from. Identifying exactly what you need is crucial if you want to get the best printer for your needs.
Higher isn’t always better, really – if you don’t need perfectly crisp image quality for your prints, there’s no need to spend extra for such a printer. If you do want to print images, however, especially for marketing or artistic purposes, quality matters.
This also wouldn’t be overly important if you’re only going to use your printer from time to time. If you intend on printing larger quantities, however, the speed matters too.
This term refers to how many pages per month is ok to be printed with the printer. For businesses, a duty cycle of 20,000 to 25,000 is usually recommended and for residential needs – 5,000 is usually more than enough.
Ink replacement costs
With printers, it’s crucial to not only consider their initial costs but their ink replacement costs as well – that’s where the main expenditure is.
Unfortunately, many printer brands offer low-quality models. That’s why it’s important to not only do careful research but to also get a long and secure warranty as well.
Extra features that might be useful
There are lots of other features and factors to consider too, here are some pointers:
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Memory card compatibility
- Fax page speed and memory
- Copied document sizing
- Automatic document feeder
- OCR (optical character recognition scanner software for scanning pages into software documents
- Scanner resolution
- Scanner element type
So, which type of printer is best for your needs? Whichever type and features you opt for, you should always go for the best possible quality. Buying a low-quality printer is a bad idea for many different reasons – it’s a waste of money, it’s a waste of time to try and fix it every several months, it won’t produce good enough prints, it will consume too many resources, and so on. If you do get something of high enough quality, however, you and/or your business will be set for years to come.