A lady inserting a toner cartridge into a laser printer, revealing the inner workings

How does a laser printer work?

Lasers may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but they have been used in printing for decades as a fast and high-quality means of producing documents and photographs.

Laser printers were first developed in the 1960s and were based on the same technology as photocopiers. Like a photocopier, laser printers read the electronic data from your computer and beam this information onto a drum inside the printer, which builds up a pattern of static electricity. This attracts a dry powder called toner onto the paper which is then fused using heated rollers. Laser printers are available in colour, mono, and all-in-one models, with wired and wireless options available. They provide superb print quality with crisp text, fast speeds and generous paper handling (how many sheets of paper the printer can hold) for both home and office.

Do laser printers need ink?

One of the big advantages of laser printers is that they don’t require ink. Instead, laser printers use toner cartridges. Toner is a very fine, dry powdered substance, which comes in cylindrical cartridges. When a laser printer produces a document, it’s actually toner on the surface of the final printed page.

First, the laser printer reads the electronic data that makes up the information or image that you want to print and beams this onto a photo-sensitive drum. The information on the drum is then transferred to paper using static electricity to position tiny particles of powdered toner in the correct pattern. The toner powder is then permanently fused onto the paper by the heat and pressure from rollers inside the machine and your finished printout emerges from the tray - hot from the press. This process may sound complex, but it all takes place at lightning speed inside your laser printer without you ever knowing.

What’s the difference between inkjet and laser printers?

The big difference between laser printers and inkjet printers is ink. While laser printers use toner, inkjet printers essentially spray ink onto paper through a nozzle in microscopic droplets. There are two types of inkjet printers - Bubblejet and Inkjet - which use slightly different techniques to achieve the same effect. Inkjet printers can be relatively inexpensive in themselves. However, ink cartridges need to be replaced regularly and the cost can start to add up, especially if you make the mistake of choosing an inefficient inkjet printer. Laser printers on the other hand use toner cartridges which can print thousands of pages before needing to be replaced. For this reason, they are generally considered to be more economical. While the initial cost of a laser printer might be higher, you’re more likely to save money in the long term thanks to the lower cost of printing per page and faster print speeds.

Traditionally, laser printers have been the preferred choice for offices, SMBs and high-volume home printing, whereas Inkjet have been favoured for personal use. As for quality, it depends on your particular needs. Laser printers are excellent for text-based documents, but inkjet printers tend to do better with photo-quality prints and complex, image-heavy printouts. Ultimately, your choice of printer should be based on your business or personal needs.

If you regularly print large volumes of documents, particularly text, and demand consistently high-quality outputs, then laser printers are the perfect solution for you. Laser printers are fast and efficient when printing large volumes and offer excellent quality with crisp, sharp text. Brother offers innovative and expertly engineered laser printers, including colour, mono and all-in-one models, with the ability to customise accessories and features, such as higher yield toner cartridges for printing more pages. Check out our full range of award-winning laser printers and remember to choose our Brother Genuine Supplies and accessories, including toner and paper for the highest quality and best performance.


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