An older technology than inkjet, laser printers are another
popular alternative to legacy impact printing. Laser printers are
known for their high volume output and low cost-per-page. Laser
printers are often deployed in enterprises as a workgroup or
departmental print center, where performance, durability, and
output requirements are a priority. Because laser printers service
these needs so readily (and at a reasonable cost-per-page), the
technology is widely regarded as the workhorse of enterprise
Laser printers share much of the same technologies as
photocopiers. Rollers pull a sheet of paper from a paper tray and
through a charge roller, which gives the
paper an electrostatic charge. At the same time, a printing drum is
given the opposite charge. The surface of the drum is then scanned
by a laser, discharging the drum's surface and leaving only those
points corresponding to the desired text and image with a charge.
This charge is then used to force toner to adhere to the drum's
The paper and drum are then brought into contact; their
differing charges cause the toner to then adhere to the paper.
Finally, the paper travels between fusing
rollers, which heat the paper and melt the toner, fusing it
onto the paper's surface.
Color laser printers aim to combine the best features of laser
and inkjet technology into a multi-purpose printer package. The
technology is based on traditional monochrome laser printing, but
uses additional components to create color images and documents.
Instead of using black toner only, color laser printers use a CMYK
toner combination. The print drum either rotates each color and
lays the toner down one color at a time, or lays all four colors
down onto a plate and then passes the paper through the drum,
transferring the complete image onto the paper. Color laser
printers also employ fuser oil along with
the heated fusing rolls, which further bonds the color toner to the
paper and can give varying degrees of gloss to the finished
Because of their increased features, color laser printers are
typically twice (or several times) as expensive as monochrome laser
printers. In calculating the total cost of ownership with respect
to printing resources, some administrators may wish to separate
monochrome (text) and color (image) functionality to a dedicated
monochrome laser printer and a dedicated color laser (or inkjet)
Depending on the type of laser printer deployed, consumable
costs are usually proportional to the volume of printing. Toner
comes in cartridges that are usually replaced outright; however,
some models come with refillable cartridges. Color laser printers
require one toner cartridge for each of the four colors.
Additionally, color laser printers require fuser oils to bond toner
onto paper and waste toner bottles to capture toner spillover.
These added supplies raise the consumables cost of color laser
printers; however, it is worth noting that such consumables, on
average, last about 6000 pages, which is much greater than
comparable inkjet or impact consumable lifespans. Paper type is
less of an issue in laser printers, which means bulk purchases of
regular xerographic or photocopy paper are acceptable for most
print jobs. However, if you plan to print high-quality images, you
should opt for glossy paper for a professional finish.