Are laser printers worth it
Ink or laser - the better office printer
It is generally assumed that the printer manufacturer's business is likely to be rather leisurely. The printing techniques are largely mature and the device prices have fallen so far that large, innovative innovations can hardly be expected. However, if you take a closer look at the "Printer" business area, you will quickly realize that there has been a lot of movement in the industry, especially in the last few months.
The eternal competition between inkjet printers and their competitors from the laser faction has reached a new high point. The cost-per-page value is currently shifting, especially for black and white printing, and at the same time laser printers are not without controversy due to their fine dust emissions. If the energy consumption and the printing speed per page are also taken into account, the throne of the laser printer wobbles more clearly.
Up until a few years ago, printer distribution seemed to be fairly simple: Private users primarily buy multifunctional devices based on ink with many additional functions, such as label printing for optical data carriers. Business customers with a higher print volume use laser printers.
However, this general classification no longer applies today. There are inexpensive color laser printers that are also bought by private customers and, at the same time, inkjet printers such as an Epson WorkForce Pro business inkjet printer for workgroups with a print volume of up to 3000 pages per month.
Always advantages and disadvantages
The laser printer still offers several advantages over an ink-based system. The manufacturers offer expansion options such as hard drives or multiple paper cassettes for different types of paper almost exclusively for professional laser printers.
Even in environments where there is little printing, the laser has its right to exist. Ink can dry out and any blockages must be removed by self-cleaning processes that use ink. This very expensive cleaning is not necessary with laser printing. Often the property of "document authenticity" is named exclusively for laser printers. However, this is not entirely true. The service regulations for notaries (DONot) regulate in §29 which writing and printing materials may be used.
Although there are significantly more test certificates from the responsible paper technology foundation (PTS) in Heidenau for laser printers, some inkjet and matrix printers are also listed. Older systems were still certified by the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), which was responsible at the time, with a test certificate. It is even less well known that the paper used is checked in addition to the printer itself.
Laser printer Brother HL-2035 at a bargain price
Not every printout necessarily has to meet the requirements of document authenticity. However, a certificate ensures that the printed documents are protected against fading for a longer period of time. Storage ability is particularly important when contracts, certificates or documents have to be drawn up.
Even the simple laser printer shows its strengths with pure text printing. Compared to the inkjet printer, the laser is less prone to "bleeding" of letters on the paper. On the other hand, the color space and the contrast gradations in good inkjet printers on special paper are significantly larger.
Many photo prints on color laser printers lack color fastness, paper creases are prone to peeling and possible grid stripes reduce the overall result. Photo printing in the private and semi-professional segment is still the domain of high-quality inkjet printers today. Due to the necessity of a curved paper path within the printer for the toner transfer, the processing of thick paper with the laser printer is more difficult.
If the required paper thickness can be processed at all, the laser printer must significantly reduce the processing speed. Rigid templates, such as optical media, cannot be printed at all, apart from the use of special blanks that the burner labels directly.
Modern printing techniques
Many laser printers currently available on the market work much faster than inkjet printers. This is due to the printing technology used so far. In simple inkjet printers, the relatively small printhead moves back and forth across the paper. This significantly reduces the number of nozzles from which the ink is thrown onto the sheet, but at the expense of speed.
In the case of professional inkjet printers, manufacturers such as HP or Brother are turning to installing many thousands of tiny print nozzles in an immovable print head that covers the entire width of the page instead of a moving print head. These print nozzles apply the ink to the moving sheet. With only the sheet moving and not the print head, these new printers with a "page-wide print head" are not only much faster, but also quieter. The printing system of the Brother HL-S7000DN considered by us in this article works with a so-called inkjet line head with ceramic technology and has 5198 nozzles in the print head.
Hewlett Packard has also worked on this technology and calls it "HP PageWide". The core element at HP consists of 42,240 print nozzles, 4224 print nozzles per chip, which, arranged over the entire width of the page, generate drops of ink of identical weight and speed. The size of the drops is truly tiny. According to HP, one gram of ink corresponds to around 170 million 6 picoliter drops. A picolitre is one trillionth of a liter, or in other words, a single raindrop is made up of several hundred thousand picoliters.
In the print head, an electrical pulse heats a small resistor in the drop former, a three-sided chamber with a filling channel and a nozzle that is filled with ink, for a microsecond. A thin layer of ink evaporates, forming a bubble that expands and ejects a drop from the nozzle at a rate of ten meters per second. The bubble acts like a small piston that pushes the ink from the bottom of the chamber through the nozzle on the ceiling. When the bubble bursts after about ten microseconds, it stops the flow of ink and draws new ink into the chamber for the next round.
Test: Five multifunctional laser devices from 160 euros in comparison
After leaving the print head, the ink drop "flies" about a millimeter and then produces a point on the paper. According to HP, this process is repeated up to ten thousand times per second in each drop former. But there are not only new developments in inkjet printers.
The introduction of the new Blue Angel RALUZ 171 and the requirements of the "Energy Star" ultimately meant that Kyocera, for example, was able to reduce the average power consumption of the currently introduced ECOSYS M2535dn by 44 percent compared to its predecessor, measured by the TEC value.
Laser printer under suspicion
The media keep reporting that laser printers pose a health risk due to their fine dust emissions. Last year, for example, the Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice put several thousand Samsung laser printers out of service prematurely, as an investigation on several devices showed that the emissions of ultra-fine dust were particularly high with the printer model used. Since 2014, stricter guideline values have been in place for acquiring the "Blue Angel" eco-label, and the model would no longer have complied with them.
But what is the truth of the sometimes very emotional debate about particulate matter? Now that older diesel vehicles have been banned from city centers and smoking is practically prohibited in all public and business areas, does the next source of dust have to be eliminated?
Anyone who has ever exchanged a laser toner or has worked their way into the inner workings of a laser printer that has been in use for several years knows very well that a toner is an extremely dusty business. If the printer is working properly, however, it does not simply blow this dust into the office. For many years now, low limit values for dust emissions have been in force for acquiring the "Blue Angel", which explicitly includes toner dust.
Studies have shown that the number of dust particles is very high, especially in the initial phase of a print job. However, these particles are much smaller than the toner material itself. These ultra-fine particles (UFP) with a size of just a few nanometers are so small that they can either be deposited in the airways or even reabsorbed via the lungs into the blood vessels. Due to their small size, nanoparticles are even able to cross the blood-brain barrier and can settle in the brain.
Kyocera has been researching the topic of ultrafine particles together with the Fraunhofer Wilhelm Klauditz Institute since 2004, says Heiko Schumann, Product Manager at Kyocera Document Solutions. According to the investigation, the emitted ultrafine particles are harmless particles and not ultrafine dusts or other solids from the toner, but rather volatile condensation products from water and silicone oil. The number of particles emitted is of the same order of magnitude as occurs in household activities such as cooking, frying and baking. Other test results, such as the Ames test, macrophage test, tests according to the OECD EU 96/54 / EC and 62/69 / EEC would not have produced any results.
Four test winners
In our monthly PC magazine we regularly compare different printer models. A direct comparison of models from different manufacturers is usually only possible with comparable equipment and pricing
possible. The four models that we would like to briefly present here in a table with the most important data emerged as winners within their comparison group according to our point scoring system.
The Brother HL-S7000DN is a large and powerful b / w inkjet printer with a page-wide print head for particularly large print volumes. The printhead has a stated life expectancy of 1,000,000, and an ink cartridge that looks more like a toner has a stated page yield of approximately 30,000 pages. In front of the paper output tray there is a transparent plastic tab, which on the one hand slows down the paper emerging at high speed and at the same time acts as a status LED and shimmers red or green if necessary.
If necessary, the owner can expand the paper capacity by up to three compartments, which is certainly a sensible purchase with such a high print volume. Although the imposing device offers duplex printing and delivers a print quality that is comparable to laser printers, it is not designed for sorting and stapling.
With the Officejet Pro X576dw, Hewlett Packard offers an ink-based multifunctional device for professional workgroup use. The product designers have positioned the paper insert and the output in a user-friendly manner. If, however, the user would like to use the single sheet feeder, the space requirement of the device increases again significantly. Otherwise, the device is a quiet and powerful multifunction device with an extremely good print image. The scan resolution of 1200x1200 dpi is completely sufficient.
In copier mode, however, the X576dw only uses up to 600 dpi, regardless of whether it is a b / w or color copy. The Kyocera FS-4300DN is a pure monochrome laser printer with an extremely low price per page and, at the same time, a high working speed. Various paper cassettes, expansion via SSD for simple document management with data encryption, warm-up time of around 25 seconds and ThinPrint support underline the area of responsibility: work groups in the office.
The OKI MC770, weighing around 50 kilograms, is more of a copier than a printer. A 1.3 GHz processor, supported by 2 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive as data storage, work inside the device. The system can be extensively expanded with a finisher for stapling and sorting, supports duplex scanning and copying, encrypts print jobs on the hard disk and offers user administration. The 23 cm color display with touch function makes operating this multifunctional device very easy for medium-sized work groups.
In the end, it is still a very individual decision which printer technology the customer will choose. The simple inkjet printer is an option for those who frequently print color photos and want a low purchase price. If it is necessary that a printout receives the predicate "document-proof" and is guaranteed not to be changed by the effects of moisture, a laser printer is probably required.
If the paper is not to be corrugated under any circumstances so that it can then be processed by inserting machines, the cold printing technology of the inkjet printer is once again ahead of the curve. Those who do not print very much benefit from the laser.
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Ink printer: all-in-one
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