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Inkjet vs Laser: Production Printer Showdown

By November 1, 2020 No Comments

In the last couple of decades, production printers have advanced immensely. Laser-based digital press technologies have had success in delivering high-quality, on-demand print. Even with this growth, the majority of commercial print is still produced using traditional offset presses, due to the limitations of laser-based presses in terms of quality, speed, format size, and per-copy costs.

Today, inkjet technology is having a growing impact on print. Over the past ten years, inkjet production technology has evolved so that single pass printheads can deposit ink at the quality and speed needed for commercial printers and their consumers.

It’s this same technology that combines these printheads with paper handling technology and state-of-the-art control systems that is set to challenge toner-based technology to meet the demands of commercial print customers.

Key Differentiators…

Let’s look at some of the key elements that differentiate the two technologies.

Laser based print engines are mature technology. Right now, most digital presses using the traditional toner fusing process is evolutionary, not revolutionary. The technology’s upper limits in terms of speed, quality, and format size are being reached.

Exciting changes are happening with inkjet technology, and the potential to change commercial printing is significant. With fast turnarounds and print-on-demand standard requirements today, inkjet presses are very attractive for their ability to handle these requirements.

Run Length and Uptime

Laser-based production devices are sold on their ability to handle a particular duty cycle. Some are only able to run up to three hours a day. The device is more complex, so maintenance and uptime are factors. While laser-based print engines are good for short runs, if the run volume is high, then reliability and uptime can at times be compromised.

Inkjet devices are much simpler in their design and they don’t require the traditional electrostatic process and can run at much cooler temperatures.  This results in a more reliable system that requires less maintenance. This coupled with a production grade of  paper handling systems, allows newer inkjet presses to  handle much larger volumes with less downtime. Perhaps the best news for commercial printers is the ability to achieve a much lower cost per impression which can be immediately added to the bottom line.

The Future

Industry experts agree that inkjet technology will continue to erode the traditional laser-based print engine technology.  Those close to the commercial print industry already know inkjet technology has already been adopted by many of the manufacturers in the production print space replacing their traditional commitment to laser-based engines.

For printers reviewing their options as print enjoys a resurgence, one would be wise to review the newer printing technologies to find the appropriate fit for their unique needs.

To support these claims, here’s a recent release from the IDC:

“Inkjet is the future of digital production print. As productivity expands (both upstream and downstream), we see inkjet doing battle with both analog and digital toner markets. For a print service provider (SP), inkjet is a game-changing technology, allowing for high-speed, variable printing at lower costs per page.” – IDC MarketScape: Worldwide High-Speed Inkjet Press 2019–2020 Vendor Assessment

As print technology evolves, forward-thinking printers should prepare for the future and invest in the appropriate technology to stay ahead of the game.

Ready to learn more about the evolution of inkjet technology for commercial printing? Contact your Allied representative and request a virtual tour of our production grade printing systems and support for your business.




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