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Types of printers available today

What Types of Printers are Available Today?

Michelle Wilson
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Reading time: 9 minutes
Printer technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades. Printers can do a lot of more complicated jobs than just a few years ago. We’ve gone way beyond simply printing out your standard book report.
With the advent of 3D printing technology, for example, the art, construction, automotive, medical, and aerospace industries have seen an explosion of innovation. 3D printing has revolutionized companies’ ability to manufacture parts and materials quickly and efficiently. But if you’re not an astronaut in need of a 3D-printed part for your space station - that’s okay, there’s a printer out there for you, too.
Below, we will touch on the main types of printers and printer technologies to help you narrow your search for the best printer that answers your specific demands.
Whether you're looking for the right multi-purpose home printer, a high-volume printer for a text-heavy business, or even a metal 3D printer for solving mechanical engineering issues, we’ll review what’s out there so you have all the information you need to make the best choice for you.

Laser printer vs inkjet

inkjet and laserjet cartridges
When you’re deciding which printer to purchase, the first decision you’ll have to make is what printer technology you want.
Laser printers and inkjet printers are the two main types you’ll see on the market. So, what’s the difference between them?

INKJET PRINTERS

First, we’ll look at inkjet printers. Inkjet printers run the gamut from a basic, single-use document printer, a high-quality photo printer, or an all-in-one copier, scanner, or printer.

HOW INKJET PRINTERS WORK

These printers work by forcing ink through holes in a printhead. They’re capable of producing high-quality photo printouts as well as black and white and color documents. Inkjet printers are considered the best type of printer for blending colors seamlessly in photos, making them a great option for graphics-oriented businesses.
What sorts of inkjet printers are available today? A huge variety - the best type of printer for you depends on what you’ll be using it for, how many people will be using it, and whether it’s for home, business, or enterprise use.

BEST USES FOR AN INKJET PRINTER

Printers like the HP DeskJet 3755 All-in-One Printer use inkjet technology for basic home printing like documents or emails. But it can also print out lab-quality photos and features additional scanning and copying capabilities.
Boasting the title of the smallest all-in-one home printer, it’s the perfect addition to a home office with varying needs.
Inkjet printers aren’t just an option for families or those running a mobile office. They’re also for high-end, image-heavy businesses. Business models of inkjet printers tend to have a much higher print speed to keep up with the day-to-day volume of a workplace.
Take the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e All-in-One Printer for instance. This all-in-one powerhouse can print up to 22 pages per minute (ppm) in black ink and 18 ppm in color. It’s also able to print up to 99 copies in one command, and allows faxing broadcasts of up to 20 locations.
HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e All-in-One Printer
And thanks to its easy-to-use color touch screen, managing print tasks is a breeze. Access to HP Instant Ink also makes staying stocked with ink simple.
Inkjet printers have a cost-efficient start-up price and generally, their ink cartridges are less expensive over time than toner cartridges for laser printers. Inkjets also have the benefit of being able to print on a variety of surfaces like glossy photo paper, fabrics, and stationery.

INKJETS ARE BEST FOR:

  • Graphics-heavy printing
  • Photo printing
  • Small to mid-sized businesses
  • Home and home office use

LASER PRINTERS

Now, let’s turn to the other type of printer: laser printers. The first laser printers were actually constructed from altered photocopiers which use the same kind of technology.

HOW LASER PRINTERS WORK

Laser printers work thanks to the power of static electricity. Yes, the same static electricity that can give you a shock if you walk around in socks on the carpet. The main element in a laser printer is the photoreceptor, which comes in the form of a spinning drum or cylinder that’s positively charged with electricity.
The printer points a laser beam at the drum to create a pattern of static electricity. Specifically, it negatively charges certain areas. Then, thanks to that static electricity, it attracts toner, a powdered ink. The fuser unit then adheres the toner to the paper. And finally, you have your printout.
Generally, laser printers are faster than inkjet printers. If you do high-volume printing, especially with text, you’ll notice a definite difference.

BEST USES FOR LASER PRINTERS

These types of printers are superior at printing small lines and small fonts. If your print jobs are mostly text without a lot of graphics, you might want to consider a laser printer.
HP’s LaserJet series, for example, offer laser technology capable of serving individual business professionals, small offices, to large corporations with multi-media needs. Again, as with inkjet printers, the best laser printer depends on your specific circumstances.
If you’re looking for an enterprise-capable LaserJet printer, the HP LaserJet Enterprise Flow MFP fleet is the pinnacle of performance and secure printing. Capable of printing up to 75 pages per minute, this business workhorse is designed for more efficient workflows.
HP LaserJet MFP M234sdw Printer
When it comes to business printing, sometimes you need something that is simply dependable, like the HP LaserJet MFP M234sdw Printer. This no-frills all-in-one will take care of the office printing, copying, and scanning – and do so wirelessly. With up to 30 ppm in black ink, auto duplex printing, and dual-band WiFi, you’ll have confidence that your office printer can get the job done.

How to pick the best printer from HP

When deciding what’s best between LaserJet vs. inkjet printer types, it’s important to ask yourself these questions as you think about your printing habits and whether your printer needs to meet the requirements of business or home.
  • How many people are going to be printing?
  • What volume of printing will I be doing in a day, a week, or a month?
  • What will I be printing? Photos? Text? Both?

Multi-function vs print only

The next question to ask yourself is if you need to do anything with your printer besides print. Besides basic black-and-white printing capabilities, there are also multifunction printers that can streamline your workflow or simplify your home office.
For example, some printers can scan, copy, and fax in addition to printing. Scan files, copy documents, and fax them to clients or partners across town for an easy, collaborative experience.
Whatever your job - from stay-at-home parent to corporate executive - a multi-function printer can mean hassle-free productivity.
HP LaserJet Pro MFP 3101fdw Wireless Printer
A printer like the HP LaserJet Pro MFP 3101fdw Wireless Printer packs faxing capabilities with traditional print, copy, and scan functionality. You’ll enjoy auto two-sided printing, use by up to 7 people at once, self-healing WiFi, and first-page print speeds as low as 6.6 seconds. This LaserJet will also make short work of tasks, with up to 35 ppm in black ink. Its 2.7-inch touch screen also makes managing print jobs even easier.
If you’re on the go, you can still get work done with this laserjet, as it’s compatible with the HP Smart App and Apple AirPrint™.

Specialty printers

hp designjet plotter printer in office
For printing that falls outside the standard home or office parameters, there are printers designed for specific needs and with technology in mind.
Mobile printers, non-standard paper sizes and materials, and even 3D printers open a wide array of potential uses, solving problems for both business and personal use.

What is HP Smart Tank printing?

Ink tank printing makes refilling your printer a breeze - and with HP Instant Ink, you can rest assured that you’ll always have ink on standby when you’re running low.
As the name suggests, ink tank printing utilizes bottles of ink and an ink reservoir as opposed to the traditional ink or toner cartridge. Ink is still fed to the printer’s print head, but this system allows more ink to be held by the printer.
HP Smart Tank printers still work with black, cyan, magenta, and yellow inks, but you can expect to print thousands of pages before needing to refill (depending on use). However, these printers do need a little more maintenance than traditional inkjet or laserjet printers, as reservoirs can potentially clog up with ink or dry out if not used regularly.
The Smart Tank system is also environmentally friendly, with less plastic cartridges making it into landfills. You’ll also save money on paying for ink to start.
HP Smart Tank 5101 All-in-One Printer
Take the HP Smart Tank 5101 All-in-One Printer, the perfect entry-level printer into the Smart Tank family. This wireless printer provides all the standard needs - printing, scanning, copying - with up to 12 ppm in black ink and 5 ppm in color. Self-healing WiFi keeps this printer connected and up to date, and it’s compatible with the HP Smart app, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria Print Service. It’s also constructed using 45% post-consumer plastics.
For the benefits of Smart Tank printing and even more features, like automatic duplex printing and faxing, check out the HP Smart Tank 7602 All-in-One for a step up.

WIDE-FORMAT PRINTERS

Have you ever seen a decal that spans an entire wall made of one piece of material? That was made with a printer.
Many advertisements and packaging we see in our everyday lives are made with printers that use the same kinds of technology you see in even the humblest of inkjet or laser printers.
If you’re working in an industry with multimedia product demands, you need a specialized printer that can handle bigger projects, including large graphics and posters.
HP DesignJet T630 Large Format Wireless Plotter Printer
The HP DesignJet series, for example, offers large-format office printers for businesses like architectural firms that need to print out documents like building blueprints.
Or, there are even larger-scale printing apparatuses available like the HP PageWide industrial press for high-volume commercial use such as printing corrugated packaging, as well as large-format signs and displays.

TYPES OF 3D PRINTERS

An even more futuristic, specialized printer is one that’s been making waves for its ability to revitalize and change how we manufacture products from medical devices to car parts: 3D printers.
3D printers are the future for many industries that deal with large-scale manufacturing practices.
Not only have they been used to make innovative art projects, they’re also being used by medical research teams for bioprinting and tissue engineering.
Currently, the breakdown of what industries are using 3D printers looks like this:
  • 17% consumer goods (athletic shoes and knitwear, for example)
  • 17% industrial goods (car parts)
  • 13% technology
  • 9% services
  • 7% medical industry [1]
HP has its own line of HP Jet Fusion 3D printers customized for small- and medium-sized product teams, design firms, and schools.
When these futuristic printers were being built and planned, HP collaborated with corporations like Nike and Shapeways to create 3D printers that serve multiple industries.
For the first time, HP has also released plans for the HP Metal Jet for mass production in the industrial sphere. That’s right, a 3D printer that prints out metal! The future is already here.

Find the best type of printer for you

Printers have come a long way from their humble origins and there are plenty of different technologies to consider when you’re picking a printer. HP printer types span the gamut from single-user to industrial presses.
Laser printers work best for high-volume, print-heavy offices expected to have high output while inkjet printers give users the opportunity to print high-quality graphics.
There are single-use printers, multi-function printers, mobile all-in-one printers, and printers perfect for both the home and office or business.
Whatever printer you need, make sure that you’re choosing a printer that fits your business or lifestyle. The right printer can enhance your experience as a business professional working from home or revolutionize your workflow as an enterprise.
[1] 3D Printing; What is 3D Printing

About the Author

Michelle Wilson is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Michelle is a content creation specialist writing for a variety of industries, including tech trends and media news.

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