Laser vs. LED Printers

Laser printers and LED printers are often grouped together when speaking in broad categories, and for good reason. In fact, there is very little difference between the two when it comes to the basic science of how the two types work. They both use static electricity applied to a drum, which helps to apply toner and heat to create an image. The main difference comes in how the static charge is applied.

Laser vs. LEDA laser printer printer uses a laser beam, which bounces off a moving mirrored surface. When the laser reaches the rotating imaging drum, it creates a static charge that attracts toner to it, which is then transferred to the page. The laser scans across the page in sequence, emitting thousands of light bursts per second.

An LED printer, on the other hand, uses an array of tiny LED lights that light up at different times to create the static charge. Since the lights span the entire width of the drum, an LED printer requires fewer moving parts.

Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing between a laser or LED printer:


Because there are fewer moving parts, it would seem to follow that LED printers would be faster than laser models, but they tend to be fairly comparable. LED speeds will likely improve at a more rapid rate than laser models over time, however, as the technology matures.


LED models are generally less expensive to manufacture than their laser counterparts, which often translates to a lower purchase price. With fewer moving parts, they are also generally easier to maintain, though parts like the fuser and drum will have a similar life to those of a laser model. Both use toner cartridges for printing, so prices for these supplies are usually similar.


Durability is one aspect where LED printers have a decided edge. By eliminating many of the moving parts of a comparable laser model, LED printers usually have a much longer useful life, and require fewer repairs.


When LED printing technology was still fairly new, they often did not match the output quality of laser models. This is generally no longer the case, and both offer the same resolutions at around the same price points.


So which should you choose? When comparing two models that are similar in quality, speed, and other aspects, the greater durability of LED models does give them an edge. However, either technology will provide great results, and differences in rated speed, quality, and other aspects will have more of an impact on a user’s overall experience than the technology under the hood.

Greg Gladman
Greg Gladman has two degrees from the University of Cincinnati and prides himself on managing the operations and customer service at Ink Technologies. With a mind like a vault, he is full of useful and useless information, making him an asset to the company and to his Tuesday night trivia team. When he is not working, he spends his time bowling and playing golf. Greg dedicates much of his free time to raising money and awareness in support of the fight against blood cancers.

6 Responses to “Laser vs. LED Printers”

  • John Haverkamp:

    Hey Greg. cool article. I was born in Cincy btw.

    Question for you – are the toners used in laser and led printers more or less the same? I’m researching image transfer techniques from laser printers and wondering if they will work the same with LED printers. A high carbon content in the toner seems to be the main requirement, though diffences in the binder/fuser seem like they could also be a dealbreaker.

    thanks man

  • Dave:

    Outstanding definitions, I am now comfortable with my LED choice for our office but was worried prior to reading this…thanks!

  • Greg Gladman:

    Generally Laser and LED printers use the same procedure to print. What we have found is that each manufacturer has their own chemical composition that is fairly unique to them, so HP toner is quite different than toner from Brother. The process in how these printers transfer the images are basically the same. Sorry I couldn’t be more specific!


  • Abe:

    What would you recommend for warehouse environment?

  • inktechnologies:

    The first thing we’d recommend is to keep printers out of warehouse environments. Any area with a lot of dust or other airborne particles is very hard on electronic equipment in general. But if moving the printer won’t work for you, we recommend an LED printer. Fewer moving parts means fewer places where dirt building up will cause a problem.

    For either kind of printer, though, you will get much better results if you keep to a good maintenance schedule. Much of the wear on the moving parts is caused by built-up dirt and cleaning that out frequently will greatly extend the lifespan of your printer. With good care, you should not have any particular problems if you do decide to go with a laser printer.

  • […] have covered the differences between LED and laser models before in our Laser vs. LED Printers article. One of the main advantages of LED models is fewer moving parts, which can often mean a […]