Inkjet Printer Buying Guide

Since first penetrating the market, inkjet printers have risen to become the most widely-used type of printer available, with both domestic and business users relying on an inkjet machine for their day-to-day printing needs. And with excellent print clarity, accurate colour reproduction, and an affordable initial purchase price, it isn’t hard to see why the inkjet has retained its title as the king among printers for over 20 years.

Naturally though, the inkjet does have its downsides, so before you hand over cold hard cash and invest in one, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons. By considering the advantages and disadvantages of inkjet printers, and comparing these to other printer types, you’ll be better placed to determine whether this type of printer is exactly right for your specific requirements.

Before we get into the pros and cons of inkjet printers, however, we’d like to cover exactly how they work and the type of technology used in the inkjet printing process — so let’s get to it.

How Inkjet Printers Work

During the inkjet printing process, thousands of microscopic droplets of ink are fired through a series of jets in the print head at extremely high speed, ultimately forming the image on the page. Despite the huge volume of ink drops being simultaneously applied to the paper, this process is highly accurate, with the average inkjet operating at 300 dpi able to accurately apply 2,475 dots in 1/5000th of a second to the page.

Not only does this ‘drop on demand’ (DOD) system afford fast printing speeds, it makes for highly detailed and rich images on the page, particularly when printing full colour photographs. Predominantly inkjet machines utilise two types of the DOD model: piezoelectric DOD and thermal DOD.

Piezoelectric DOD uses a small voltage inside the cartridge chamber to stimulate a special conductive material, causing it to pulse and subsequently propel the droplets of ink out of the cartridge towards the print head.

Thermal DOD on the other hand uses a heated element that warms the ink, causing it to vaporise. The resulting bubbles create pressure in the cartridge chamber, forcing the liquid ink towards the print head and jet nozzles.

With us so far? We hope so. Now that we’ve covered how inkjet printers work, it’s time to go over their advantages and disadvantages


The Advantages of Inkjet Printing

As touched on previously, inkjet printers have a number of advantages, all of which we’ve covered below to demonstrate what you can expect when purchasing an inkjet machine.

They’re Affordable to Buy

Given the vast number of manufacturers, inkjet technology has become incredibly affordable in recent years, with some models boasting a sub-£30 RRP. Even if you want a more advanced model with a comprehensive range of features, it’s still easy to spend under £200 on a top quality inkjet machine.

They’re Easy to Use

One of the biggest advantages of an inkjet printer — particularly for domestic users — is their simplicity of use. From the minute you open the box, load the cartridge and print your first document, you won’t be hampered by anything super technical, leaving you free to enjoy simple and easy everyday printing.

They Don’t Need to Warm Up

Unlike some types of printer, which require a few minutes to warm up and ready themselves before issuing your printout, inkjets are quick off the line. Depending on the model you choose, you can expect a first page speed of around 5-10 seconds — making the inkjet a great choice for those on the go.

They Print Great Photographs

If you plan to print lots of coloured photographs or graphics, go with an inkjet machine. While laser machines have got better at producing detailed images in recent times, they can’t yet compete with the accuracy, clarity and depth afforded by inkjets.

Big stack of papers ,documents on the desk .

They Can Print on Any Type of Paper

Thick, glossy or matt — you name a paper type, and an inkjet will be able to print on it. This flexibility makes them perfect for arts, crafts and other creative practitioners who regularly need to print on different surfaces and textures.

The Disadvantages of Inkjet Printing

Unfortunately it’s not all good news for the inkjet printer. Here, we go over the downsides of this printing technology to help you make a more informed decision on the type of machine that’s right for you.

Their Cartridges Can Dry Up

If you use your inkjet printer infrequently, you might find its ink supply dries up between uses, something which can lead to blockages and other internal printing issues. Because ink is held in a liquid state within the cartridge, it gradually evaporates when exposed to the air.

They Can Smear and Smudge

For a minute or so after printing from an inkjet printer, you’ll need to be careful with how you handle the document. This is because the ink may be still wet on the page, and smudging, smears and blemishes can occur if the paper is handled incorrectly.

They Can Cause Paper Warping

Given that inkjets use liquid ink, the droplets can cause the paper to warp or distort when the wet ink is applied. This tends to occur when printing images on thin, low quality paper — necessitating the need for higher quality, more expensive papers to be used with an inkjet machine.

After assessing the pros and cons you’ve decided an inkjet printer is the machine for you, click here to view our complete range of inkjet printers from a selection of popular manufacturers.