Color Digital LED Printer Vs. Laser Printer

By Elizabeth Mott

Toner-based output devices use a light source in their output machinery.
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Whether you're buying a printer for a new office or replacing existing equipment, you can opt for a wide range of digital device types, including inkjet, solid ink, laser and LED hardware. For durable output that resists friction, heat and moisture, you can narrow down your selection to the two toner-based options in the list. LED and laser printers establish a durable heat-set bond between pigmented materials and paper surface. These two device types seem similar because of their shared reliance on toner, but their differences may simplify your buying decision.


When your output consists of word processing, presentations and correspondence, you may need nothing more than a reliable source of color documents that also can create black-and-white printouts. Both LED and laser printers come in models that use four colors of toner -- cyan, magenta, yellow and black -- to produce text, graphics and photos. If you need to print in white to accommodate specialized printing needs -- such as transfer paper, decals or DVD labels -- you can select from LED printer models that include a fifth toner cartridge for white output.

Output Method

As its name points out, a laser printer uses an internal laser light source to create a static charge on a light-sensitive drum. Where page detail should appear, the static charge attracts toner, which then lays down on paper. Laser-based mechanisms use a combination of mirrors and lenses to set up the drum for output. LED printers use an array of light-emitting devices to create the static charge, eliminating the mirrors and lenses and simplifying the output mechanism. When these LEDs emit uniform light, the results offer crisp text comparable to laser output.

Device Configuration

Because LED printers use less-complicated machinery to produce printed output, they can fit in shorter, smaller casework than laser printers that produce output with comparable specs. This reduces the amount of desk space you devote to office equipment. As part of their small footprint, LED printers typically use a straight print path in which each sheet of paper remains flat all the way through the device. By comparison, most laser printers must roll each sheet around the drum, which can produce output with a slight curl to the paper.


Both LED and laser printers use high heat to bond toner to paper. Machinery that creates heat uses considerable amounts of electricity to do so. LED devices can apply multiple toner colors in one pass through the machine, so they can print color output more quickly than laser hardware, which must lay down one toner color at a time. Because LED printers feature greater mechanical simplicity than laser printers do, they can offer lower operating costs based on lower power requirements. LED devices eliminate the need for many of the moving parts that contribute to laser printers' operating noise. Their straightforward design also can lead to enhanced durability.