Laser vs. Inkjet – What’s the difference?

Although Laser and inkjet are both viable options in the space of coding and marking, they’re not always interchangeable technologies, and to compare them is like comparing chalk and cheese. In other words, they’re similar in their purpose but use completely different technologies to achieve the result. That raises the question, what is the difference, and which would best suit your application?


Laser Coding

Although laser is a relatively newer technology compared to inkjet, it hasn’t taken long for the market to adopt its benefits. The popularity of laser came from several factors, including its ability to leave a permanent, indelible code resistant to elements such as heat and abrasion. Additionally, laser requires minimal ongoing maintenance and no fluid consumables, lowering its total cost of ownership. No fluid consumables also indicate that it’s a more environmentally friendly option.

Laser can mark onto a variety of substrates including glass, plastics, card, film and some metal substrates. It is also the fastest marking solution available on the market, making it ideal for high-speed production lines. Although there is a low total cost of ownership, due to the higher initial capital cost laser is best suited to high output production lines where it can provide a justified ROI.


Inkjet Coding

In comparison, inkjet is the older technology, but is still the most popular coding solution to date, primarily due to its versatility. With multiple types of inkjet technologies, such as continuous and thermal inkjet, the technology possesses the ability to print a wide variety of fonts, graphics and even barcodes onto almost any substrate, speed and orientation. Consequently, it can be used right throughout production on both primary and secondary packaging.

Although inkjet printers do require consumables, the wide range of inks available allows it to suit a variety of applications. Additionally, the quick drying time of the inks means it’s also ideal for fast-moving production lines.

Laser vs Inkjet

Which solution is right for you?

After comparing inkjet and laser it’s clear that there are some similarities between the two technologies. It’s also clear that one is not better than the other. They’re both feasible options, but they’re most effective when used for their relevant applications. To make the right decision on which technology to choose, the best approach is to first consider the application of the code. Then, determining which option will be the most viable for your budget based on the cost of capital and total cost of ownership.