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How Do Laser Printers Work?

How Do Laser Printers Work?

Dec 8th 2021

how do laser printers work

If you need a new printer, you may be stuck deciding between an inkjet printer or a laser printer. The laser printer versus inkjet debate is common, especially when you do not know exactly what either printer is able to provide for your needs. When it comes right down to it, laser printers are the more valuable option for printing at high volume with superior quality and for an affordable price. Learn more about how laser printers function and why they make the best printing option for school or the office. 

printer cartridges

What is a Laser Printer?

Laser printers work very differently compared to inkjet printers. While inkjet printers use ink cartridges to spray microscopic droplets of ink onto the paper to produce the prints you need, laser printers have a much different method of production. This kind of printer requires toner cartridges that contain powdered toner. The toner is melted onto the paper to give you the quality of prints you need for school or the office.

The difference in cartridges is one of the key factors that makes laser printers so useful. People often find that they run into issues with inkjet printers if they have not been consistently used because the ink cartridges can dry out, rendering them useless. That is not a concern with laser printers because the toner cartridges do not dry up. Toner cartridges also have a higher page yield than ink cartridges. Most ink cartridges average a printing capacity of 135 to 1000 pages. Toner cartridges can yield an average of 2,000 to 10,000 pages. This means that the longevity of toner cartridges in laser printers can really save you a lot of money when it comes to buying office supplies.

Laser printers are also much more durable, meaning they can handle high-volume printing with ease, making them perfect for large quantities of documents on a regular basis. Whether you need a single copy or 100 copies at a time, laser printers will surely deliver without a hitch. When it comes to speed, inkjets are no match for laser printers. While inkjets can print approximately 16 pages per minute, laser printers have the astounding ability to print an average of 15 to 100 pages per minute, making them exceptionally fast.

laser printing process

The Laser Printing Process Step by Step

Since laser printers sound superior to other printer options, you may be wondering how a laser printer works. The printing process of a laser printer consists of seven steps, making its ability to print so fast and so often even more impressive. Learn how a laser printer functions by exploring these laser printer steps below.


At the very start of the laser printing process, the document that is sent from the computer is broken down into digital data as it is moved to the printer. This transfer of information is usually done via a hardline, called an ethernet cable, or wirelessly depending on the capabilities of the computer and laser printer. The laser printer captures this data and then processes it into a digital document that will be printed onto paper.


Before any printing is done, the laser printer takes on a cleaning process that removes any leftover residue on the printer drum. This prepares the printer for a flawless printing job with every new project. A rubber cleaning blade scrapes away any leftover toner from the printer drum and pushes it into a debris cavity. Electrical charges from the previous printing project are then eliminated using electrostatic erase lamps. The heat roller is coated with lubrication to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of heat conducted to transfer the toner onto the paper.


The electronic circuit within the printer then activates the corona wire, which gives a static electric charge to the drum unit and also to the paper. This process of creating static electricity allows for the electrostatic transfer of the image onto the page. The primary charge roller then begins to spin the adjacent organic photoconductor drum, which is then coated with negatively charged ions via the corona wire through static electricity.

This process replaces certain areas that have a positive charge with a negative charge. The areas that remain positive will remain white during printing while those that have been replaced with negative charges will be printed with the image.


At this point in the laser printing process, the photosensitive drum becomes exposed to a laser beam which reduces the charge of all areas of the drum by approximately 100 volts DC. An invisible image is then produced as a thin layer of electrons while the printer drum rotates.

The beam of the laser inside the printer is spread out all across the drum with the help of a spinning, multi-sided mirror. The rays are broken down into information and then sprayed onto the photoconductor drum, transforming the negative charges into positive charges. As the drum turns, the laser transfers the data line by line, directing the charged toner particles on what color needs to go where until the entire image has been charged onto the drum's surface.


The toner is then applied to the invisible image that has been transferred onto the drum. The toner particles consist of 85% to 95% finely ground plastic while including other ingredients such as colored pigments, silica, and control agents. These ingredients all work together to produce the colors you need for your printing projects while assisting with retaining the negative charges of the toner particles and preventing the toner particles from clumping together.


As the transfer roller applies a negative charge to the paper, an agitator unit inside the toner cartridge hopper spins to heat the toner. The toner adder spins and extracts the toner to dust its surface. A blade then levels out the toner for the appropriate height for transferring to paper.

Once the toner particles have been charged with negative ions, they come in contact with the positively charged image that was produced on the photoconductor drum. The toner particles are then magnetically attracted to the positively charged areas on the paper. Following the instructions left behind by the laser, the various colors and layout of the image are transferred to the paper.


Once the toner particles have been transferred, heat and pressure are applied via the fuser unit to make a permanent bond by melting the toner particles into the paper. Teflon then covers the fuser unit and a light coat of silicone oil is applied to eliminate any kind of stickiness that could cause sheets of paper to stick.

A wiper blade then wipes remaining particles off the photoconductor drum and shuffles them into a debris cavity. Images left behind on the drum are then erased, restored, and refreshed for another round of printing. Any excess toner that was scraped into the debris cavity is then recycled by the developer unit and returned back into the cartridge hopper to be used again for the next page.

The Components of Laser Printers

Laser printers are comprised of many important parts that make their amazing functionality possible. From the drums to the tiny mirrors, laser printers are complex machines that make heavy printing tasks a breeze. Understanding what these components are and how they work can help you better understand their amazing printing capabilities.

Toner Cartridge

As mentioned early, laser printers require toner cartridges to perform their printing tasks. Toner cartridges contain color or toner (carbon/iron oxide powder) that is positively charged and melted onto the paper after the printed image has been transferred. Although toner cartridges are notably long-lasting, they do need to be replaced with a new one when they have been emptied. Colored laser printers will have multiple cartridges, each containing its own color, while a toner laser printer will generally have one.

Imaging/Drum Unit

Also known as the photoconductor unit, the imaging/drum unit typically consists of an aluminum cylinder that has been coated with a green, light-sensitive film. This unit receives static positive and negative electrical charges from the laser beams that are bounced through a spinning mirror during the printing process. The intensity of the light helps to indicate the amount of color, toner, or white space that is provided by the data of the original document.


A laser printer wouldn't be a laser printer without a laser. This critical component transfers a laser light onto a series of spinning mirrors during the printing process. The laser beams are then bounced off the mirrors and onto the photosensitive drum to produce an invisible image made of static electricity of what you need to print.

Transfer Belt

This component moves the paper through the printer, pulling it across the drum. The transfer belt helps with the smooth transfer of the image to the paper line by line. While some laser printers do not have a transfer belt, they do have rollers that perform the same job.

Fuser Unit

Last but not least is the fuser unit. At the end of the image transfer, a heated roller called the fuser unit melts the toner particles, forming a permanent bond of the particles to the paper. This ensures that the toner does not smudge or fall off the paper once the printing job is complete.

Advantages of Laser Printers

There is no doubt that laser printers provide a number of benefits, making them a superior choice for work or school use. Take a look at how a laser printer can help you carry out even the most daunting of printing jobs.


Laser printers are well-known for their ability to print sharp and precise text. This is ideal for crisp and clear documents and images. When it comes to printing top-quality official documents such as emails and invoices, laser printers are the best choice.

Noise Emissions

One of the bonuses of laser printers is that they make little to no noise as they perform their heavy-duty printing tasks. This is appreciated by many who require a relatively quiet work environment.


Laser printers can make dozens of printouts at what seems like lightning speed. When time and efficiency are of the essence, you can't go wrong with using a laser printer to get the job done fast.


While it is true that laser printers are an investment to get one in the door, they will pay for themselves in no time. Since laser printers have the ability to print an outstanding number of pages per toner cartridge, you will definitely save money compared to its inkjet competitor.


Laser printers were created with the office and other environments that require heavy printing in mind. They are built to last, which means that they can last for several years, especially if they are well maintained.

laser printers differ from other printers

ow Laser Printers Differ from Other Printers

Laser printers greatly differ from inkjet printers in many ways. When it comes to deciding which printer is right for your school or office use, it is important to note these differences.


Inkjet printers require ink cartridges, which is a good choice if you need to print high-resolution photographs or images. Laser printers operate with toner cartridges and produce high-quality text with medium-quality image resolution. This means that laser printers are more sufficient for professional use.


While both printers can print in monochrome or color, a laser printer is an ideal option for those who need only black printing.

Print Speed and Volume

If you only need a couple of things printed off here and there, an inkjet printer can do the job. However, jobs that require high volumes of printing at exceptional speed should only be expected from a laser printer.

Business Features

Laser printers offer a variety of business features that help make your printing jobs easier. With paper trays, higher replacement supply yields, and enhanced security options, a laser printer can assist you with your work in ways that a simple inkjet printer cannot.


Inkjet printers are often cheap to buy but can quickly become a hefty expense with the constant replacement of ink cartridges. Laser printers are more costly at first but eventually lead to lower expenses thanks to their long-lasting toner cartridges.

Choosing Supplies Outlet is a leading online retailer specializing in computer supplies and accessories. Our management team has a combined experience of over 30 years, so you can rest assured that we can provide you with a knowledgeable and helpful customer experience. We offer high-quality compatible and remanufactured printer cartridges to save you money and maintain the superior quality products we know you deserve. 

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