sublimation printer vs laser printer

Sublimation Printer vs. Laser Printer: 7 Key Differences

Aside from inkjet printers, you can also do sublimation printing on sublimation printers and laser printers. Sublimation printer vs. Laser printer:

The main difference between sublimation printer and laser printer lies in the delivery. The sublimation printer uses heat to turn dye into gas, penetrating the print surface before turning solid. The laser printer pulls toners from the cartridges before placing them onto the print surface.

Samsung Printer

Sublimation Printer vs. Laser Printer

Key Differences:Sublimation Printer:Laser Printer:
1. Print QualityHigh-quality prints, vibrant colorsGood quality
2. Print SpeedSlowFast
3. CostMore expensiveHigh setup cost, expensive toners
4. Print TechHeat turns solid dye to gasLaser, static electricity, toner
5. SmudgingNo smudgingLittle bit smudging
6. Noise LevelQuietMore Quiet
7. ApplicationFabric, special substratesPrinting in high volume, in offices

How Does Sublimation Printer Work?

A sublimation printer works by converting solid dye into gas using a heating element. The gas is then expelled onto the paper. The gaseous dye penetrates the surface of the print surface before solidifying.

The “inks” used in sublimation exist in the form of a solid ribbon, typically made from cellophane. Their width corresponds to the largest possible page size that can be printed. Learn more about sublimation ink.

  1. The print head moves over the ribbon during the printing process, heating it up to the point where the dye transforms into gas, leaves the ribbon, and goes to the substrate (print surface). This happens as the print head moves over the ribbon over the print surface.
  2. When the dye reaches room temperature, it solidifies as it seals a permanent bond with the fibers of the substrate and settles. That completes the printing process.

If you’re new to sublimation printing, we highly recommend checking out this complete beginner’s guide to sublimation printing.

Strength & Weakness Of Sublimation Printers

Sublimation printers, in general, produce higher-quality images with more vibrant colors. You also don’t get smudges with sublimation printers. It does, however, cost more and take longer to complete, and sublimation printers are typically larger and heavier.

Sublimation printers perform better when printing high-quality photos and documents where color accuracy is critical.

Sublimation printers send hot gases containing inks over to the substrate. This means that when you print with a sublimation printer, the print will settle faster. As a result, the print doesn’t “spread” on the substrate, so you don’t get smudges and smears.

Sublimation printing typically produces images with a continuous tone. The images also usually won’t fade. The print may be waterproof.

Depending on the substrate, it may resist water damage. However, you may get less color saturation in the printed result.

But still, we recommend checking out this guide on why sublimation prints fade if you want to learn more about the fading reasons and fixes.

Printers and businesses see sublimation as one of the most effective methods for printing polyester shirts. The design adheres well and can withstand numerous washings before fading.

Sublimation printers can also print on larger substrates. A sublimation printer can manage up to 45 inches (114cm) in length, depending on the type of printer.

However, sublimation printers have their own set of flaws. First sublimation printers print slower than inkjet printers. The constant need to keep the print head hot enough to convert the solid inks on the ribbon to gas cause the reduction in speed.

Sublimation printers cost more in general. Because sublimation inks are more expensive, you may spend more per print.

The Sublimation printers themselves also cost more than inkjet printers. Read this guide on the difference between sublimation printers and inkjet printers for more insights.

Sublimation printers are also typically larger and heavier than laser printers, making them more challenging to transport and move, particularly when transporting a printer to a temporary location.

How Does a Laser Printer Work?

A laser printer works by first using a laser to create an impression of your print. It will then use static electricity to attract powdered toner to the cylinder. The toner then rolls onto the paper. Once rolled on, the toner melts and you press it onto the paper using the rollers.

The printing process of a laser printer can be described in nine distinct steps:

  1. You send the printout to the laser printer from the computer. Most of the time, you use an ethernet cable, unless the printer has wireless capabilities.
  2. Then, the printer will start to heat the corona wire up. Once this wire heats, it sends a charge of electricity to the drum unit.
  3. The electricity fills the drum unit with positive charges. It is now ready to receive the laser beam and start transferring data directly onto the drum.
  4. The laser unit in the printer now beams, bouncing off against moving mirrors, and goes straight to the drum unit.
  5. When the beam hits the drum, the charge changes from negative to positive in the spots where the beam hits. The negatively charged spots are where the toner particles will stick to the drum and go straight onto the paper.
  6. The drum now starts to get toner on it from the ink roller. Toner, made up of tiny bits of ink, are now positively charged and stick to the areas on the drum unit that are negatively charged.
  7. You move a piece of paper with a positive charge close to the drum. This makes the negatively charged toner particles stick to the paper.
  8. The paper, which now has ink, goes into the fuser unit, where rollers melt the toner particles onto the paper.
  9. The page then moves to the other side of the copier, and you now have one printout.

Laser Printer

Strength & Weakness Of Laser Printers

Laser printers have the fastest printing speed and print more quietly than other printers. Laser prints also do not need time to dry. However, laser printers are expensive, and printer toners are much more expensive than sublimation ink. 

People appreciate laser printers for their printing speed compared to inkjet or dot matrix printers. This makes laser printers popular to businesses that print in larger numbers, such as with flyers. 

Laser printers also operate more quietly compared to other printer types. This might not be important to many, as printers are expected to make noise. However, in specific fields of work, a quiet office is essential, and a laser printer works best.

Laser printers work by transferring dry toner onto the print surface, meaning you don’t deal with liquid ink. This means printouts from laser printers do not need time to dry, nor does the printout leave damp patches on the paper. 

This feature is essential for printing large amounts of paper. When a someone prints a large amount of paper, the sheets stack up against each other. Wet inks would easily smudge under such conditions.

The downside of laser printers, however, is the cost. Check this article about sublimation printer costs for more insights. It is often expensive to purchase to set up.

There are also issues with the cost of toners, as they are also more expensive than sublimation inks.

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