Before I knew much about printing I always got confused about the different types of printers. The names were strange and hard to pronounce.
It hit me the first time I tried to buy a printer for the office. The price ranges scared me and I didn’t really know where to start. I didn’t exactly want to trust a salesman to explain it all to me – I figured they’d just upsell me anyway. Instead, I got to researching.
I was shocked to see how fast printing technology had advanced and the wide range of printers available for most uses. You might be in the same situation, or perhaps you’re just trying to satisfy your curiosity. Regardless of why you’re here, you’ll be able to find answers to your burning questions.
You might be shocked to find how similar printers can be so different at the same time. This guide will focus on monochrome printers for now. We’ll look at what they are, what they do and how they compare with other printers and printing styles. You’ll discover the common uses you can expect from them, how to get more, and the main reasons to buy them.
Let’s get into the guide!
What is a Monochrome Printer?
This is the reason why you’re here isn’t it? I figured I’d get this question out of the way first, and then move on to the more specific ones later.
This is the printer you’re most likely to find in a professional setting or office.
They say that life is better in color, but this isn’t always the case, especially when it comes to large volumes of printing.
Monochrome printers are those that only print in one color at a time (usually black). They come in a couple of different categories, though it’s enough to know about the two main ones:
- Monochrome laser printers
- Monochrome inkjet printers
Monochrome Laser Printers
Monochrome laser printer means that a high powered laser is used to make the markings that would traditionally be done by ink.
This technology can become pretty confusing, so I won’t get into it too much. Laser printers have some advantages that you should think about when deciding which printer will be best for you:
- They’re cheaper in the long run as you don’t have to buy ink cartridges and refills.
- They print faster than traditional inkjet printers
- The print is less prone to smudging and being made unreadable by water
- The actual print is more accurate and higher quality
These are the main benefits of running a monochrome laser printer. There are of course disadvantages, such as higher repairing cost and faster wear and tear – though this depends heavily on how you use the printer.
Monochrome Inkjet Printers
Monochrome inkjet printers mean those that use ribbons and ink to print on the paper.
There aren’t any fancy lasers that are used or any super-high-tech parts involved.
Think about it as being relatively similar to the way that you write with a pen on paper. It’s like that, but much faster and longer-lasting.
Many companies and professionals still use inkjet printers as they’re:
- Generally easier to repair and clean
- Not so advanced and therefore self-repair is possible
- Don’t draw as much electricity
- The actual printers take less of a capital investment
There are disadvantages such as the cost of replacing the ink regularly. This cost can really add up over time and negate the savings made by choosing the cheaper printer.
The printing is also less sharp and lower quality than laser printers.
Here’s What I Recommend
If you’re looking for a printer for an office that does copious amounts of printing, then I’d suggest that you use a monochrome laser printer.
The quality is more consistent and generally higher than what inkjet printers produce.
You’ll need to consider the cost though, as laser printers are much more expensive and are also costlier to repair when they get damaged.
The overall maintenance cost needs to be balanced against the savings made from not needing to buy ink replacements – this is why I say they’re better in a large office with large printing demands.
If you’re using a monochrome printer for home use or for a small to medium-sized office, then a monochrome inkjet printer may be better for you.
They’re cheaper to buy in the first place and work well with lower printing quantities.
Repair isn’t as expensive and the main recurring cost will be the ink cartridges and refills – which are why it’s better suited to smaller-scale use.
Monochrome Printers vs Color Printers
This is a deep question, so I’ll break it down into smaller parts that are easier to understand and remember.
I think the best way for you to compare them would be to look at the strongest points of each and see what better suits your needs.
Here’re the pros of a monochrome printer:
- They’re cheaper to buy than color printers
- Prints faster than colored printers
- Long term costs are lower than colored printers
- Far cheaper when printing large numbers of documents, especially when they need to print multiple copies of each page
- Require less maintenance than color printers
Here’re the pros of a color printer:
- Far more versatile in terms of what they can print
- They can print colored documents and this can be essential at times
- They can print different shades of colors, which is better for some types of documents
These are just the main benefits. There will be several times when you don’t have a choice and absolutely need to use a colored printer.
This is why larger offices and businesses have colored printers available, but not as the main printing resources.
They’re a lot more expensive and harder to maintain, so you need to decide which better fills you or your company’s needs.
I mentioned how colored printers can produce different shades of colors. I’d like to talk more about that – which leads us to the next point.
Monochrome vs Grayscale Printing
No, this isn’t the skin disease from Game of Thrones. It’s far less deadly and far more useful in an office.
Monochrome printing only has the ability to contrast between two colors; black and white.
There are no toners or mixing these to get different shades. Monochrome printers are better for printing anything where you want to have black on a white background.
Grayscale printing, on the other hand, has toners that let you print a wide range of black, gray and white shades.
It helps to think of printing black and white photography to understand the application of a grayscale printer.
You’d use this for any kind of printing that needs various shades of black, white and gray – without needing to shell out for a color printer, only to use it for grayscale printing.
P.S. If you’re wondering what saves more ink monochrome or grayscale – the answer is grayscale saves more ink as you don’t need to have the same depth of blacks.
Can a Monochrome Printer Print Color?
Other than being a tricky tongue-twister, this question is asked all the time.
Our “What is a monochrome printer?” question has already been answered and we know that the color is almost always black.
The question I had when I first heard of this was “Can’t I just replace the black ink with another color and print solely with that color?”
The monochrome printer can only print in black. You’ll only have one shade of black and no ability to alter the depth or coloring of the black.
If you want this, you’ll need to get a grayscale printer.
A monochrome inkjet printer will tend to print lighter shade blacks that appear gray when the ink cartridge starts to run out.
Best Monochrome Printers for Home Use
This will depend on your needs.
If you’re handy and are able to do self-maintenance on your printers, then I’d suggest you go for a monochrome inkjet printer.
This is especially true if you aren’t going to be printing tons of copies and don’t need super-high quality printouts for business use.
These monochrome inkjet printers will save you money in the short term – but they might catch you out with their long term costs.
If you do repairing and cleaning yourself, you’ll save quite a bit of cash going with this option.
If you do lots of printing at home and don’t mind having your printer manually cleaned, then a monochrome laser printer might be the best option for you.
It’s a little more expensive to buy initially, but if you take good care of it, your long term costs will be minimal.
The quality is superior to inkjet printers, so you’ll be more than able to use the printouts in a professional setting – and pump out more copies in a shorter time.
It all comes down to finding the right balance and making cuts where you can.
This will save you cash and time throughout the life of your printer. Just remember there isn’t much use in getting something expensive if you never use it to its full potential.
Here Are Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How often do I need to clean my printer?
A: This depends on how frequently you use it. I generally do it every couple of months and do a light cleaning every time I change the ink and cartridges.
If you’re using a laser printer, I’d suggest you get it cleaned and maintained every 6 months. If you use it very often and quite heavily, then you might want to get this done more often. The alternative is to learn how to do it yourself and save yourself some cash.
Q: How long will an ink cartridge last?
A: Bear in mind that the ink cartridge lifespan isn’t the same as the ink refills. The refill will decide how many words you can print from one refill – and this varies hugely. The quality of the printer, the ink, and even the paper can change this figure drastically.
As for the ink cartridge; the lifespan is around 24 months. Over time, the ink dries and begins to fill up storage space with dry ink. Over time, depending on how much you use the printer, you’ll have to replace it or accept sub-par quality. I generally get around 2 years of effective use before I need to replace and ink cartridge.
Q: Does a laser printer last longer than an inkjet printer?
A: Laser printers use toners and they last much longer than inkjet printers. They need less frequent cleaning too, and this makes them far easier to handle in the long run. The trade-off is that laser printers are quite a bit more expensive than inkjet printers.
We’ve taken time to answer the burning “What is a monochrome printer?” question.
We’ve not only looked into monochrome printers and their different types – but also some printers that they have to compete against.
You should have a very good idea on how to best use the monochrome and color printers, and how to get the most out of them.
We’ve looked at how to find the right balance between cost, features, longevity, and performance.
There’s no perfect printer, so it’s your needs that should drive your decision. Don’t get caught up in trying to find the perfect one – you won’t.
There are trade-offs that need to be made, and some excellent printers are complete trash when used in unintended ways.
It’s up to you to carefully layout what you need, and how much you’re willing to pay for it. Don’t forget the long term commitment either.
Printing is often the biggest office expense that businesses have to front. It adds up quickly if special attention isn’t paid to it. A small decision like the ones in this guide can save you lots of money and make a tangible difference.
What is a monochrome printer? Now you know all you need to make a sound buying decision. Enjoy the success ahead!