Thermal vs Laser Printer

Beth Huston Profile image

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Updated January 5, 2023

If you’re looking for the best printers, there are endless options on the market. Arming yourself with plenty of knowledge before investing in a new printer is the best thing you can do. The first step is identifying the characteristics you’d like to see in your new model. Comparing a thermal vs. a laser printer is a great start that will help you understand the differences between all these available models.


  • Most consumers agree that image quality is an essential quality for a printer. You’ll find that laser models are the superior choice in this arena.
  • Next, we looked at color printing. Just like with image quality, a laser printer will pull ahead when it comes to color accuracy and reproduction.
  • Finally, we took label printing into consideration. Either option serves a different purpose depending on your personal needs, making this category a draw.

Comparing a Thermal vs a Laser Printer

Looking at different types of printers doesn’t have to be daunting, especially if you’ve done your research before starting your search. For starters, let’s talk about how these two printers work. Thermal printers have a print head made of heated elements that a specially coated thermal paper runs through. On the other hand, a laser printer uses heat to melt the toner onto the paper. For more specific comparisons between them, keep reading.

Insider Tip

Thermal label printing offers great barcode label solutions.

Image Quality

If you’re looking for high-resolution images, you’ll want to stick with laser technology for your next printer. A laser printer is capable of producing accurate, high-quality images, while thermal images tend to be lackluster. Because of this, laser printers pull ahead in this round. You may also want to look into a laser printer vs. a copier machine.

Color Printing

Not only are laser printers known for high-resolution images, but they’re also capable of producing gorgeous colors. On the other hand, thermal printers can sometimes not have colors other than black. Consumers who find color accuracy important will do well to invest in laser models, specifically a color laser printer. Where color is concerned, it’s also worth comparing an inkjet vs. a dye sublimation printer.


The cost of toner makes laser printers expensive to use over time.

Label Printing

Whether you’re producing products or shipping labels, it’s crucial to have a solid process. Picking out the perfect printer is the first step. Thermal label printers are great because they’re efficient and quick. They’re also more durable, so they work well in fast-paced environments, like the backroom of a store. However, your personal needs are critical when buying a label printer. If you want a lot of colors and accurate imagery, the laser printer might be the better option. That makes this category a draw.

STAT: During the period of consideration in 2019, the production value of printed labels amounted to nearly 1.36 billion euros, according to the Bundesverband Druck und Medien (Engl. Federal Print and Media Association). (source)

Thermal vs. Laser Printer FAQs

Why do people choose thermal printing?

Thermal printing is incredibly popular as far as label printing technology goes. This is especially true if you have large label print volumes and only need black ink.

What are the ongoing expenses of laser printing?

One of the biggest expenses is having to purchase toner cartridges. Of course, you’ll also have to factor in the cost of paper, especially if you’re using special types of paper.

How can I guarantee a high print quality?

Choosing the right printing process will be the best way to ensure you get the best print quality possible. However, your best bet will probably be a color laser printer.

What’s the most efficient method of printing durable labels?

Whether you need blank shipping labels or address labels, the most efficient method of printing is using thermal transfer printers. Their thermal print heads make quick work of thermal paper.
Beth Huston Profile image