Printing labels can be a frustrating experience, especially if you have the wrong type of labels for your printer. When it comes to printing labels, there are two main types of printers – inkjet and laser. As the names suggest, inkjet printers use ink cartridges to print while laser printers use toner. The type of label you need depends on which printer you have. So can you print laser labels with an inkjet printer?
Inkjet vs Laser Printers
Before diving into printing specifics, let’s go over the key differences between inkjet and laser printers:
- Use liquid ink cartridges to print
- Best for printing documents and photos occasionally
- More affordable upfront cost
- Ink is more expensive over time
- Offer high print quality on glossy paper
- Slower print speeds than laser printers
- Use dry toner powder to print
- Best for frequent, high volume printing
- Higher upfront cost than inkjets
- Toner is less expensive per page than ink
- Fast print speeds, ideal for business use
- Crisp text output but lower photo print quality
As you can see, inkjet and laser printers work quite differently. This also means they require different types of labels designed specifically for each printing process.
Labels for Inkjet vs Laser Printers
There are a few key differences between labels made for inkjet printers and those made for laser printers:
- Coated for absorption of inkjet ink
- Ink dries on surface of label
- More flexibility in label materials like glossy paper
- Lower heat tolerance
- Uncoated surface so toner can bond directly
- Toner fuses into label material when heated
- Made from paper designed to withstand high heat
- Less flexibility in label materials
Due to the printing process, laser printer labels need to withstand much higher heat than inkjet labels. This means you should always match the correct label type to printer type.
Can You Use Laser Labels in an Inkjet Printer?
Now that we’ve compared inkjet and laser labels, let’s get to the key question – can you print laser labels in an inkjet printer?
The short answer is no, you should not use laser labels in an inkjet printer. Here are a few reasons why:
- Ink won’t bond well to the label surface – Laser labels have an uncoated surface so the toner can fuse directly into the material. Inkjet ink is formulated to bond with coated surfaces and will not adhere well to laser label material.
- Print quality will be poor – Without a coating designed for inkjet ink absorption, you’ll end up with blurry, messy prints that are difficult to read.
- Labels may jam the printer – Laser labels are designed to withstand high heat and pressure inside a laser printer. They are thicker and less flexible than inkjet labels, increasing the risk of jamming in an inkjet printer.
- Laser labels can damage inkjet printers – Attempting to run thick, unbendable laser labels through an inkjet printer can potentially damage components not designed to handle that material.
While it may seem like a good hack to save money, using laser labels in an inkjet printer is ill-advised. The results will be low quality at best and you risk damaging your printer.
Best Practices for Printing Labels
To ensure you get great results printing labels, follow these best practices:
- Always match label type to printer type – Inkjet labels for inkjet printers, and laser labels for laser printers.
- Check label material compatibility – If printing on uncommon materials like fabric or metal, check that your printer can handle it.
- Use labels designed for your model – Labels come in different shapes and sizes. Make sure yours are made specifically for your printer.
- Print a test sheet first – Whenever using a new label template or material, print one test sheet before the whole batch to ensure proper printing.
- Slow print speed for precision – For critical label jobs, reduce print speed in your settings to maximise precision.
- Maintain steady temperature and humidity -Label materials are sensitive to humidity and temperature. Keep conditions steady in your print environment.
Following label best practices prevents wasted supplies from poor prints and ensures your printer operates safely. Always match inkjet printers with inkjet labels, and laser printers with laser labels.
Alternative Options to Print Laser Labels with Inkjet Printer
While you should not directly run laser labels through an inkjet printer, there are some alternative options to print laser labels if you only have an inkjet printer available:
- Use label sheets designed for inkjet printing – Several companies like OnlineLabels and SheetLabels offer inkjet compatible sheets of laser labels. This allows inkjet ink to bond while giving the flexibility of laser label sizes.
- Print on laser paper then stick – You can print your designs on laser paper using your inkjet printer, then stick the paper onto laser label sheets as needed.
- Outsource printing – Many copy shops like FedEx Office offer full colour laser label printing for reasonable rates. They have the right printers and supplies to print your labels.
- Buy a cheap laser printer – Basic laser printers can be purchased relatively affordably if you only need to print labels occasionally. Look for a model under $150.
While less convenient than direct laser label printing, these inkjet workarounds allow you to create the label designs you need even without a laser printer on hand.
- Inkjet printers require labels coated specifically for inkjet ink, while laser printers require uncoated label material.
- You should never use laser labels in an inkjet printer – ink won’t bond well, print quality is poor, and jams/damage can occur.
- To print laser labels with an inkjet printer, use inkjet-compatible laser sheets, print then stick, outsource printing, or purchase an inexpensive laser printer.
- Always match the correct label type to your printer model for best print quality and to avoid printer damage.
FAQ about Printing Laser Labels with Inkjet Printers
- Can I use laser labels in an inkjet printer in a pinch if I change the settings?
No, you should never use laser labels in an inkjet printer, even if adjusting print settings. Inkjet printers are not designed to handle laser label material.
- Why can’t I flip the labels over and print on the back with my inkjet?
Most laser labels do not have a coated back side designed for inkjet ink. You’ll still run into issues with poor ink bonding and print quality.
- Will my inkjet printer be ruined if I try to print a sheet or two of laser labels?
It’s possible – jamming and attempting to bend rigid laser labels can damage components in your inkjet printer over time. Avoid trying it.
- Can’t I just use a laser label sheet meant for inkjet printers?
Yes, some companies make hybrid laser label sheets designed specifically for inkjet printing. These have inkjet receptive surfaces and laser label dimensions.
- Is there any household item I can coat laser labels with to make them work in inkjets?
No, there is no safe DIY coating you can apply to laser labels at home that will make them properly functional in an inkjet printer.
- My inkjet is a photo printer with great print quality – shouldn’t it still print well on laser labels?
Even high end inkjet photo printers are not designed for laser label material. The ink will not bond or absorb as intended, resulting in poor quality.
- If I print laser labels as an image with an inkjet, can I then peel the printed paper off and stick it on labels?
Yes, this workaround can work if your labels are a standard paper size. Print them as images, carefully peel off, and apply the printed paper to the laser labels.
- Can’t I take the label sheets apart and feed the laser labels through my inkjet one by one?
Not recommended. The labels are still too rigid and thick, increasing chances of jamming and potential damage to the printer components.
- What if I need a mix of inkjet and laser labels for my business? Should I buy two printers?
For professional use, it may be worth investing in one inkjet and one basic laser printer to easily produce both label types conveniently.
- Is one label printer type better than the other? Which should I choose?
It depends on your specific printing needs. Laser printers are better for high volume text printing while inkjets excel at graphics and photos. Evaluate your usage to determine which type suits your needs.
- Are third party laser label cartridges safe to use in my laser printer?
In general, it’s best to stick to OEM laser labels to ensure optimal performance and avoid any issues. But reliable third party options are available if needed.
- Can I use plain paper in my laser printer to test before using labels?
Yes, plain paper is a good way to test alignment, positioning, and print quality before moving on to your more expensive label sheets. Just use the paper size/weight your laser printer supports.
- My inkjet makes weird noises printing on label sheets. Is something wrong?
Some minor noise when printing labels is normal, but loud grinding or squealing noises could indicate a problem. Make sure to use labels recommended for your model.
- How can I make homemade labels for my inkjet printer?
You can make DIY labels by coating paper, cardstock or other materials with products like sticker paper, packing tape, or self-adhesive laminate sheets designed for inkjet inks. Conclusion
While mixing label types between laser and inkjet printers may seem like a solution in a pinch, it is an unreliable workaround at best and risks damaging your printer. Always use the correct label type designed specifically for your inkjet or laser printer to ensure high quality prints. If you need the flexibility of both label formats, consider purchasing an affordable standalone laser printer for printing laser labels rather than attempting to use them in an inkjet printer. Following label material guidelines will prevent wasted supplies and keep your printer working safely for the long haul.