Printer Ink vs Toner: What’s the Difference?


When it comes to choosing a printer, the choice between a laser or an inkjet printer can be made easier by looking at the type of printing fuel you are using.

Laser printers generally use toner, while inkjet printers use ink-based cartridges, both offering a slightly different end result.

Here we take an in-depth look at the differences in price, yield and finish to help you and your organization make the right business printer decision.

Printer Ink vs Toner: What’s the Difference?

The first thing to note is that the two are drastically different substances.

Printer ink is usually a form of liquid or paste filled with pigments, which are the types of cartridges you find in inkjet printers. The pigment gives it its color and usually comes from a variety of sources, namely dyes. Inkjet printers used this ink to spray tiny drops of liquid onto paper to replicate the digital image.

Toner, on the other hand, is a type of fine, dry powder used in laser printers. It is a mixture of polyester or plastic particles, carbon and various other coloring materials that is filled into cylinders. This mixture is transferred to paper by an electrostatically charged drum unit and then fixed to the paper by the printer’s heated rollers. The fact that it’s in powder form makes it cheap to store, ship, and use.

However, there are also three types of toner cartridges – “OEM”, “Compatible” and “Remanufactured”, each of which can affect the overall quality of the toner. OEM or “Original Equipment Manufacturer” comes in the form of officially branded cartridges, such as B. Canon or Epson, and are recommended for their own brand printers.

Compatible or alternative cartridges are sold by third party manufacturers and are often cheaper options but can be less reliable than OEM versions. And remanufactured cartridges are exactly what their name suggests – reused cartridges that are refilled with new toner. These can be faulty and disruptive, often prone to leaks, but are still cheap and environmentally friendly.

As for the printers themselves, toner-based laser printers are typically more expensive than ink-based inkjet printers — although this can vary significantly depending on the model you buy.

Printer Ink vs. Toner: Page Yield

A businesswoman holds a stack of papers that have just been printed

When it comes to the end product, there is quite a bit of math to do when purchasing. First, you pay less upfront for printer ink.

For example, Ink cartridges for HP 364 printers Available in packs of 4 for EUR 49. Each cartridge uses 300 sheets of paper, so that’s around £12.25 per cartridge and 4p per sheet of paper. It’s worth noting that the “300” estimate is roughly based on a small sample of text on paper, rather than whole sheets. So if you’re using a lot of ink-intensive graphics per sheet, it’s going to run out a lot quicker and be a lot more expensive.

HP’s three-pack of high-capacity toner cartridges also costs around 4p per page, but users will have to shell out more for it to begin with as the package costs £305.99. The three cartridges can each produce 2,300 pages, but again, your usage may vary depending on your business’ printing needs.

Printer Ink vs. Toner: End of Page

A woman holding a freshly printed test page for a magazine cover

The type of surface treatment you are looking for is often a good place to start when deciding on ink or toner. This means that you look at the type of printer you want to use.

Inkjet printers are good for high-quality color images because they offer better tonal variety and color mixing. This makes them good for images and/or graphic designs. In addition, inkjet printers can work on a variety of papers, including glossy paper. Paper type is also a reason to choose inkjet over toner, as the latter cannot be used with heat-sensitive paper types.

The benefits of toner and toner largely boil down to the fact that it is a powder, which means it can be stored for long periods of time without becoming unusable. So companies can easily stock up on toner.

It’s also good if you need a lot of high-quality black and white images. They don’t perform as well as inkjet printers when it comes to color, but are generally faster and have more capacity, while inkjet printers tend to be more compact and therefore better suited for the home office.

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