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Toner vs. Ink: What's the Difference?

Toner vs. Ink: What's the Difference?

Sep 23rd 2021

You have undoubtedly heard of ink vs. toner for a printer. But what is toner, and how does it differ from ink? Each type of cartridge has many advantages, and they both produce outstanding results on the page. However, you may find that one type of ink is better-suited to the work you perform.

Learning the similarities and differences between toner and ink cartridges can help you decide what to use at home or work. Discover the advantages of these very different forms of printing.

Ink Cartridges

Ink cartridges contain liquid ink made from chemicals, colorants and water. The liquid may include linseed or petroleum solution. An inkjet printer applies the ink directly to the page, squirting the liquid through little nozzles. Those small amounts combine to form the words and images on a page. You can use all-black or color ink, depending on what you want to print.

The liquid in cartridges can dry out, so you need to use your printer regularly to avoid the problem. The cartridges take up relatively little space. You can hold them in one hand and replace them easily.

Toner Cartridges

Toner consists of powder made from organic compounds, including ground-up plastic and silica, which keeps the particles from sticking together. Toner also contains zinc and iron to help the particles retain their charge. Toner works with laser printers, which have a hopper that creates a positive static charge in the toner. The drum roller in the printer exhibits a negative charge, and so when heat is applied, it makes the image on the page.

Colored printer toner includes a pigment to make it yellow, magenta, cyan or black. Toner cartridges are large, sometimes even the length of the printer.

The Major Differences Between Ink and Toner

While ink and toner produce the same general results, images and words printed on the page, they have many differences, such as:

  • Printing time: Toner cartridges print faster than ink cartridges.
  • Cartridge replacement: If you have a color inkjet printer and one color is running out, you will need to replace the entire thing for most printers.
  • Cost: Toner cartridges and laser printers cost more than ink cartridges and inkjet printers. However, you will also get a longer life out of the toner and laser, so you may find them more cost-efficient in the long run if you can afford the initial investment.
  • Size: Ink cartridges are much smaller than toner ones. Ink cartridges take up about a quarter or fifth of the space toner cartridges do. You need less storage space for ink cartridges. Toner cartridges have a longer length than width.
  • Photo quality: Inkjet printers produce better-looking photos than printers that use toner cartridges. Inkjet reproduces the tonal distinctions that are important to a good photo, while toner photos can appear powdery.

Ink and toner also have similarities. You should use them both relatively soon after purchasing them and store the cartridges in room-temperature, dark locations.

Which Is Better?

The better choice for you depends on what you want to print. If you need a printer cartridge for work, toner may be the better choice. Most offices produce lots of pages in a short time. You may print out reports, evaluations, handouts and more. Printers used in commercial and office settings generally employ toner cartridges because they handle high-volume printing well. The toner produces more pages than ink, and the images come out more clearly.

Other advantages of toner printers include:

  • Clearer finished product on the page.
  • Pages come out faster than with ink printers.
  • Excellent cost value over the long run.

While offices call for high-volume printing, you need much less sophisticated systems at home. An inkjet printer may be the better solution if you only need to print your kids' homework assignments or the occasional personal document. Ink cartridges are less expensive than toner, and inkjet printers have lower prices, too.

It is less likely to smudge when you print with ink, which makes it ideal for younger family members to use. Printer cartridges are easier to replace. You may have an IT team at work that can get a toner cartridge in place, but you want something at home you can get working again in a few minutes.

Find What You Need at Supplies Outlet

Whether you need an ink cartridge or a toner cartridge, Supplies Outlet has the printer supplies you need. We sell compatible cartridges for an average of 60% off the brand-name price. You can find the right product for less when you shop at Supplies Outlet.

Our offerings include printer cartridges that are compatible with brands like CanonBrother and HP. We offer fast shipping, and we provide the best value for printer supplies. Browse our selection and contact us to learn more about our products.