Ink vs toner. Here are the key differences

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A laser printer uses toner. An inkjet printer uses ink in the printing process. What to choose? Which will be better for our use?

A printer is a necessary device in almost every office. Many people want to have it in their households as well. Printers vary in size, specification and intended use. The basic division, due to the material they use in the printing process are laser and inkjet printers. The former require toner. Inkjet printers, as the name suggests, are supplied with ink. What to choose?

Inkjet printer cartridge

The cartridge of an inkjet printer is ink. In this method, printing is done wet. The pigment is applied to the paper in two ways. Either by mechanical heads or by gas bubbles in bubble cartridges. A cartridge is nothing but a special reservoir of substance that the printer uses to transfer the information received from the computer to the paper.

With bubble cartridges, the ink is first heated so that bubbles are formed. These distribute the pigment on the paper. The heated ink combines with the paper to create a permanent print.

Laser printer cartridge

A laser printer prints due to the presence of toner in the cartridge. Toner, unlike ink, is in solid form. It is a finely ground powder that imparts color. In the case of this method of printing, we speak of dry printing. The printer produces a laser beam and directs it onto a photosensitive drum with electrostatic properties. The drum attracts the ground powder and melts it into the paper in the next step. This is how the printout ordered for the computer appears.

The difference in costs

Looking at the prices of printing devices themselves and the costs associated with replacing ink and toner, the choice seems clear. Inkjet printers fare much better in this comparison. Not only is the device itself more affordable. A handy printer for home use can be bought for as little as PLN 150 – 200. Inks for inkjet printers are not expensive either.

However, if you want to make a more rational and fair decision, you need to compare one more parameter: performance. In this category, the laser printer is a definite favorite. Once purchased, a toner cartridge allows you to make many more prints than an ink cartridge. A laser printer works faster. It gives you the ability to print more pages in the same amount of time as an inkjet printer. Another advantage is that due to the printing technology used, laser printers are less messy. Wet printing can cause ink smudging and spotting.

Ink or toner – which to choose?

To make the right choice, think carefully about what you need before buying a printer. If you’re thinking of printing small amounts of documents occasionally, an inkjet printer is a better choice. It is cheaper to buy and use. For amateur purposes, it should be completely sufficient. What we have to remember is to run the device at least once every two weeks. Otherwise, the ink may dry in the device, which may lead to its failure.

If we are looking for a device for business and professional use and we plan to print a lot of materials, documents and photos – a laser printer will be a better option. Before buying a device, however, it is worth to find out about the availability of toners. The market of original toners and their replacements is very large. However, not all printers have the possibility of replacing the toner with a cheaper equivalent. The third option are toners with the possibility of regeneration, i.e. refilling. This can also be an affordable solution for us. Replacing the toner itself is very simple, and due to its high efficiency, you do not have to do it often.

Main photo: cottonbro/

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