Tech Terminology: Print Toner

Tech Terminology: Print Toner

Businesses all over the world are making strides to limit printed documents if they aren’t needed, and a large part of this is that printers require a lot of specific resources. Depending on the model, a printer might need ink, but the laser printers require a product called “toner” to work as intended. This week’s tech term is dedicated to the difference between ink and toner, as well as which one you’ll need for your specific printer.

Ink vs Toner
First, we’ll have to explain the difference between ink and toner. Ink is made by mixing a pigment with a liquid base, like water or alcohol. Nowadays it’s made of synthetic material, but for a long time, it was made using various plants and minerals found throughout the world. Oil-based ink was used in the first printing press, developed in 1440, resulting in a major push forward for human civilization.

Toner, on the other hand, is more of a powdery substance that is used in laser printers. In the past, it was made with carbon powder and iron oxide mixed with a polymer. Rather than being printed onto the page, toner is basically melted onto the page, resulting in a much faster process. Found inside laser printer cartridges, toner comes in sets of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Cost is calculated on a per-page basis, so upfront costs generally aren’t taken into account. A good example is the use of laser printers, which are more expensive than their ink-fueled counterparts, but can finish print jobs much more quickly and in a more sustainable manner. This speed is able to offset any price issues that come from their use. Here are some other pros and cons of toner-based printing:


  • Toner-based printers tend to last longer: Comparing the lifespans of the two, a laser printer will generally outlast an ink-based printer, producing more pages.
  • Toner-based printers tend to produce better prints: A laser printer is more precise, leading to higher-quality images and better prints. Over time, a laser printer will produce superior prints to an ink-based printer.
  • Toner-based printers are much faster: As perhaps the biggest benefit, laser printing is much faster than ink-based printing. For companies that have a lot of printing to do, a laser printer is simply the better product.


  • Toner-based printers (and refills) are more expensive: The better the technology is, the higher the price tag. You’ll be paying more for replacement toner cartridges, even if you’ll be getting more out of them in the long term.
  • Toner is messy if you refill your own cartridges: Refilling ink-based cartridges isn’t the easiest either, but if you are trying to save money, know that refilling a laser printer toner cartridge is difficult and you may not get the print quality you would with a new cartridge.

Knowing how your printers work is critical to your business’ success. For help in making the best printing choices possible, give BNMC a call at 978-482-2020.



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