Printer Ink vs. Toner: What’s the Difference?

Printer Ink vs. Toner: What’s the Difference?

Over the past few years, a radical shift has been made in the way most Americans view work. A huge percentage of the population now views working remotely from home as the preferred way of logging their hours. In the years to come, we’ll likely see remote work become more and more popular.

While there are many benefits to working from home, it comes with new challenges for the average worker as well. For example, it means being in charge of the needs of your own home office. It’ll be up to you to keep everything running smoothly.

Do you know the difference between ink vs toner? Keeping your printer active and ready will be one such responsibility, and you won’t be able to do it without recognizing this kind of distinction. 

What’s the difference between printer ink and printer toner? Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.

Printer Ink vs Toner 

If you’re not all too familiar with the inner workings of your office printer, you might not be familiar with how ink or toner works. Those unfamiliar with their printers might even use these terms interchangeably, but they shouldn’t.

Ink and toner are two completely different products, even if they both contribute to the final task of printing. So, what are they, then? 

What is Ink?

Let’s start with printer ink. Printer ink is a liquid substance used in all inkjet-style printers. The ink liquid is made up of a mixture of water and a number of colorants and chemicals. 

This kind of printer ink can be either based on dye or pigments, though dye-based inks tend to be the most common. Dye-based ink tends to produce the vibrant, life-like colors that consumers are looking for.

The downside of dye-based inks is that they are more prone to smudging and may fade as time goes by. Pigment-based ink tends to hold up better against sun, age, and UV rays, but it still is less common in practical use. 

No matter what type of ink, a printer will slowly squeeze out colored liquid to paper via many small nozzles located within the machine. 

Ink comes in a number of different colors in an inkjet printer. Black, cyan, magenta, and yellow ink are among the most common ink cartridge options you’ll find within a printer. These colors can be mixed and combined to create a wide number of other colors and shades. 

Inkjet printers are the most common type of printer to find in the average American home. This is because ink is relatively inexpensive as compared to other printing options, and replacing ink cartridges in a standard printer is relatively easy.

That being said, ink printers tend to need replacements more often than other types of printers might. 

What is Toner?

Toner, on the other hand, is not a liquid at all. It is actually a dry and powdery substance that is made mostly of polyester and other organic compounds. It is frequently used in laser printers as opposed to inkjet printers. 

The powder in the toner becomes statically charged by the machinery, and this charge is what allows the powder to adhere to the paper. An electrostatic version of the printed image is created on a metal drum located within the printer, and this static version is used to apply the toner in the proper locations.

Paper will pass through the printer and over that drum, and the image will be imprinted on the paper as a result. Often, this system is used to print in black and white, though color printing is possible with more expensive models. 

Toner tends to last a long time and can be good for many repeated uses. That being said, it also tends to be on the high end when it comes to overall cost and affordability.

Some toner cartridges come with a drum built-in, so you can replace the drum and the cartridge at the same time. 

Most people will tell you that the working process of a toner-based printer will create more defined and clear images than other types of printers. Toner printers are often found in large offices as opposed to home offices.

The Differences Between Ink and Toner

Now that you have a basic understanding of what ink and toner are, we can more clearly illuminate the differences between the two. The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to ink and toner is that they accomplish the same task (the printing of images) in two totally different ways.

These manners of printing are so different, in fact, that you won’t find ink and toner in the same printing device. They are two printing methods that find use in two different kinds of printers. Inkjet printers use ink and laser printers use toner. 

You won’t find a printer that has both ink and toner in it, there would be no need. They are two totally separate applications. That’s the main difference that you’ll want to cement in your mind. 

If you’re trying to determine which is present in your home office, all you’ll need to do is look into what type of printer you have. If you’re running off an inkjet printer, as most home offices are, you’ll have your answer.

If you aren’t sure, your printer manual should list out the type of printer you have and what types of cartridges you need to buy. 

What if you don’t have a printer yet and are considering which path to take forward in creating your home office? You’ll want to think about the pros and cons when it comes to the types of printers out there. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Ink-Based Printer

As we’ve mentioned, when it comes to a home office, most families prefer to purchase an inkjet printer for many reasons. For one, most ink-based printers also have the ability to scan, fax, and copy. 

The major reason, however, is their relative inexpensiveness. You can print high-quality color photos on an inkjet printer at a comparatively low cost. The money it would cost to get a color laser printer is quite high, and inkjet models are so much more affordable. 

Depending on how much you use your printer, cartridge replacement could get pricy. However, if you’re only using your printer when necessary, there’s really no need to worry about this kind of replacement cost. If you tend to print a lot, and often use color, the replacement cost might be more of an issue. 

There are some risks that come with investing in an ink-based printer if you are planning on using it quite frequently. With repeated use, ink cartridges can get clogged, and this kind of printer is more prone to disruption and error.

Sometimes the heads of the cartridge dry out, or they fall out of line with the machinery inside the printer. If you use your printer all the time, running into these problems is going to be a more frequent issue. 

At the end of the day, the big deciding factor when it comes to ink-based printers is considering how often you are going to use the machine. If you’re planning on using the machine daily, an inkjet printer might prove to have more disadvantages than advantages. 

However, if you are investing in a printer just to have one nearby should you need it, an inkjet printer is likely the better investment. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Toner-Based Printer

If you are doing more high-volume printing, you’re going to want to go with a toner-based printer. It’s for this reason that toner-based printers tend to be more common in schools and at large offices. They are most efficient and cost-effective when it comes to printing large quantities.

The one exception? If you’re doing mostly color photo printing. Unless you have a lot of money to drop on a top-of-the-line laser printer, most laser printing options are not going to be stellar at printing a multi-color image.

These types of printers are much more well-suited for printing documents. The tonal distinctions are lacking when the printer is used to produce photographs, and you’re likely to be dissatisfied with the final result. 

If photographs aren’t your aim, there’s a lot to love about a toner-based printer. Monochrome laser printers, those that can’t print in color, tend to be quite affordable these days. They are also made in a way that is more compact.

The main advantage of a toner printer? They can be more cost-effective if you plan on printing a lot. While the initial cost of a toner cartridge might be higher than ink, a toner cartridge will also last much longer. That means more savings as time goes by. 

Toner cartridges also tend to malfunction less and run into fewer issues. Time is money, as they say, and the type of printer that’s going to require less tech support is going to be an advantageous buy. 

The less printer maintenance you have to worry about, the better.

Toner cartridges can’t get clogged and are more likely to operate smoothly than ink cartridges. You can look into PremiumToners to see more of the advantages of this form of printing. 

Determining Printing Costs

One way to better differentiate between the advantages of ink versus toner? You’ll want to think about it all in terms of cost per page. 

The cost per page is the eventual monetary amount you’ll spend to print one page of any given document. The cost per page will be different depending on what type of printer and what type of cartridge you are using. 

Each printer has a different cartridge yield. Cartridges with a higher page yield are likely to be more expensive upfront but might yield more efficiency and cost-effectiveness as time goes by. 

For example, a black ink cartridge that offers 200 pages of ink might sell for around $20. It’s easy enough to determine the cost per page of this particular cartridge. All you need to do is to divide 200 by 20, and you’ll find that you’re spending about 10 cents per page printed.

Compare this with another cartridge that yields 500 pages but is priced at the higher amount of $40. Are you getting a better deal? With the page per cost coming out to a little over 12 cents per page, the answer is not really. 

These are typical calculations for ink cartridges. However, you’ll find that toner cartridges tend to have a much more favorable cost-per-page ratio.

A toner cartridge might go for something like $110 but yield nearly 6,000 pages. If you do the math there, you’ll come to something close to two cents a page. A much better deal. 

The lower you can get your cost per page, the better long-term you’ll be making when it comes to your printer. 

There are other factors to consider as well. Some printer manufacturers will offer special deals if you buy ink or toner directly from them.

Keeping different savings opportunities in mind when looking for ink or toner replacement can help to get you the best outcome. 

Differences Between Ink and Toner

If you’re not exactly a tech whiz, you might have a hard time understanding the printer that sits in your very own office.

Understanding the differences between ink vs toner can help to illuminate how your device works and how best to invest in your printing in the future. The above information can help ensure you understand the ins and outs to a fuller degree. 

Need more tech advice and information? Keep scrolling our blog for more.

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