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Toner vs Ink: Everything You Need to Know

Patrick Flesch
02/02/2021
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There are a lot of questions to ask when buying a printer. What functions do you need? Should it be color or black and white? How fast does it need to be? But one of the most basic questions is whether a printer uses toner or ink, and what that might mean for your office.

I hope to answer why some printers have toner and others have ink cartridges, and which is better for your needs. Let’s find out all these differences and the pros and cons of printer toner versus ink:

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRINTER TONER VS INK?

In short, ink is liquid and made for inkjet printers. Inkjet printer cartridges are typically cheaper than laser printer cartridges, but do not last as long.

Laser printers use toner, which is a very fine powder (composed mostly of polyester). Laser printers are ideal if you tend to print mostly text-based documents because they can print text two or even three times faster than most inkjet printers.

THE PROS OF PRINTER INK AND TONER

Ink-based printers are generally cheaper and easier to replace, but lack the speed and productivity found in laser technology. Laser printers will cost more up front but are longer-lasting and durable technology.

Toner is better for:

  • Black and white documents
  • Large offices
  • Faster printing (up to 100 pages/minute)

Ink is better for:

  • High-quality photos or anything with bright colors/tonal depth
  • Small/home businesses
  • No need for speed
  • Paper size variety (and this can include fabrics and glossy paper)

THE CONS OF INK AND TONER

If you’re buying based on price — and most consumers are — the choice between a laser printer and an inkjet is simple. If you can afford to pay a little more upfront and if you will only be printing black text documents, a laser printer is ideal. Inkjet printers are far more versatile, which is important for home use, but you’ll pay more in ongoing running costs and will have slower print times.

Toner Cons

  • Toner refills are more expensive

Ink Cons

  • Lower print yield (produces fewer prints in the long run)
  • Cartridges clog easier (especially ones that remain unused for too long)

WHICH IS BEST FOR ME?

So, which is better, ink or toner? The short answer is that it depends on what your needs are at home or the office.

Toner tends to get better printing mileage, as mentioned. That means the general cost-per-page of inkjet printers is higher than laser printers. Laser printers will save you more money in the long run, particularly if you are printing a large volume of pages a week.

HOW TO BUY INK AND TONER

Once you have settled on inkjet or laser technology, resupplying the machines will be important. You can prolong the life of a printer by using the right refills. Your options include:

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Cartridges

Brand-new cartridges are designed and distributed by specific printer manufacturers for use in the same manufacturer's printers (Canon cartridges are designed for use in Canon printers, for example). They're generally the most expensive type of cartridge, but they come with the benefit of a manufacturer's warranty and are guaranteed to work with your printer, providing you purchased cartridges by the same brand that made your printer.

Remanufactured Cartridges

These are used cartridges that have been cleaned and/or repaired before being refilled with ink or toner. Any printer that uses cartridges should be compatible with remanufactured cartridges.

Compatible Cartridges

These can be either new or remanufactured. New compatible cartridges are made from new parts that are meant to copy the OEM cartridge design. Remanufactured compatible cartridges are made up of a combination of new and recycled parts. Like remanufactured cartridges, compatible cartridges tend to be cheaper than their OEM counterparts and should be compatible with any printer that uses cartridges.

Of course, your office may need ink and toner printers for different jobs. With the two types of printers in your office, you can lean on each printer’s strengths If your business needs toner and ink services or if you have any questions about this or any other print-related issues, please reach out to the print experts at the Gordon Flesch Company.

Should You Lease Or Buy?

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