What Is the Difference Between Toner and Ink?

Ink and toner—aren’t these two printer components just the same thing? Nope, they’re actually different! Ink cartridges use liquid ink or dye, while toners need powder to transfer colour onto paper.

Even with similar purposes, you can’t simply buy either of the two to begin printing. They’re meant for specific printer models and won’t work if you buy the wrong cartridge type. Save yourself from common printing mistakes by learning more about the difference between ink and toner.

What Is an Ink Cartridge?

Inkjet printers print texts, photos, and graphics using printer ink. Their cartridges utilize liquid dye to dispense and distribute colours onto a page. They come in compact or refillable containers of different sizes but usually have nozzles to provide a swift exit for the ink.

In a printer store, you’ll often see four ink colours: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) These are the key colours an inkjet printer needs to mix and create high-quality images.

A set of ink cartridges

What Is a Toner Cartridge?

On the other hand, laser printers use toner cartridges to print documents and images. These cartridges contain tightly packed powder, which is heated by the laser to create the dye. Once the dye is ready, the laser printer stamps the colour onto the paper.

Toners have a bulkier appearance compared to ink cartridges. They are long rectangular boxes containing a cylinder of powder dye inside. Like ink, toners also use the CMYK key colours to create various colour combinations and print superb images.

Ink vs Toner: What You Need to Know About Their Differences

Let’s take a more detailed look at the difference between ink and toner. Here’s a summary of how they fare in these four categories: cost, cartridge longevity, print quality, speed, volume, and environmental impact.

Toner vs Ink: Cost

Ink is cheaper due to its small size and abundance in stores, while toner has higher prices since it requires more material to build its bulky appearance.

Starting with an inkjet printer is the best option for offices because of its affordability. This printer type delivers superb printing quality for documents and images. Its low prices also allow you to easily restock when needed.

But if you have a bigger budget, go for a laser printer. Its expensive upfront costs, including the toner itself, may offset all future troubles because they last longer than inkjet printers.

Toner vs Ink: Cartridge Longevity

While ink is a good option, it depletes faster than toner because the sponge inside the cartridge dries up when the printer is idle. Since ink uses liquid, it’s also susceptible to leaks and smudges during printing.

On the other hand, toner lasts longer since it only depletes its powder when it’s in contact with heat. It doesn’t spill or dry, outlasting ink for long time usage.

Toner vs Ink: Print Quality

If we’re talking about high-quality images, ink performs better because the liquid dye transfers fast onto the paper and dries quickly. Using toner to print photos could leave a powdery texture on the paper.

But if it’s about printing heavy text documents, laser toners take the lead since their build is designed to produce sharp quality, even for high-volume production. Ink does a good job printing documents, but they’re not as fast as toner cartridges.

An employee prepares a printer for a document.

Toner vs Ink: Printing Speed

Fast printing is a feature every office or home needs since it gets the job done in a few minutes. This factor increases employee efficiency because it doesn’t delay work and allows them to complete other tasks. With that said, choose toner cartridges for laser printers—specifically designed to print fast without any failure!

Toner vs. Ink: Printing Volume

Next, let’s address how often your company prints documents. If you use four dozen sheets of paper daily, an inkjet printer will serve you well since it’s designed for light work. High-volume printing requires laser printers, which print 25 to 50 pages per minute.

Toner vs Ink: Environmental Impact

We can’t overlink the difference between ink and toner in terms of their environmental impact. Practicing sustainability in the workplace is essential to uphold eco-friendliness. Unfortunately, inkjet and laser printers both leave carbon footprints—an ink cartridge’s affordable price prompts you to buy more cartridges to replace old ones, leading to a higher accumulation of waste. Using toners also has quite an environmental impact; they require higher energy levels to print documents and images.

Stock up on Ink and Toner Cartridges Today!

Now that you know the difference between ink and toner, it’s time to buy the right cartridge for your printer. Integr8 offers a plethora of ink and toner options featuring different brands to accommodate every printer model.

If you still don’t have a printer, take this opportunity to browse our printer collection and discover more about the top-performing inkjet and laser printers.

Contact us today for more information on our products!

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