What’s The Difference between Ink and Toner Cartridges?

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Ink and Toner Cartridges

Toner and ink cartridges are used for business and home printing purposes. Ink and toner are terms interchangeably used, but the way of functioning in both is completely different. When you buy these consumables, it is essential to know whether the chosen cartridge is compatible with your printing device.

Toner cartridge

Laser printers use toner cartridges. They are cylindrical containers filled with fine powder and are called toner. The powder is got from a kind of plastic [polyester]. In a laser printer, an electrostatic image is formed by the laser on a revolving metal drum that is charged electrically. The cartridge at this point sprays the toner on the printing drum. The colors stick to areas on the drum that are electrically charged.

A drum is a crucial unit because you cannot print without it. The toner cartridge is available with a built-in drum unit, which is too costly. They offer convenience as you don’t need to feel concerned about the replacement of the printer’s drum unit.

Ink cartridge

Ink is either dye-based or pigment-based. Popular inkjet printers operate on dye-based ink. Dye-based ink is capable to produce vibrant colored prints and photos. Ink is a liquid shaded with different colored dyes. It is locked inside an airtight foiled compartment within the cartridge. During the printing process, little ink droplets are squirted from the minute nozzle of the print head and are set down onto the page.

Professional photographers and graphic designers prefer pigment-based because the finish is crisper and drying time is speedy. It is even resistant to UV rays and water, so the photographs last as long as two decades. On the other hand, dye-based ink is prone to smudging and fades after 24 years.

Ink versus toner – which is better?


The laser printers using toner cartridges are speedy and precise in comparison to ink sprays. Businesses value speed and sharpness because it saves time and offers accuracy therefore laser is the best option.


Print quality for both ink and toner is the same for average font sizes. Font sizes smaller than 12 points will need laser printers instead of inkjets. With toner, image clarity is great because ink application in tiny pixels cannot match laser printers’ precision skills. Ink most probably smudge and blotch the print.


Ink cartridges using printers have low paper capacity. It means more time spent refilling the paper. Even if the inkjet printers are cheap they yield low prints in comparison to their expensive cousin laser copiers.


Laser printers are expensive and even the replacement of toner cartridges is costly. Nevertheless, they save significantly as toner cartridge lasts longer than their ink counterparts. Ink cartridges are easily replaceable and compact but are prone to clogging. If an inkjet printer lacks a built-in head cleaner then there will be a need for ink replacement more frequently. Ink cartridges dry out fast.

The upfront cost of a laser printer is more but down the road you save cash as you will not need to replace toner cartridges as frequently as the inkjet ones.

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