Inks and toners are both widely used across numerous industries; if you’ve worked in any office environment, you have at some point very likely been within A4’s distance of a stalled printer calling for new ink or new toner. But while inks and toners are often said in the same breath, they are far from interchangeable; they differ in their composition, and the type of printers they are designed for, and understanding the difference between the two is essential for any business that is intending to do their printing on a professional level. Furthermore, the key differences between ink and toner cartridges can directly impact the ongoing expenses of operating the printer, so knowing the difference between the two is strongly recommended to any business owner that’s trying to avoid extraneous spending.
Typically speaking, ink is the liquid substance primarily composed of pigments or dyes suspended in a solvent; it is commonly used in inkjet printers, which create images by spraying tiny droplets of ink onto the printing surface. Inkjet printers are suitable for printing high-quality images and graphics. The ink is absorbed by the paper, resulting in vibrant colours and smooth gradients. Ink cartridges for inkjet printers are generally available in various colours and can be replaced individually when a particular colour runs out. They are also known for being more affordable compared to toner cartridges.
Conversely, Toner is the fine powder composed of tiny particles, typically made of plastic, pigment, and other additives. It is used in laser printers and photocopiers, which are known for using a different printing process; to create their printed images, laser printers use heat and static electricity to fuse the toner particles onto the paper. Laser printers are known for their fast printing speed and high-volume capabilities, making them popular in office environments. Toner cartridges for laser printers generally contain black toner, but colour laser printers will often feature separate toner cartridges for each colour.
Know more about - What are Genuine Ink & Toner Cartridges?
The choice between toner and inkjet cartridges will always come down to your specific printing needs; as with most things, the most enduring factors are speed, quality, and cost, but there are some other nuances to consider too…
Ink cartridges generally have a higher cost per page compared to toner cartridges. The limited page yield of ink cartridges means they need to be replaced more frequently, increasing the overall cost of printing.
Toner cartridges tend to have a lower cost per page compared to ink cartridges. They offer higher page yields, allowing for more prints before requiring replacement, resulting in lower overall printing costs
As a general comparison, inkjet printers typically average around 20 cents per page, while laser printers average around 6 cents per page. Taking into consideration the average printing habits of most employees - approximately 40 pages per day on average - it can be (very broadly) summarised thusly:
Inkjet: Approximately $2,000 per employee
Laser: Approximately $600 per employee
Image Courtesy - Brother
You can contribute to reducing office printing costs by implementing simple yet effective practices in your daily routines.
The environmental impact of printing depends on multiple factors, including printer usage, paper consumption, and proper recycling practices.
Energy Efficiency/Emissions: Laser printers generally consume more energy during operation compared to inkjet printers. Inkjet printers tend to have lower power requirements, making them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Laser printers also generate more heat during the printing process, which can contribute to increased energy consumption and emissions. Inkjet printers produce less heat and typically have lower emissions.
Refill Options: Inkjet printers often have more readily available refill options, including refill kits and third-party ink cartridges. This can help reduce waste by allowing cartridges to be refilled instead of discarded. Toner cartridges, on the other hand, may have limited refill options.
Recycling Programs: Both inkjet and toner cartridges can be recycled through specialised recycling programs. Many manufacturers offer cartridge recycling initiatives, reducing the environmental impact of cartridge disposal.
Paper Consumption: Both printer types have the potential to contribute to paper waste, which you can help mitigate by printing only what you need to and then responsibly recycling printouts that are no longer needed.
Choosing a printer that suits your needs requires careful consideration of various factors. Here are some tips to help you decide between inkjet and laser printers…
Compactability/Maneuverability: Inkjet printers offer a compact design. Unlike laser printers, they don't require internal drums and rollers, allowing for full-page printing in a smaller footprint. Many inkjet printers also provide scanning and copying capabilities.
Affordability: Inkjet printers are more affordable to purchase. However, it's important to consider that ink costs can make these budget inkjet printers more expensive to operate in the long run.
Quality: Laser printers excel in text and document printing. For extensive document printing, even monochrome laser printers can produce high-quality pages more efficiently than inkjet printers. However, inkjets are better suited for printing photographs.
You can check out our extensive range of inks and toners here. Have more questions? Don’t be afraid to contact us here!