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Ink vs Toner: Everything you need to know

Printing is a tedious yet a very essential task in our day-to-day life. From the tough selection of what’s worth printing and what’s not, finding the right kind of printer that suits your needs is also a battle on its own.

When searching for the right kind of printer, you’ll often stumble upon the difference between ink and toner. This might make you wonder what exactly these are, whether they are different, or if toner and ink are the same things. 

It is safe to say that they both perform the same task but in a different style. While there are a bunch of differences between toner and ink, the primary difference is that they are used for different types of printers. Ink is used in one of the most popular and conventional types of home printers which is Inkjet. Toner on the other hand is used in laser printers which are known for their lightning-fast speed. They both come with their own sets of advantages and disadvantages to leave you with making the decision of what’s best for you.

A large part of your decision-making depends on how you will use your printer, what are your page per day requirements and the type of content you’re printing. We understand your concerns and are here with a full guide on ink vs toner, which will ultimately help you decide which one’s the right fit for your printing needs.

What is printer ink?

Inkjet printers use a very simplified technology of heat and physics for color distribution. The ink used in inkjet printers is a blend of food dye and water. The ink is sealed in a cartridge with a foil-based compartment. It typically uses a combination of either 2 or 4 cartridges with one cartridge solely dedicated to a black color and the other one either a mix of cyan, magenta, and yellow or 3 different cartridges for each one of them.

For most inkjet printers, inkjet cartridges contain ink that is sealed in a foil-based compartment. The cartridges are installed at the head of the inkjet printer, which contains ink nozzles. The built-in software commands the nozzles to spray tiny ink droplets to achieve the desired print.

The print time for black and white is relatively faster in comparison to color print but the time difference is quite minimal which makes it unnoticeable.


  • Inexpensive and space-saving technology

Even though laser printers have come a long way in terms of technology advancement, inkjet printers are still considered to be more cost-effective when compared to their laser counterparts. They also considerably take up less space and are perfect if your office is in a crunch for space.

  • Precise and quality printing

They are best known for color and photo printing. Their amazing color blending property allows them to print sharp and vibrant images.

  • Serves various purposes

Inkjet printers truly are multi-tasking devices that can easily fit your various needs. They are compatible with a variety of paper types and are a great option for low-volume printing. They are ideal as home printers and small-office printers.

What is printer toner?

The printer toner is a fine powder and is made of polyester. The powder made of granulated plastic and pigment is what provides the printer with precision and control. It uses the technology of static charging for printing. The device generates an electrostatic charge which is projected onto a metal drum. It is followed by the release of toner powder which results in printing the desired content onto the paper.

Gone are the days when laser printers were only known for printing black and white. With the advancements in technology, the new laser printer models are capable of color printing as well. You now have the advantage of choosing between color toner cartridges and monochrome cartridges and pick the one that’s more useful for you. The process of printing is similar for both types, except with colors the process is repeated to create more dynamic printed text or images. The color toner cartridges also have the same colors as ink- cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

The biggest difference between printer toner vs. ink is the kind of material each one uses for printing. The first one is a powder-based medium while the latter is a liquid.


  • Affordable high volume printing

While laser printers have an increased initial investment when compared to inkjet printers, they are extremely cost-effective in the long run. Toner powder is quite inexpensive and lasts much longer than an ink cartridge. They are the best option for places that require a large volume of text printing.

  • Faster and more precise printing

The biggest advantage of laser printers is their lightning-fast printing speed. On average, they have a printing speed of 35 pages/ minute. So you don’t have to worry about the large amounts of documents that require printing. And probably the best flex about laser printers is their precision. Even with this rate of printing, they maintain the quality of printing leaving less scope for mishaps.

How to decide what you need

If you already own a printer then it’s really a no-brainer on the type of cartridges you need. However, if you’re new to the printer world and are looking to buy a brand new printer then you need to assess your requirements before making a purchase decision. If you’re looking for a printer that is suitable for your home office setting or a small-scale company that has a low requirement for printing then you should definitely go with the inkjet printer. It is one of the most versatile and affordable printing solutions. If you are looking for a printer that needs to fulfill the requirements of a large-scale business that involves printing large volumes of documents then you should pick a laser printer. We hope that helps.

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