Printer Toner vs Ink

You always hear the words “Toner” and “Ink” thrown around while talking about printers. Did you ever wonder how each works and how they differ? Which one is better?

Different types of printers use different printing technologies, which is why they require different kinds of ink. Toner and Ink are two different inks used in Laser and Inkjet printers respectively. Each of them is the most suitable for their respective technologies and comes with unique benefits.

What Is Printer Toner?

Toner is the ink used in laser printers. It constitutes 85-95% plastic powder and 5-15% of pigments. The pigments are made of monomers and oligomers, and other volatile organic compounds.

Toner comes in a toner cartridge, along with drums and rollers. Drums may be separated from toner cartridges sometimes. These are photosensitive and certain parts become electrically-charged according to what is being printed.

As the sheets are fed through the drum with the help of rollers, the toner is fused to the paper, sticking to the charged parts of the drum, and creates a crisp, clear printout.

Types Of Printer Toner

Most toners just contain black pigments (carbon black), and print perfectly in black. They’re used in monochrome laser printers.

There are some toners that print can print various colors in the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) spectrum.

All toners consist of elements like zinc and iron, which enhances their capabilities to retain the charges and fuse properly into the paper.

What Is Printer Ink?

Ink is the general term for all the various types of liquid inks used in Inkjet printers. These inks come in ink cartridges or ink tanks, depending on the types of printers.

The print head inside the inkjet printers contains thousands of nozzles or ink-sprays. These spray ink over the paper when proper printing commands are given and delivers a vibrant and colorful output.

Types Of Printer Ink

Because of the various types of inkjet printers out there, there are also a variety of different inks.

1. Aqueous Inks: Aqueous inks work with colorful dyes mixed in water, and the color is produced when the water evaporates during the print.

2. Solvent Inks: Solvent inks are dyes mixed in volatile organic compounds rather than water.

3. UV-Curable Inks: UV-Curable inks are almost the same kind of ink as solvent inks but with different organic compounds. They were treated with extreme levels of UV light improving their features greatly.

These are the basic few types of printer inks out there. There are other hybrid inks, which are a mixture of the best features of the above-mentioned inks.

Which One Is Better- Toner Or Ink?

Lots of features play a part in deciding which is better. It also depends on your purposes of printing, the volume of printing you’ll be doing, and much more. Let’s take a lot at certain factors and compare the two types of print medium.


You need your printer to produce outputs of high resolutions, like 1200×1200 DPIs. Toner and Ink both deliver printouts of excellent quality and high resolution.

For black-and-white or monochrome prints, both mediums do an excellent job in producing clear and sharp texts.

However, when it comes to color prints, inks lead the race and produce much more brilliant and vivid colors. Inks deliver very high resolutions of color photos and pictures compared to toners, and bring out the true colors, gloss, and shine in different images and photos.

So, if high-resolution color-printing is your main focus, inkjet printers are what you should go for.


Both toner and ink have great quality.

Although it should be mentioned that the ink is sprayed on the paper by tiny nozzles in the print head. This leaves the ink wet after the print, and there are risks of smudging and discoloration.

In the case of toners, smudging isn’t an option since it’s fused to the paper using heat, and the prints are very sharp and crystal clear.

Range Of Use

Aforementioned, inks are much better in printing colors than toners, and thus, have a varied range of use.

Inkjet printers can print a lot more than just documents, which is why they’re extremely useful in places where a variety of printing takes place.

Cartridge Durability

Both types of ink will be at their optimal level when used regularly and kept in stable, normal temperatures.

Ink cartridges tend to clog, with the ink drying up if the printer is left unused for longer periods. This can lead to maintenance problems, reducing the longevity of the ink cartridges.

On the other hand, laser printers aren’t affected this badly if they’re not used much, since the toner is a powdery substance and doesn’t clog or dry. Toner can also handle high temperatures.

Toner cartridges last longer and are more reliable than ink cartridges.

Price Of Cartridge

Toner cartridges are costlier than ink cartridges, but it’s justifiable since toner cartridges are more reliable and can carry out higher volumes of prints compared to ink cartridges. Toner cartridges come with much larger duty cycles, but pricier cartridge refills.

Toner cartridges are more cost-efficient than ink cartridges when it’s being used for printing in large volumes.


Toner printers or laser printers work very swiftly and the paper doesn’t stop for even a fraction of a second like in the inkjet printers, when the print head sprays the ink.

Toner printers are much faster and efficient compared to inkjet printers.

Harmful Effects

Both toner and ink harm people and the environment in some way or the other. These consist of chemicals like EDTA, which can cause several health problemswith overexposure. Alcohol and Ketones used also harm the ozone layer.

Moreover, cartridges use a great amount of oil while manufacturing. Oils are non-renewable resources, which are used to generate electricity and for other essential purposes in our lives, and a huge amount is being used up in making printing cartridges.

Final Word

As you already might’ve figured out, there’s not a definitive winner between printer toner and ink. Each has their advantages and their drawbacks. The better printing medium is actually based on your preference and purpose.

If you’re looking for high-volume document printing, then maybe toner will be perfect for you; contrarily, if you’re more into printing high-quality color images, inks will give you the best results.

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