When looking at the difference between ink and toner, it is important to note that you are also talking about different types of printers. A lot of people think that ink and toner are interchangeable, however this is not the case. Toner is used with laser printers, while ink is used with inkjet printers. There are pros and cons to both of these options which we will explain further below.

What is Toner?

Toner is a largely powder-based printing agent that use used in laser printers. It uses organic compounds and polymers to make up the majority of the toner.

Pros of using Toner

  1. Toner cartridges and laser printers operate a lot faster than inkjet printers. This is mainly due to the precision that’s possible with a laser over a spray of ink. Both the ink and toner will travel across paper and either etch a pattern (laser) or apply ink (inkjet), but the laser will be a lot more precise than tiny droplets of ink. The electromagnetic process that takes place inside a laser printer is highly precise, and this allows it to run large print jobs quickly and efficiently.
  2. As far as quality is concerned, laser printers generally prevail over inkjet models. While there are high-quality inkjet printers that produce remarkably vivid photos, not all models are capable of such detail. The process of applying ink in tiny pixels cannot quite match the exacting nature of laser-drawn imagery. Additionally, in most cases, pages printed in ink are more likely to smudge if they get wet. Ultimately, buyers must weigh their desired quality against total upfront costs and cartridge yield.
  3. Laser printers can put out a higher volume of pages than laser printers. This is down to the speed in which laser printers can pump out and reuse extra toner.

Cons of using Toner

  1. Toner refills are more expensive than ink. The refills are also incredibly messy to change yourself since you are dealing with microscopic powder as opposed to a liquid.
  2. Laser printers are bigger machines, and they are more expensive than inkjet printers, as a general rule of thumb. The difference in cost is usually made up for in higher print quality and toner yields.

What is Ink?

Ink is stored in small tanks or cartridges. It is then sprayed out in a microscopic mist over the designated print design.

Pros of using Ink

  1. Ink printers are relatively inexpensive compared to laser printers. The initial cost is often neutralised by the increased frequency which you need to spend replacing the ink cartridges. But if you don’t use your printer too often, this won’t be an issue.
  2. Printing with ink is a cleaner process, and is a lot less likely to smudge. Ink based printers are more resistant to smudging and smearing than with laser printers.
  3. Replacing ink cartridges are easier and less expensive than changing toner cartridges. They are also user friendly so you don’t need to call for help to replace or refill them.

Cons of using Ink

  1. Although you will be saving money on ink, inkjet printers will print fewer pages than laser jet printers can with toner.
  2. Ink cartridges do tend to clog when they are left unused for periods of time. This is caused by the ink drying and clogging the print head. A lot of these ink jet printers have printhead cleaners built in a bid to avoid this.

Environmental Impacts of Ink and Toner

When looking at the bigger picture of climate change, ink cartridges seem like a minor issue. But did you know that 11 ink cartridges are thrown away per second? That’s 1 million a day. It also takes 1000 years for a print cartridge to fully decompose in a landfill site, which is definitely not a minor issue.

This large abundance of waste can be reduced, or practically eliminated by reusing and recycling. However, around 50% of all toner cartridges and 70% of all ink cartridges are still not recycled or disposed of properly.

Most major retailers that sell ink will take used cartridges for recycling, or direct you towards a resource that will accept and reuse them.

Apart from disposing of the printer ink cartridges correctly, it’s also important to raise education on how to reduce the waste of these cartridges. For example, if you do need to print, minimize the print space and use the double-sided feature. A lot of the things we need to print are cluttered with fine print, advertisements, and other useless information, so check that you are only printing the necessary pages. And finally, ask yourself: do you really need to print that email?

Trying to settle on a solution that suits your needs is tough, so if you are looking for more information to help you make a decision, we are more than happy to help. Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 01 409 7034 to speak to one of our team who can guide you through what will work best for your business.

Highline Office Technology specialises in both laser and inkjet printers across our Canon, Olivetti and Epson ranges.