Ink and toner share many similar aspects, both being able to administer color and black pigment onto media forming specified characters and integrated images that make up a printout. Each is comprised of three main elements, a vehicle, a pigment, and a holding cell. Both laser printers and inkjet printers also come in a variety types from All-In-One devices, being able to print, scan, copy, and fax, to monochrome machines that were designed to handle black and white or grayscale only printouts. These machines can be used for the same purposes, having the ability to complete nearly any type of printout, although toner and ink have distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of printing you are performing. To help better understand which type of printer will be more beneficial, we have to first understand to main properties of ink and toner.
Printing ink is a liquid or paste based solution used to create shapes and patterns onto the substrate. The liquid solution is housed in a reservoir within the cartridge until being forced to the release chamber(s). Once inside the release chambers an impulse will trigger a reactive element embedded to the chamber to forcibly jet out or drop the pigment through a nozzle and out onto the media. The reaction will also force new droplets into the chamber for rapid reproduction.
Toner is a type of concentrated pigment or dye-based powder used in laser printers to complete the electrophotographic process. The powder is stored within the cartridge compartment known as the hopper. The powder in the hopper is a carbon-based polymer that will attract and repel from particular static electrical charges which is the key to applying the powder to the substrate. A transfer roller will pick up the oppositely charged toner particles from the hopper and roll the particles against an imaging drum unit that has an even greater opposite electrical charge. The laser printer will create a light impression on the drum successfully creating a magnetic impression for the toner to attract to. Once the toner is placed onto the media, a pair of fusing rollers will actually melt the powder into the page to create the desired images.
There are three main properties to consider when choosing whether to print with toner or ink, including how they dry, the structural design, and the optical output. With a laser toner printer, the fusing rollers will burn the toner that has been layered on the substrate to adhere the particles to the page. Inkjets will apply an ink solution that rapidly dries being exposed to the room temperature air. The speed at which the ink will dry varies, depending on the added drying or thermal agent inside the ink mixture.
The cartridges are also made in completely different sizes and shapes, with toners generally being much bigger in size due to the amount of components (or pieces) needed to apply the pigmented polymers. And having an entire roller covered in particles that spans the size of the accepted media and a drum unit that holds an image, allows the laser toner to swiftly reproduce that same image, which is ideal for printing out multiple copies of one page. Inkjet printers will slowly render and apply ink as the cartridges pass over the media to help capture fine details, making them better for single page printing.
Toners are made and formed with very specific particle solutions and processes that pertain to the particular printer model. For example, some toner particles can be shaped by a vortex procedure giving each grain a rounded shape, whereas the more typical chemically created particles contain jagged edges and can damage rollers that are made to transport rounded particles. Therefore, most toner cartridges will only work with a specific printer or series of printers. The inkjet cartridges, on the other hand, are often interchangeable with several printer series and even manufacturers. When the ink formulations are changed, the viscosity is usually balanced between inkjets allowing almost any printer to apply the contained ink as long as the cartridges have the same size and shape.
In general Inkjets will be able to produce higher quality images and photographs, whereas the toner particles are able to create higher quality text documents. The laser toners will also be able to produce more printouts due to the sheer amount of pigment able to be held by the toner cartridges as opposed to the ink cartridges. Ink cartridges are typically more expensive when comparing the cost to print per page although they can provide a wider color gamut to work with and added definition. So depending on what types of printing you are performing more of, will determine the type of printer and cartridges that will be more beneficial. For the photograph enthusiast, inkjets are recommended for added detail. To create multiple copies of a single page or text documents, a laser toner printer and toner cartridges will be better for your overall printing needs.