Inkjet vs Toner Cartridges: How Different Are They – 2024 Review

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One of the main questions that many people, especially those who want to buy new printers ask is, “What is the difference between ink toner and toner cartridges?” The simple answer is that ink cartridges work with inkjet printers while toner cartridges work with laser printers.

In this post, we will compare the two cartridges further to help you understand how each of them works. Furthermore, we will look at the main pros and cons to help you answer the question: “Which is the better option?”

How Do Ink Cartridges Work in Inkjet Printers?

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The technology used in inkjet printers is pretty straightforward – the cartridges are installed in the printer’s printer head, which contains tiny ink nozzles that help dispense ink into your paper when printing.

When you give the printer command to print, the printer head moves on the paper, dispensing the ink to create the image or text that you want. The main inkjet printer variations you see out there are largely dependent on how they dispense the ink from the nozzles. Let us look at the two most common ones:

  • Thermal bubble printers: These printers dispense ink from their cartridges via printing nozzles based on heat.
  • Piezoelectric printers: The printers in this category release the ink from their nozzles based on electric charges and vibrations.

How Do Toner Cartridges in Laser Printers Work?

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When compared with inkjets, laser printers are more complex. Unlike inkjets, laser printers do not inject color directly into the paper. Instead, the toner is first rerouted to a rotating drum before being transferred to the paper to create the images or text that you want.

The rotating metal drum is a highly photosensitive part that only carries one charge. Once you give the printer command to print, it draws the image on the drum and draws an electrostatic image. This implies that specific sections, where the image has been drawn, carries a different charge from what the other part of the drum and the toner contains.

Note that the toner is coated on the drum only after the image has been generated. Also, it is important to appreciate that the toner always carries electrostatic charges similar to the drum. The impact is that the toner will be attracted to the opposite charges, which were earlier on created on the drum. Then, the toner on the rest of the drum will fall off.

Because the paper has opposite charges, it attracts the toner on the drum. At the same time, a fuser is used to promptly melt the toner so that the words or images created on the paper are permanent. The process happens pretty fast, and printing of your pages with words or images is faster compared to inkjet cartridges.

Inkjet vs Toner Cartridges: Pros and Cons

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After understanding the main differences between inkjets and toner cartridges, you now need to compare their pros and cons in order to make the right decision on what to buy.

  • Running and Initial Costs

For most people, the first question that they ask when comparing inkjet and toner cartridges is, “Which is cheaper?” From the viewpoint of initial cost, the toner cartridge is more expensive, but you should not simply rely on the initial cost to make your decision on what to buy. Although cheaper, inkjet cartridges print fewer papers and require regular replacement, which raises the overall running costs.  Indeed, most manufacturers wittingly sell the printers cheaply, expecting to make profits from the regular sale of inkjet cartridges. This is why Mrdepot proposes that people should think ahead when buying printers.

When it comes to toner cartridges, although they carry higher price tags, the number of printouts you can make is very high. This means that it will take longer before requiring toner cartridge replacement, resulting in low operating costs.

Note that whether you go for an inkjet or toner cartridge, it is important always to ensure you buy the one which is designed for or compatible with your printer.

  • Quality of Print

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When it comes to speed and print quality, toner cartridges wins against the counterpart inkjet cartridges. If you print texts with a toner cartridge and compare it with another done by inkjet, the former will be more outstanding. Most people also report that toner cartridges are also friendlier compared to inkjets.

Although toner cartridges are faster compared to inkjets, the latter generates far more superior quality images and pictures. This is the case because the inkjets printers have better Dots per Inch (DPI) ratings compared to laser printers.

  • Ease of Maintenance

When you buy printing cartridges, how you maintain them is also crucial. On maintenance, the two cartridges are at par. Once you have purchased an inkjet cartridge, you simply need to shake it a little and fit in the printer head to start printing your papers. If you need to store the cartridges separately, you are required to store them upside down without breaking the seal.

When using toner cartridges, the process of installation, use, and maintenance is equally simple. To replace the toner cartridge, the process might look challenging, especially when trying to access the old toner cartridge, but it will be pretty easy latter when you get used to the process. The good thing is that you will not need to change it regularly because it lasts longer than the inkjet cartridges.

The Verdict: Which is Better?

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Which is better between inkjet and toner cartridges? Unfortunately, there is no outright winner in this war. The best cartridge to go for depends on what you want. Indeed, we can break that into two primary things: the nature of your printing and printing requirements. If you want to spend less or do not intend to do bulk printing, inkjet printers and cartridges will be the better options. The inkjet will also be a better option when printing pictures.

If you target making a lot of printing, and most of the time need to print papers fast, the best option will be a toner cartridge. Remember that although laser toner’s initial investment might be higher, the running cost comes down significantly.