Pretty much all offices and most homes now have a printer. While most domestic printers are inkjet, an increasing number of work printers are laser types. Both types need to be kept well-stocked with either ink or, in the case of laser printers, toner. You need to know a bit more about toner if you’re going to be buying it, especially if you’re conscious of your budget.
As you can probably imagine, ink and toner are different, so you shouldn’t use ink in a laser printer, or toner in an inkjet printer, or you’ll damage your machine, probably beyond repair.
What’s a toner cartridge?
A toner cartridge, used in a laser printer, contains a very fine powder composed of carbon, polymer particles and other pigments to give it its colour, unless it’s black. This powder can be electrically charged and adheres to a roller, also electrically charged by the intense laser beam. The particles stick to charged areas on the roller in the pattern of the images or letters to be printed.
Toner cartridges are very good value, producing thousands of pages each before they need to be replaced. If you can find a good place to pick up ink toner, you can save money in the long run, even though the printer itself may have been more expensive than an inkjet model.
Types of toner cartridge
You must buy the right type of cartridge for your laser printer, or you risk patchy, inferior print-outs at best and a broken printer at worst. Once you know the model of cartridge you need, you can decide on the type that’s best for you.
Original equipment manufacturer, or OEM toner cartridge. These are the most expensive types of cartridge, but they are also the most-bought ones. OEM means that it’s been made by the same manufacturer as the one that made the machine. This makes them easy to find and buy, and you will also be covered by various warranties and guarantees;
Compatible toner cartridges (AKA generic) are made by a different company to the maker of the printer. They are, however, like the OEM cartridges, made to fit specific laser printer models. Compatible cartridges are cheaper than OEM, and many sellers offer warranties on their compatible cartridges and will only sell toner cartridges made by certified manufacturers, and
Remanufactured cartridges; these have been recycled and refurbished before being refilled by a trusted third party company. You can often send back empty cartridges to your online supplier, who will pass them onto the remanufacturer and will then be able to reduce the price of your order.
You can also buy refill kits, but this is a fiddly process and often leads to leaks and poor quality print-outs. The toner itself can cause skin and lung irritation, so this option is best avoided unless you’re on a very tight budget.
There are many safe and trustworthy cartridge suppliers online, and you’ll find ordering online much easier and faster than going to a store. If you need help while you’re working out which model of cartridge to buy, you should be able to phone customer services or use live chat to ask for help.