What is the difference between cartridge and toner?

When choosing a printer for your office, there are many questions that must be asked. The evaluation of which model to buy must take into account items such as the number of sheets that will be printed per day, how many people will use the product, the final quality expected of these prints and the cost per printed sheet. Also, there are printers that use ink cartridges while other models use toner. Can you tell the difference between cartridge and toner?

In this article, we will detail these two options so that you never get confused again and have more subsidies to make the best choice when buying a new model.

Toner: what are its characteristics?

An ink toner is nothing more than powder ink, charged in its primary colors: cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and black (K). Together, the four colors form the CMYK palette, used primarily in printed materials. Color toner originates prints on laser printer models.


The process is quite simple: the powder is heated and, through cylinders, transfers the colors to the paper. Due to its characteristics, printers that use toner have greater autonomy, being able to print a larger number of pages with a single toner. However, these models also tend to cost more.

Cartridge: what are its characteristics?

Ink cartridges also use the same color CMYK logic, but the difference here is in the way the ink is stored inside them. In this case, it is stored in a liquid form and the printing mechanisms release onto the paper only the amounts necessary for the printing to be formed.


This mode of operation makes printer models that operate with an ink cartridge have less autonomy. Because of this, cartridges also cost less. This alternative can be seen in inkjet printers, for example.

What is the best option?

There is no exact answer to this question and it all depends on what the printer is for. For example, let’s say you have a small office where less than 10 sheets are printed a day. You don’t need print speed and HD is also a secondary item. In this case, the focus is on finding a low-cost printer and ink cartridge models will be more affordable.

On the other hand, if you work in a large office, with many employees sharing the same printer on a network, and the volume of printed pages per day is more than fifty, then models with toner will be more interesting. They may even cost more at first, but in the medium and long term they will save your company.

In short: there are two different ways of printing

To summarize well, we can say that cartridges store ink in liquid form while toners store it in solid form (powder). Cartridges are more common in inkjet printers while toners are used in laser printers. Cartridges are cheaper but yield less and provide lower quality prints. Toners are more expensive but yield more and result in high quality prints.

Now just check which models are available at your favorite office supply store, according to your needs, and you’re done. Surely your choice will be the smartest one.

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