Printer Toner vs Ink: Which Is More Economical?
Wednesday March 14, 2019
In our last article The Seven Deadly Sins of Printer Buying, we had some fun understanding the serious decisions that can save money when buying a printer. Adding a printer to the home or office means a commitment with consequences that can last for years.
Just as important, printer buying also entails a question of printer toner vs ink, and the commitment on which you’ll purchase.
Which is better for your needs? Printer toner or ink?
Let’s find out the difference, and pros and cons of printer toner vs ink, even if the answers ultimately come to knowing yourself as much as these printer products.
Briefly, what’s the difference?
In short, the main difference between printer toner vs ink is the type of material used to print. Ink cartridges house liquid ink and are employed in inkjet printers. Toner cartridges house toner (or powder) and are employed in laser printers.
For a deeper dive — including some jaw-dropping insights on the science behind printer toner vs ink— we suggest you read our article Understand the Difference Between Toner and Ink (And How it Can Transform Your Office Budget).
The pros and cons of Ink and Toner
The mentioned article also compares ink and toner, but a Houston Chronicle piece does a commendable job as well in explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each. Here is a summary:
Printer Toner Pros
- Faster Printing (more powerful and precise printer technology)
- Better Picture Quality (again, driven by more precise printer technology)
- Lasts longer (larger space; with the ability to siphon away unused toner and reuse it)
Printer Toner Cons
- Expensive to replace (and you must purchase drums around every fourth replacement)
- Laser printers are more expensive (back to the more powerful and precise technology)
Printer Ink Pros
- Cheaper (smaller storage of ink and less complex technology)
- Doesn’t smudge as easily as toner (believe it or not, and ink prints are more resilient)
- Easier to replace (again, back to price and simplicity of tech)
Printer Ink Cons
- Lower print yield (produces fewer prints in the long run)
- Cartridges clog easier (especially ones that remain unused for too long)
It should be noted that the article does say that although printer toner provides better picture quality, inkjet printers are better suited for photography and are more flexible for materials other than paper (cardboard, photo paper, etc.).
Which one for me?
The article leaves the question open on whether ink or toner is better. Why? Because at the end of the printing day, it depends on what your needs are at the home or office.
Toner tends to get better printing mileage, as mentioned. That means the general cost-per-page of inkjet printers is higher than laser printers. Laser printers will save you more money in the long run, particularly if you’re printing a large volume of pages a week.
For more data on what’s right for your printing needs, our article mentioned above on ink and toner breaks down the differences between laser and inkjet printers:
Laser printers are better for:
- Black & white documents
- Larger offices
- Faster need of documents (can print up to 100/minute)
- Smaller need for paper size variety
Inkjet printers better for:
- High-quality photos or anything with brilliant colors/tonal depth
- Small/home businesses
- Less demand for quick printing (can print up to 16 pages/minute)
- Larger need for paper size variety (and this can include fabrics and glossy paper)
Another important point is quality of product. Big brand toner or ink is costly, but generic alternatives can be even more expensive because of failure rate and condition. Make sure you do your homework so you can save both money and print quality. As an example, our products go through our Triple Check System, which essentially means this: we test each cartridge or toner three times before it ever gets to your hands. Other printer supply companies should follow a similar process.
“If you're buying based on price — and most consumers are — the choice between a laser printer and an inkjet is simple. If you can afford to pay a little more upfront and if you'll only be printing black text documents, a laser printer is a convenient solution. Inkjet printers are far more versatile, which is important for home use, but you'll pay more in ongoing running costs and will have slower print times. Choose carefully!”
You’ve heard it from the experts. Don’t forget that you can cheat the devil of indecision by owning two types of printers in your office, each leveraged for their benefits and strengths. In the end, though, you’re the greatest of all experts when it comes to your home or business needs. Buy well and print well.