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What Is the Difference Between Ink and Toner

What is the difference between ink and toner is a famous question that can easily persuade you to choose one printer over the other. Essentially, toner cartridges are designed for laser printers, while ink cartridges are designed for inkjet printers. Today, we’ll help you figure out which one will suit you best.

Ink and Toner: Specs

Basically, you’re going to receive printed output no matter what kind of cartridge you use. This comparison relates to how you get that output, how it looks like, its speed, clarity, element resistance, and cost. These are all variables that you must put into consideration.

For some people, toner cartridges are more economical, while others think the exact opposite. The mechanism of toner cartridges can be a bit too complicated for some, while others know how to deal with it smoothly.

Also, the variety of options offered by inkjet printers can play a significant role in the process of buying a printer if they’re genuinely needed; otherwise, they might prove to be useless for certain individuals.

As a result, there’s a long list of criteria, options, and specs that you must go through in order to decide on the best type of cartridge; therefore, the best type of printer for yourself.


We’ve previously skimmed over the fact that inkjet printers almost always come with other features such as scanner, fax, and copier. This trend has become the norm for quite a few years, and you’re still paying for a printer.

Laser printers have started to catch up lately; nonetheless, there’s still some time before they’re at the same level as the inkjet printers.


More often than not, toner cartridges last you thousands of papers, as laser printers are designed for heavy workloads. Still, they tend to cost a hefty sum whenever they go down. On the other side of the spectrum, inkjet cartridge refills are much more frequent; yet, cheaper.

So, it all boils down to an equation including your usage and the price of your cartridge. If you are constantly printing, then the toner cartridge will be much more economically friendly, as it’ll cut down on the cost per paper.

But, if you don’t print that much, an inkjet cartridge would do you just fine so that you’re not wasting your money on ink that you won’t need.


Now, we’ll speak about the most crucial part of understanding the differences between ink and toner.

Let’s start with toner this time. In essence, toner consists of plastic particles, minute polyester ones to be more specific. Those particles are either black, which is the most common as most laser printers, or monochromatic, or divided into the four cartridge system cyan, magenta, yellow, and black for multichromatic printers.

There is an extra part present in laser printers or toner cartridges that doesn’t exist in inkjet cartridges, which is the drum. This drum creates a static field that draws the boundaries of whatever it’s you’re printing.

Then, the plastic part is dropped carefully within these margins to fill their insides. Lastly, the paper is heated inside of the printer so that the plastic particles melt and fuse to the paper, which is why laser printing is fast.

Now, let’s switch sides and talk about inkjet cartridges. The first thing you need to know about these cartridges is that they can either be pigment-based or dye-based. There are a few differences between the dye and pigment-based inks, mainly their constituents.

The first one is simply colorants alongside adequate liquid, while the latter is a powdery suspension. Inkjet cartridges spray the saturated liquid into place. Although they’re much simpler in mechanism than toners, they take longer to print documents due to the higher levels of precision.

The thing about ink cartridges is that they can be available in a two-piece system; black and tricolor, or a four-piece system; cyan, yellow, black, and magenta. The first system is great as it’s easier to install; but, if one color starts to run out in the tricolor cartridge, you’ll have to replace the whole thing, which is not economically wise.


What works for who and why is the main question that you should be asking yourself. Laser printers, i.e., toner cartridges, are great for huge workloads of text, mostly black or even color, if you have the funds to purchase a multichrome laser printer. With such huge workloads, precision, sharpness of color, clarity, and contrast take a hit as they’re not your main goals. They’re adequate; nonetheless, you won’t be applying for any photography contests with laser printers.

Contrarily, inkjet cartridges don’t produce such awe-inspiring yield throughout their lifetimes. Yet, they offer fantastic levels of sharpness and clarity no matter what kind of documents you’re trying to print. Photos, diagrams, posters, etc., all of that is much better off with the inkjet printers.

Cost Per Page

It’s only logical that you must have a round-up of overheads in your life, whether personal or professional, and your printer is a part of that. Since toner cartridges have much longer lifespans, they tend to yield output in thousands. Some of them can cost you only one cent per page.

On the other hand, ink cartridges have yields in the hundreds, which places your cost per page at ten cents and above. It might not look like a huge difference now, but when you add it up after months and months of usage, you’ll find that the difference is staggering, to say the least.



  • Dye-based lasts up to 25 years
  • Pigment-based lasts up to 200 years
  • Affordable
  • Versatile printers
  • Pigment-based is water and UV light resistant


  • Stains
  • Frequent replacements



  • No stains
  • Excellent for huge workloads
  • Top-notch precision
  • Faster


  • Complicated system
  • Susceptible to messes
  • No photo printing
  • Pricey

To Recap

To wrap up, knowing the essentials of what is the difference between ink and toner comes before all of the other questions that might pop into your head before you decide to purchase a printer.

That can relate to the type of laptop that you have, like thinking of the printers compatible with Dell laptops, or the kind of business you’re running like trying to find out the best printer for vinyl, or the best printer for wedding invitations, or the best printer for vehicle wraps.

So, before you think about all of that, know that toners can produce thousands of pages with relatively good clarity, while ink cartridges aim for ultimate precision and sharpness when doing their jobs.