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What is Toner?

Every day we print using a laser printer at work or handle come across documents that have been printed with toner. The most common questions are what is toner, and how does it work? Why does it cost so much, and how can I reduce my costs?
Toner is the powder used in laser printers and photocopiers to form the printed text and images on the paper. Toner granules are melted by the heat of the fuser which allows it to bind to the paper. In its early form it was simply carbon powder. In an effort to improve the quality of the printout, modern toner has the carbon particles mixed with various polymers to allow for better dispersion onto the drum.

In earlier designs, the carbon toner was poured by the user from a bottle into a reservoir in the machine. Usually a sizable amount of the toner was wasted, as it was virtually impossible to not spill some of it during the refilling process. Current machines feed directly from a sealed cartridge, which is usually a proprietary design. The specific polymer used today varies by manufacturer but can be a styrene acrylate copolymer, a polyester resin, a styrene butadiene copolymer, or a few other special polymers. Toner formulations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from machine to machine. Typically formulation, granule size and melting point vary the most.

Originally, the granule size of toner averaged 14–16 micrometers. To improve image resolution, granule size was reduced, eventually reaching the current 8–10 micrometers for 600 dots per inch resolution. Further reductions in granule size producing further improvements in resolution are being developed through the application of new technologies. Toner has traditionally been made by compounding the ingredients and creating a slab which was broken or pelletized, then turned into a fine powder with a controlled granule size range by air jet milling. This process results in toner granules with varying sizes and aspherical shapes. To get a finer print, some companies are using a chemical process to grow toner granules from molecular reagents. This results in more uniform size and shapes of toner granules. The smaller, uniform shapes permit more accurate reproduction and more efficient toner use. Toner manufacturers maintain a quality control standard for granule size distribution in order to produce a powder suitable for use in their printers.

Now that you know what goes into that toner cartridge, and understand why they cost what they do, go ahead and order your next toner cartridge. Keep in mind the price is much less at; with the purchase of Clickinks remanufactured toner cartridges, you help reduce the amount of cartridges that are disposed of into landfills and save yourself money at the same time!