With the replacement toner market now worth considerably more than the printer hardware market; it is surprising just how little Joe Public knows about the black stuff. Does anybody actually know.
What is toner?
Toner is a powdered composite of pigment and plastic. The pigment provides the color and the plastic binds the image to the paper when passed through the heated fuser of the printer. Toner powder is electrically charged and is attracted to the opposite charge of the scanned image on the printer drum.
Why is toner so expensive?
Anyone who's bought a replacement toner cartridge won't be surprised to learn that it's pound-for-pound ten times more expensive than vintage champagne. Yet businesses continue to spend hours deliberating over which printer or copier to buy next; giving little thought to the machine's running cost. And this is exactly the way the Original Equipment Manufacturers have engineered the situation. With slim profit margins on hardware the OEMs decided to change their marketing strategy; and figured that by selling printers at cost they could generate greater profits through replacement sales. It sounds much more sinister than it actually is; after all you didn't hear many people complaining back in the 1990s when toner cartridges cost $25 and the printers cost $500.
How to cut costs?
The good news is that by shopping online; you're already in line for some great savings. However, there are some alternatives that can hammer down costs further still:
Toner cartridge remanufacturing not only saves thousands of tonnes of used cartridges from being buried in landfill sites each year, but also works wonders for your stationary budget. There are now 5000 remanufacturing companies operating in the US in addition to programs run buy the OEMs. Empty cartridges are cleaned, damaged parts are replaced, the toner hopper is refilled and the cartridge is tested. Remanufacturing can increase the lifespan of your toner cartridge tenfold.
Refill kits are the most economical way to keep your printer going. Kits vary in their contents, but typically involve a heated iron which is used to bore a small hole in the hopper casing through which the refill toner is poured. The hole is then plugged and the cartridge is good to go.