Laser Printer Toner: FAQ
What is laser printer toner?
Toner is an electrically charged powder that's a combination of pigment and plastic. The pigment provides color and the plastic fuses the image to the paper when heated at the final stage of the printing process.
Why is laser printer toner so expensive?
It might be hard to believe, but toner is actually much more economical than ink. Not only do toner cartridges go much further, but they also provide much better results. Manufacturers claim the relatively high retail price is a means of compensating for the 'profit squeeze' incurred by selling the hardware cheaply in the first case. However, not everybody is convinced.
What does the 'Toner Low' warning light really mean?
Depending on which model of printer you are using; it might not mean a great deal. A recent article in Which? (a well-known British consumer magazine) found that one leading make of printer encourages users to install a replacement cartridge when the existing one is still a third full. For office stock control it's a good idea to keep an eye on the warning light, but at the same time you should continue printing until the quality is compromised. Laser printer heads are rarely damaged by lack of toner.
How can I make my printer toner go further?
The easiest, and most frequently overlooked, way to lengthen your toner's lifespan is to set your printer on economy mode. The difference in print quality is negligible and if you are preparing official documents or formal letters; all you need to do is press a button. Some people have reported success with what's become known as the 'toner tango', whereby the 'empty' cartridge is not so much shaken as 'tangoed' to dislodge any trapped toner.
Are there any alternatives to costly OEM toner cartridges?While there are a growing number of budget printing solutions, be aware that most will nullify you printer's guarantee. Several OEMs now run discounted remanufacturing schemes in addition to the 5000 independent remanufacturing businesses across the states. The cheapest option is to invest in a printer toner refill kit. If you want to have a go yourself it's important to find out exactly how easy it is to access your cartridge's toner hopper (this is easy enough to do online). Note that not all cartridges can be refilled at home.