What is Printer Toner?

Printer toner is a fine powder that’s used in laser printers and photocopiers; whereas printer ink is a liquid used in inkjet printers and is tinted with pigments or dyes.


Toner is made up mostly of finely ground polyester, which is a type of plastic. Printer toner is used in laser printers and copiers to form the printed text and images on the paper. In its early form it was a mix of carbon powder and iron oxide. Then, to improve the quality of the printout, the carbon was melt-mixed with a polymer. Toner particles are melted by the heat of the fuser, and are thus bonded to the paper. These printers print fast and text comes out sharp and clear. Because of the fast speed and quality text, laser printers are commonly found in busy environments.

toner powder

In earlier photocopiers, this low-cost carbon toner was poured by the user from a bottle into a reservoir in the machine. Later copiers, and laser printers from the first 1984 Hewlett-Packard LaserJet, feed directly from a sealed toner cartridge.

Laser toner cartridges for use in color copiers and printers come in sets of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), allowing a very large color gamut to be generated by mixing.


Ink is shot directly onto the page by an inkjet printer. It usually takes a little bit longer to print than laser printers. Generally, inkjet printers are used for photo printer in small or home offices.

There are two primary categories of inkjet ink: dye-based or pigment-based. Dye-based inks consist of colorants that are dissolved in a liquid. Pigmented inks, on the other hand, use ultra-fine powder that’s suspended in liquid. If you want to know exactly what’s in these inks, good luck to you. Inkjet cartridges are a huge revenue generator for printer companies, and they carefully guard their formulas.

printer ink