What do printers do? Well, they make paper copies of what's on your screen. But contrary to what you may think, modern LaserJet toner cartridges don't print using ink. So then how do LaserJet toner cartridges work?
Here's everything you need to know about LaserJet printers, toner cartridges, and which ones are the best to buy.
One of the interesting aspects of laser printers and copiers is the toner.
Rather than the printer applying ink, the paper actually “grabs” the toner.
The toner itself is not ink, but rather an electrically-charged powder made of plastic and pigment.
A LaserJet printer consists of several components. Let's start with the photoreceptor drum assembly, a revolving cylinder made of photoconductive material.
Printers beam a laser beam across the surface of this revolving drum. The drum has a positive charge, but the laser discharges the points it comes in contact with, leaving the resulting image with a negative charge (or vice versa). In this way, the laser draws the document or image you wish to print.The printer then coats the drum not with ink, but with powder. This powder sticks to the electrostatic image the laser has drawn. The powder consists of two ingredients: pigment and plastic. Pigment provides the color, while the plastic is there to adhere the pigment to paper. This mixture, known as toner, is spun in a component called the hopper.
The printer then feeds paper under the drum, first giving the paper a stronger negative charge than that of the electrostatic image. This enables the paper to pull the powder away from the drum.
The paper then passes through a pair of heated rollers referred to as the fuser. As it does, the plastic particles melt and blend with the paper. This process allows the powder to adhere to more types of paper than conventional ink, as long as they can handle the fuser's heat.
This is also why paper is hot when it first comes out of a laser printer.
Toner cartridges may largely do the same task, but they're not all the same. When planned obsolescence kicks in and the time comes to invest in a new one, you want to make sure you're buying a quality product.
To save money and walk away with the kind of experience you want, here are some questions to keep in mind while shopping:
Does the cartridge work in your printer? If you're buying a new cartridge, this is as simple as matching brand and model numbers. But if you're looking at third-party options, you may have to do more research. Even if a cartridge theoretically works with your printer, differences in toner powder or other components can result in damage. Triple-check reviews and whatever other information you can get your hands on.
How much does it cost to print a page? Toner cartridges can be expensive, sometimes more expensive than the cost of the printer itself. When comparing price, look at the cost per page, rather than the total cost of the cartridge. This gives you a more accurate read on whether one cartridge is truly more affordable than another.
How many pages can you print? Toner cartridges may be expensive, but you're getting a lot of pages for your buck. The average compatible toner cartridge for kyocera lasts over 1,500 pages. Some print more, and some print less. How many pages is an acceptable number to you?