Printer Toner Cost: All You Need to Know



When you think of an "office printer", you probably imagine a veritable workhorse: a laser printer or copier. Laser printing technology and its toner cartridges are known and loved for their quick and crisp printouts. So much so, that it’s becoming a popular choice for home offices too!

Still, many people are frustrated with printer toner cost. Today, we'll tackle everything you need to know about the ongoing costs of running your laser printer.

Read on to find out if the high cost of toner is justified, who should opt for laser printing, and what kind of toner cartridge is the most economical choice for you or your business!

What Is Toner Anyway?

If you have a laser printer, you know that cozy feeling of warm, freshly printed paper. It comes out warm because your printer melts and seals toner on the paper. Inside the cartridge, before being used for printing, toner is a bunch of dry, powdery particles.

Usually, toner is made out of  granulated polyester. It may contain carbon powder, polypropylene, silica, iron, zinc, and alternative materials like plant-derived plastic.

In general, there’s no single formula for toner. Toners coming from different factories may have different particle sizes, chemical formulas, and physical properties like melting points. Manufacturers around the world work on developing safer, more efficient, and more precise toner formulas by the day.

Ink Cartridge with Powder Spilled Out

Why Is OEM Laser Toner So Expensive?

So, is developing and producing toner so expensive to warrant the high price tag on most genuine name-brand toner cartridges? No. But making new and better printers is.

When you think about it, printers are dirt cheap. Most manufacturers sell printers at a low markup or even at a loss.

Printers are available for a low initial price but with a high running cost. These inexpensive machines keep printing for years - requiring toner or ink to fuel them all along.

Each toner cartridge you get costs a little extra. Along with making a profit, printing companies also use this markup to invest in developing next-generation printers.

Check out our article HP Hikes Prices On Printers, Ink & Toner

Are OEM Toner Cartridges Worth the Money?

Yes! Original toner is made to print flawlessly and meet the  quality control standards your printer needs for a long life. Good refill or compatible toner can be found - but it’s like finding a needle in a haystack.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have no issues with a refill or compatible toner. However, there’s always the risk of a low-quality product that can leave you frustrated with your printer.

Broken Open Toner Cartridge

Toner pigment comes in tiny particles inside the cartridge. Particle size and chemical composition differ between manufacturers. That makes OEM toners that are perfect for your printer almost impossible to recreate.

  • Low-quality toners may have inconsistent particle sizes, which results in inconsistent print quality at best. At worst, it can damage the printer’s fuser.
  • Most OEM cartridge designs are copyrighted, forcing compatible toners to tweak and adjust their cartridges. The slight design differences may cause unnecessary wear and print job failures.
  • All laser printer cartridges are equipped with a printer drum, a photosensitive unit that transfers toner to the paper. The drum weakens with use, but not all remanufacturers replace them with new ones when refilling cartridges.

Wondering what a toner cartridge factory looks like on the inside?

➜ Take a look at our article  Your Ultimate Guide to Genuine HP Toner

What is Cheaper - Toner or Ink?

You can get a cartridge of inkjet printer ink for as little as $15, and a new laser toner cartridge for your printer will cost upwards of $50. Still, it’s widely accepted that toner is cheaper than ink. How come?

It all boils down to how much each page you print costs you.

➜ Check also The Cheapest Printer Toners by Brand (All Under $60!)

What Is Toner Cartridge Yield?

Each cartridge on the market is labeled with its approximate yield to give you a picture of what to expect. Yield tells you how many pages you can print with that particular ink or toner cartridge.

  • An average ink cartridge yields a bit over 200 pages of text.
  • A toner cartridge will output an average of 2500 pages of text.

When calculating yield, most manufacturers assume about 5% of an A4 or Letter-size paper will be covered in print.

With more than 10x the efficiency, toner is more expensive upfront, but it pays off over time.

If you rarely use your printer, a laser printer will likely save you time and money down the line.

Of course, choosing the right printer for your needs isn’t as simple as getting the cheapest cost per page possible. Inkjets far outperform laser printers in image printing, while lasers are quicker to output page after page of super-crisp text. Your printing technology of choice will ultimately depend on the type of print jobs you do the most.

Inserting Color Toner into Printer

How Often Do You Need To Replace Toner Cartridges?

To find out how much you can print with a certain cartridge, check its page yield. That number should give you a picture of how much pigment there is inside. You may find that ink or toner for your printer is sold in two cartridge sizes: normal and high-yield.

But if you need a printer only occasionally, there’s a chance you won’t use up all of your ink in time.

  • Ink expires in two-three years
  • Toner doesn’t expire

This non-expiring characteristic of toner is a significant advantage for users who do not print frequently and wish to avoid the waste associated with expired ink.

For instance, a standard toner cartridge like the W2020A can retain its quality over time, unlike an F6U64AN ink cartridge, which can dry up or clog if not used regularly.

That means if you don’t use your inkjet printer for a while, you may not be able to print when you turn it back on.

Therefore, for those who print infrequently, toner cartridges offer a reliable solution that can help minimize replacement frequency and reduce waste.

Should I Buy High-Yield Toner?

Due to ink’s limited shelf life, it’s not always a good idea to purchase high-yield ink cartridges. Simply put, the ink may go bad before you manage to use it up. It only makes sense to go for high-yield cartridges if you use your printer often or have an intense printing job upcoming.

Unlike ink cartridges, toner practically doesn’t need replacing before it’s all emptied out!

Changing Toner Cartridge

You’ll be able to use your laser toner printer even after years of sitting in a dark, forgotten corner. So, it makes sense to invest in a high-yield toner cartridge, even if you don't print a lot.

If you didn’t use your laser printer in a while, you can bring it back to pristine condition yourself. It’s as simple as cleaning the printer and pulling out the toner cartridges to shake them.

Shaking moves toner particles that might be stuck on the walls of the cartridge. If there are no structural issues, cleaning and shaking is all the maintenance you need to get your old laser printer back in shape.

Toner Doesn’t Have To Cost an Arm and a Leg

Considering its high quality, long shelf life, and high page yield, toner turns out to be a rather affordable way to print.

If you want to make sure you get the lowest price for genuine OEM toner and ink, look no further than Toner Buzz!

Further Reading:

Rob Errera

Rob Errera

Rob Errera is an award-winning journalist embedded in the world of printers and printing supplies. Rob has nearly two decades of experience writing about cutting edge technology, business trends, and the ever-evolving industry of printing.

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