Toner cartridge

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A Hewlett-Packard laser toner cartridge Tonerkassette Laserdrucker HP.jpg
A Hewlett-Packard laser toner cartridge

A toner cartridge, also called laser toner, is the consumable component of a laser printer. Toner cartridges contain toner powder, a fine, dry mixture of plastic particles, carbon, and black or other coloring agents that make the actual image on the paper. The toner is transferred to paper via an electrostatically charged drum unit, and fused onto the paper by heated rollers during the printing process. It will not stain like ink cartridges, but it can get messy if handled improperly.



Low-end to mid-range laser printers typically contain two consumable parts: the toner cartridge itself (which has a typical life of 2,000 pages) and the drum unit (a typical life of 40,000 pages). Some toner cartridges incorporate the drum unit in the design, and both drum and cartridge are replaced simultaneously; cost of a cartridge is higher than a toner-only cartridge, although separate drum replacement is avoided. Toner cartridges have the same function as ink cartridges used by inkjet printers.


The price of printer manufacturers' toner cartridges for the cheapest laser printers can exceed the cost of the printer. These cheap printers often come with cartridges containing much less toner than the standard cartridge, quickly requiring replacement. Many companies make generic replacement toner cartridges, sold at much lower prices than the original cartridges. The cartridges may be new or remanufactured (refilled), and the quality varies. There are also toner refill kits, allowing the user to refill an empty cartridge.


Page yield is the number of pages that can be printed with a cartridge. Estimated yield is a number published by manufacturers to provide consumers with an idea of how many pages they can expect from a cartridge. For many years, manufacturers developed their own methods for testing and reporting the yields of their toner cartridges, making it difficult for customers to compare products.

In June 2004, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in conjunction with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), published the ISO/IEC 19752 yield standard for monochrome toner cartridges. This was followed in December 2006 by new standards for color inkjet cartridges (ISO/IEC 24711) and color toner cartridges (ISO/IEC 19798).

ISO yield may differ considerably from user experience, proportionally to the difference between the real use of the printer and ISO standard test pages and conditions.

Cartridge types


Cartridges made by the printer manufacturer are referred to by brandname or as "original equipment manufacturer" (OEM); they are often described as "genuine". Manufacturers warn about the poor quality of third-party cartridges—which their suppliers deny—sometimes stating that their use will void the printer warranty.

OEM toner cartridges are more expensive than refilled, compatible, or re-manufactured cartridges.


"Compatible", "generic", or "alternative brand" are cartridges manufactured by third party companies and sold under different brand names. Compatible cartridges may vary slightly in look, design and page yield to their OEM counterparts, sometimes due to patents or design copyrights. Generic cartridges are cheaper, often significantly so, than original manufacturer cartridges. They may be less reliable, depending upon the manufacturer. Some contain more toner than OEM cartridges, printing more pages. Some compatible toner cartridges may be of similar quality to their OEM competitors, but many are not.

Problems with compatible toners may be caused by various factors including different melting points, different electrostatic qualities, different pigments and different particle sizes, any of which can lead to poor print quality, dirty background or in extreme cases, damage to equipment.


Remanufacturing is, at least, refilling a cartridge with toner. The term implies that the cartridge is also refurbished, with worn or damaged parts replaced. [1] The remanufacturing process, and the quality of the toner, differs between remanufacturers. A poorly remanufactured (or newly manufactured) cartridge may leak, malfunction, or damage the printer. Printer manufacturers use a toner designed to be suitable for their printers; remanufactured and third-party cartridges may use a generic toner which is less well matched.

While toner cartridges are commonly refilled with results reported to be good, in at least some cases this may leave waste toner from each print and paper debris in the cartridge, potentially causing backgrounding problems and producing contamination in the refilled cartridge. [1]

On March 28, 1989, Fred Keen was granted a United States Patent for the "Refillable Toner Cartridge." [2]


Remanufactured, compatible, OEM and refilled toner cartridges are available from a variety of sources across the world. While compatible and OEM cartridges can be purchased off-the-shelf, smaller remanufacturers may refill an empty cartridge supplied by a customer.[ citation needed ] Larger remanufacturers used to collect old, empty and unused cartridges for recycling but nowadays they manufacturer theirs. On average, up to 90% of components from old cartridges can be salvaged and used in remanufactured cartridges, while the other 10% is broken down for recycling. Remanufacturers will put together countless cartridges (OEM and compatible) and sell to the retail market at discounted rates. [3]


Each brand new toner cartridge requires the burning of over two quarts of petroleum in the manufacturing process. In North America alone, more than 200 million litres of petroleum are used to sustain the production of new toner cartridges with the majority of these cartridges ending up in the worlds landfills once empty. Manufactures have responded by developing recycling programs for their used cartridges.

Advocates of more environmentally friendly processes claim that using refilled and remanufactured toner cartridges are much more environmentally friendly than using brand name new cartridges. [4] Refilled and remanufactured cartridges reduce the dependency on petroleum that otherwise would have been used in the manufacture process of the new cartridge. Advocates[ who? ] also claim that the recycling programs devised by manufacturers are not always as environmentally friendly as consumers might think or in comparison to other options that may be available.

See also

Related Research Articles

Printer (computing) Computer peripheral that prints text or graphics

In computing, a printer is a peripheral machine which makes a persistent representation of graphics or text, usually on paper. While most output is human-readable, bar code printers are an example of an expanded use for printers. The different types of printers include 3D printer, inkjet printer, laser printer, thermal printer, etc.

Laser printing Electrostatic digital printing process

Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negatively charged cylinder called a "drum" to define a differentially charged image. The drum then selectively collects electrically charged powdered ink (toner), and transfers the image to paper, which is then heated in order to permanently fuse the text, imagery, or both, to the paper. As with digital photocopiers, laser printers employ a xerographic printing process. Laser printing differs from traditional xerography as implemented in analog photocopiers in that in the latter, the image is formed by reflecting light off an existing document onto the exposed drum.

Inkjet printing Type of computer printing

Inkjet printing is a type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper and plastic substrates. Inkjet printers are the most commonly used type of printer, and range from small inexpensive consumer models to expensive professional machines.

Dye-sublimation printing

Dye-sublimation printing is a computer printing technique which uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as a plastic, card, paper, or fabric. The sublimation name was first applied because the dye was considered to make the transition between the solid and gas states without going through a liquid stage. This understanding of the process was later shown to be incorrect, as there is some liquefying of the dye. Since then, the proper name for the process has become known as dye-diffusion, though this technically-correct term has not supplanted the original name. Many consumer and professional dye-sublimation printers are designed and used for producing photographic prints, ID cards, clothing, and more.

Thermal-transfer printing

Thermal-transfer printing is a digital printing method in which material is applied to paper by melting a coating of ribbon so that it stays glued to the material on which the print is applied. It contrasts with direct thermal printing, where no ribbon is present in the process.


Toner is a powder mixture used in laser printers and photocopiers to form the printed text and images on the paper, in general through a toner cartridge. Mostly granulated plastic, early mixtures only added carbon powder and iron oxide, however, mixtures have since been developed containing polypropylene, fumed silica, and various minerals for triboelectrification. Toner using plant-derived plastic also exists as an alternative to petroleum plastic. Toner particles are melted by the heat of the fuser, and are thus bonded to the paper.

The StyleWriter brand is a line of inkjet serial printers by Apple, targeted mainly towards consumers. They produced print quality that was better than the dot matrix ImageWriters, and were cheaper than the LaserWriters. All but a few models contained Canon print engines, while the last few were re-badged HP DeskJet printers. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he discontinued most of the company's accessory product lines, including the StyleWriter and LaserWriter.

Dot matrix printer

A dot matrix printer is an impact printer that prints using a fixed number of pins or wires. Typically the pins or wires are arranged in one or several vertical columns. The pins strike an ink-coated ribbon and force contact between the ribbon and the paper, so that each pin makes a small dot on the paper. The combination of these dots forms a dot matrix image.


MicroDry is a computer printing system developed by the ALPS corporation of Japan. It is a wax/resin-transfer system using individual colored thermal ribbon cartridges, and can print in process color using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black cartridges, as well as such spot-color cartridges as white, metallic silver, and metallic gold, on a wide variety of paper and transparency stock. Certain MicroDry printers can also operate in dye sublimation mode, using special cartridges and paper. ALPS licensed the technology to Citizen and to Okidata. Alps also produced the actual printer hardware and ink ribbon cartridges for those companies.

Ink cartridge

An ink cartridge or inkjet cartridge is a component of an inkjet printer that contains the ink that is deposited onto paper during printing.

Solid ink

Solid ink is a type of ink used in printing. Solid ink is a waxy resin-based polymer that must be melted prior to usage, unlike conventional liquid inks. The technology is used most in graphics and large format printing environments, where color vividness and cost efficiency are important.

ISO/IEC 19752Information technology — Method for the determination of toner cartridge yield for monochromatic electrophotographic printers and multi-function devices that contain printer components is an ISO standard method for the determination of toner cartridge yield for monochrome laser printers, introduced in June 2004.

Compatible ink is manufactured by third party manufacturers and is designed to work in designated printers without infringing on patents of printer manufacturers. Compatible inks and toners may come in a variety of packaging including sealed plastic wraps or taped plastic wraps. Regardless of packaging, compatible products are generally priced lower than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) brand inks and toners.

Dynamic Cassette International (DCI) is an internationally recognised Boston, Lincolnshire, UK based ink cartridge and laser toner manufacturing company, producing products under the Jet Tec brand name. DCI is the sole UK manufacturer of compatible ink cartridges. DCI is notable for winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation in 2004 and the Queen's Award for Export and being one of the biggest employers in Boston, employing over 300 staff at its 40,000 square metres factory. The company is currently Europe's largest manufacturer of compatible inkjet cartridges and has a turnover in excess of £20 million.

Toner refill

Toner refilling is the practice of refilling empty laser printer toner cartridges with new toner powder. This enables the cartridge to be reused, saving the cost of a complete new cartridge and the impact of the waste and disposal of the old one.

In 2009, the ISO published the International Standard for determining the ink cartridge yield for colour inkjet printers and multifunctional devices. This standard is used to prescribe the test method that manufacturers and test labs use to determine ink jet cartridge yields. It also standardizes the appropriate method of describing the yield of cartridges in documentation supplied to the consumer by the manufacturer. Manufacturers of printers or devices that use colour ink jet technology are meant to abide by this standard when testing for, and labeling the estimated yields of their products.

Island Ink-Jet is a large printer ink and laser toner supply chain store with stores in Canada and Puerto Rico. The brand is currently owned by The Equipment leasing company ltd. and based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and locations operate under a franchising business model. The chain offer a printer ink cartridge refill service and sell several varieties of ink cartridges and toner cartridges including remanufactured cartridges.

Remax World Expo

The RemaxWorld Expo is an annual trade show comprising vendors from within the print consumables industry. The event began in 2007, resulting from a joint venture between the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and Recycling Times Media Corporation. Centered in Zhuhai, widely recognized as being the print consumables capital of the world, the exhibition currently takes place in the newly constructed Zhuhai International Convention & Exhibition Center. In 2015, the show accommodated 463 exhibitors and 13,938 visitors from 83 countries.

Stone Paper products, generically referred to as bio-plastic paper, mineral paper or rich mineral paper, are strong and durable paper-like material manufactured from calcium carbonate bonded with small amount of resin high-density polyethylene (HDPE). They are used for stationery, leaflets, posters, books, magazines, bags, packaging, wallpaper, adhesives, tags, in-mould labels, plates, trays, containers, and maps among other uses.

Katun is a supplier of OEM-compatible imaging consumables and supplies for office equipment. Katun designs, manufactures, sells, and distributes OEM-compatible imaging products for copiers, printers, and other imaging equipment worldwide.


  1. 1 2 Uninet: Remanufacturing the Brother HL23xx cartridge
  2. U.S. Patent Office: Refillable toner cartridge and method of manufacture thereof
  3. "Remanufactured Toner Cartridges". Retrieved 26 April 2017.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-02-04.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)