Buying a new toner cartridge for your printer should be as simple as popping into your local printer supplies shop (virtually or not) and picking a relevant cartridge.
However, like most technologies buying toner cartridges for laser printers and copiers often creates questions for the purchaser. Questions like ‘what type of toner should I buy?’ ‘How many cartridges should I buy?’ and ‘how much should I spend?’ are only one part of deciding what toner to buy.
In order to pick the correct toner, there are some other things you should consider:
This should be your first consideration when buying a toner, as there are various brands and types of laser-printing devices that use toner cartridges. Most toner cartridges will be marked with a manufacture’s part number and you can use this number to order exactly the same toner the cartridge whether online or when ordering by phone.
What’s your type?
OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) are cartridges that are manufactured by the same company that manufactured the device, so for example Xerox ink cartridges would be described as OEM cartridges for a Xerox printer. These types of cartridges are characterised by their high quality print and reliability, for this reason they are usually more expensive than others.
Compatible cartridges are generic non-branded cartridges that are still built to work in specific printers at a lower cost than OEM cartridges ,cartridges, making them a great choice for the money-conscious consumer. However, a note of caution: lower-quality brands can cause performance issues with devices and produce a lower quality of print.
Remanufactured cartridges are often confused with compatible cartridges. They are very similar, however, there is one fundamental difference, remanufactured cartridges are used cartridges renovated with new parts. They are a cost-effective printing solution for those who are environmentally conscious.
Refill cartridges are also commonly confused with remanufactured cartridges. Remanufacturing (like it sounds) involves replacing worn parts of a cartridge to get it back to a working state, where refilling simply involves refilling the ink. Although this is the cheaper option compared to the OEM cartridges, users will compromise on print quality.
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This is an important consideration; you'll want to print the maximum number of pages from your chosen toner cartridge. A top tip is to check out the product codes; manufacturers normally use an 'X' to show they are high yield toners. These are better from a price per page perspective (cost of toner divided by page yield).
Alternatively, page yield is calculated by assuming a standard of 5% coverage per page - approximately two paragraphs of text per page. So it might give an opimistic page yield for the text & image heavy work of many office printers but it's still a helpful guide when comparing toner cartridges to each other.
Toner is not the same as ink!
Unlike toner, because ink is a liquid that is sprayed onto the paper, meaning even after it dries if the paper gets wet it will bleed. As toners use fast drying plastic powders it prevents documents from bleeding and smudging. So make sure you are buying a toner and not ink.
It's important to consider what types of job you're printing, and what quality you need in order to get the best value from your cartridge. For example, if you're printing out a high volume of black test print jobs then you're not going to want to use an expensive colour cartridge; to get best value you'd want to choose a cartridge specific for this type of job. But, if you need to print colour flyer you would want a higher quality of toner, which might be more expensive but would give a bright and crisp, professional finish.
If the document your printing is eventually destined to end up in the bin, or is just filed for internal reference, you should firstly encourage your team to consider whether it's worth printing at all, or if it can be held electronically. But if you need to print, you can stretch your toner budget further by reducing the amount of toner used and printing out these documents using the black and white, or greyscale options, or by reducing the quality level.
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