Laser toner is the ink for laser printers. It is an extremely fine synthetic powder (usually plastic) packed into a cartridge. You insert the cartridge into your laser printer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the printer goes to print a page, there are several steps to the process:
1. The printer receives an image from your computer.
2. Lasers project the image onto an electromagnetic drum.
3. The drum is charged positively and negatively, and at varying levels of charge, according to the image.
4. The drum attracts the four colors of toner in the cartridge according to the charges the colors are attracted to. The four colors mix to create any of millions of colors.
5. The drum rolls the image onto a page of paper, the page goes through a heating device to melt or burn the color onto the page, and the page is ejected.
This process uses up a lot of laser toner. Typically, a laser toner cartridge will yield a few thousand pages before needing to be replaced. The drum, too, eventually wears out from all the positive and negative charges it gives off, and needs to be replaced every 10,000 – 30,000 pages. Some printers are made with cartridge-and-drum replacement units in mind, while other printers are designed to separate the cartridge and drum. This way, when the cartridge runs out of toner, you don’t have to replace the longer lasting drum with it. This saves you money.
You can buy laser toner from your printer’s manufacturer, a computer supply store, online, or at any of a number of other types of retailers. To save money, you might want to consider buying in bulk.
Three of the most popular brands of laser toner are HP, Brother, and Samsung.