Difference Between Ink and Toner (With Table)

Printers are external peripheral device that is connected to the computer to print text and images. Earlier dot-matrix printers were used to print data on paper. Today digital printers like inkjet and laser printers use ink or toners to print images and text on paper using different cartridges. The difference in ink and toner varies in the quality of printing and cost of print.

Ink vs Toner

The difference between Ink and Toner is that ink is a liquid used in the inkjet printer where the ink is sprayed on the paper through the print head, whereas the toner is a colored powder used in laser printers to print documents. Ink has limited life and dries out when it is not used, whereas Toner lasts for a long time.

Ink is stored in the ink cartridge and is sprayed on the paper with the help of print heads. The ink comes either in dye or pigmented form. However, dye ink gets faded after twenty-five years and is not waterproof. The pigmented ink lasts for a long time. Ink cartridges are best suitable for home use.

On the other hand, toner is a powered color that has to be handled with care to avoid wastage. Toners are transferred onto the paper through a printing drum and then heated to melt the powder. Toner printing is best suitable for commercial use. Toner printers are more expensive than Ink printers.

Comparison Table Between Ink and Toner

Parameters of ComparisonInk Toner  
DefinitionInk is a liquid used in Inkjet printers to print images and text.Toner is a fine powder used in laser printers, usually to print documents.
Made ofInk is made up of water, natural components, colors, and glycol.Toner is made up of Carbon powder.
CostInk cartridges are less expensive and easily replaceable.Toners are more expensive than Inks.
Shelf lifeInk fades as the year passes. It only lasts for twenty-five years.Toner has an unlimited shelf life.
ConsInk gets dry when not used for a long time.Toners are difficult to handle and refill.

What is Ink?

Inkjet printers are one of the most used printers to print documents and graphics on paper. Inkjet printers are cost-effective printers usually used in small businesses and homes. The inkjet printers use ink cartridges that have various color compartments. The colors are in the form of ink that is sprayed on the paper using the printing heads. The ink colors are made up of dyes or pigments. Earlier dye inks were used to perform better than pigmented ink because of clogging in the nozzles of the print head. The pigmented colors give high-quality prints. UV inks are widely used in inkjet printings as they reduce the problems of clogging, high ink consumptions and eliminate VOC emission.

Inkjet printers are preferred to print photos and graphics. It has a higher resolution and more memory compared to other printers. External memory cards can also be attached to store and print photos. Inkjet printers and cartridges come in various forms depending on the quality, usage, and colors. The only disadvantage of ink printers is that ink dries out when not used for a long time, and it is quite expensive to replace the ink cartridges. That is why ink printers are used in small business and home printing purposes.

What is Toner?

Toner is a powder used in Laser printers. Toners are used in electrophotography or laser printers where the toner is attached to the paper, and the printing drum is charged to print the text. Most of the printers use dry toners. There are two types of toners: one is a magnetic toner that prints many documents at high speed, and the other is a non-magnetic printer that has low speed and prints limited documents. Toners use polyester resins as a binder, and they are fused either using hot roller fusing or flash fusing.

The toner is also available in the liquid form referred to as electro ink used to print latent images. Toners and electrophotography use the latest technologies to make high-quality printing. Web printings also use toners and laser printers. Laser printers are expensive and require more maintenance, due to which they may lose the market over inkjet. However, productivity and high-quality printing are the biggest strength of toner or laser printers.

Main Differences Between Ink and Toner

  1. Ink is a liquid made of dyes or pigments used in inkjet printers to print images and text on paper, whereas toner is a carbon powder used in laser printers.
  2. Ink is cheaper and easily replaceable than Toners.
  3. Ink is stored in the ink cartridges, while Toners are stored in the Toner cartridges.
  4. Ink is sprayed on the paper using the printing heads, while the Toner is covered on the sheet by charging the printing drum, and then the sheet is heated to melt the toner.
  5. Ink cartridges are suitable for printing short-term use documents or home purposes, whereas the toner cartridges are suitable for commercial use.


The printing industry has revolutionized in the past years. Laser and inkjet printers are preferred for home and commercial as they print high-quality documents. Both Inkjet printers and laser printers are in high demand. Inkjet printers and laser printers have some pros and cons. It is best to choose one depending on the parameters like type of work, budget, speed, usage time, s[and others. Laser printers are best for bulk printing documents as they have high quality and has high speed compared to Inkjet printers. On the other hand, Inkjet printers are suitable for home purposes.  Inkjet printers are still in the development process and are considered environmentally friendly than laser printers that require more power.


  1. https://cris.vtt.fi/en/publications/environmental-performance-of-digital-printing-literature-study
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4S3Q9jOiZdYC&oi=fnd&pg=PP2&dq=electronics+simplified+by+ian+sinclair&ots=Oo92aBaD6n&sig=r1uuHwHP-qxvYpLFb0BbooyYhfY
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