Printer Toner -The Cost Effective Solution to Color

June 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Equipment Tips

Compared to the human body, a toner cartridge would definitely be the heart of this technological wonder. This heart supplies the printer with an essential substance – printer toner. Just like blood fluent through a human heart to exist and act, toner is required for printing devices to exercise their role in the world.

In a larger role, printer toner is not only the life line for printers, it plays an important role in the life of people all over the world. How would a business operate today without the use of a printer, copier or fax? And, despite the rapid increase in development of electronic documentation, the number of hard copies, whether it’s text document, artwork or color images, is growing ten fold every year.

Have you ever wondered what toner is and how it is made, which a professional life is virtually impossible without. Toner is the combining of chemical agents, waxes, plastics and resins blended togather cooled and pulverized into tiny particles of dust. Originally and up to date, the toner was made using a melt intermixture or hot compounding process. The named ingredients are blended while molten to produce a homogenous paste. Afterwards, the paste is cooled, and there are a few ways of cooling it. The mix is either slabbed out by extruding it onto a cooling belt, or it is pelletized and then the pellets are cooled.

In the next stage, the toner pellets are to be ground to powder usually by air-swept hammer mills or jet mills. The result of this grinding is toner particles of different sizes. Running the particles through sifters often make the particles more uniform by removing the larger and smaller pieces. The sorted out particles are mixed with additives to enhance the properties of the toner. This is a traditional way of producing pulverized toner, and the resulting toner particle size averages about 8 microns down to 3 microns. If you take a look at a hair, 8 microns would be 1/3 of its breadth and at 3 microns that is about the size of sheet rock dust when sanded.

Over time the various size of particles determined the printing resolution. Thus, 8 micron particles tally to 600 dpi (dots per inch) resolution, while 12 micron particles (the commencement of  laser printer use) were only able to provide 300 dots per inch.

The traditional way of making toner is grinding. What is the modern way?

Overtaking the need to grind the particles was the field of chemistry. This way of making toner involves growing the particles out of molecules in an emulsion made from all of the ingredients dissolved or suspended in a liquid.

The chemical toner manufacturing initially started in the mid-nineties and until recently has begun to become more and more widespread. However, the chemical toner is so far less common compared to its traditional counterpart, (but is gaining popularity rapidly).

Chemically made toner particles are less expensive to produce because they are literally grown in a controlled process, the particles have a lot more consistent bodily structure and size –more round than the random-sized, crystal-like shards typical of pulverized toner.

Grinding particles created sharp crystal like beads, but, chemical toner had smooth round surfaces that created a more even powder for merging.   Such particles hold a more uniform electrostatic charge in the laser printer, which importantly affect the printing caliber and smooth blending of color toners.

The process of creating chemical toner leads to a more expansive use over traditional toner.  The particles can be made smaller — down to 4 microns — half the size of the littlest particle that can be made by the conventional grinding.

As a result of using smaller toner particles has provided for higher page yields. It is estimated that, compared to 8 micron particles, about 40% less 4 micron toner is needed to produce the same print.

The chemical toner requires up to 40 percent less energy to manufacturer and reduces the carbon footprint. Apart from production, the chemical toner is energy-saving in use as it allows the printer fuser to heat and fuse at a lower temperature speed and the overall printing process and first page printed time is drastically decreased.

While all the process is quite unique for most, it is the toner cartridges that hold the toner and allot the right amount of toner that keeps everything operating smoothly.

The advancement in toner technology has created the means to blend 4 colours of individual toner in printer cartridges to give the color laser printer the ability to create smooth dithering and  photo lab quality in the new printers. Small particles equal smoother and more compatible blending of the toners to create a spectrum of colors and metallic looks.

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