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 flowing through a human heart to exist and act, toner is required for printing devices to perform their role in the world.
Printer Toner for Printers
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. Can you imagine a business office without a printer, or copier of fax in it? And, despite the rapid increase in development of electronic documentation, the number of hard copies, whether it’s text document, graphics 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. Simply put, toner is a mix of resins, plastic, waxes and some other additional chemical agents merged together and then smashed into tiny little particles, into dust. Originally and up to date, the toner was made using a melt mixing 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. The particles that are too big or too small are then sifted out several times. 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 width and at 3 microns that is about the size of sheet rock dust when sanded.
The size of toner particles coincides with printing resolution. Thus, 8 micron particles correspond to 600 dpi (dots per inch) resolution, while 12 micron particles (the beginning 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?
The production approach that came to shift the grinding came from 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 1990s and until recently has begun to become more and more widespread. However, the chemical toner is still 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 structure and size –more round than the random-sized, crystal-like shards typical of pulverized toner.
The round, smooth surface of particles help them flow better in the powder state. Such particles hold a more uniform electrostatic charge in the laser printer, which significantly affect the printing quality and smooth blending of color toners.
The new approach of making toner has a number of benefits over conventional toner. The particles can be made smaller — down to 4 microns — half the size of the smallest particle that can be made by the conventional grinding.
The fact that the smaller toner particles size provides a higher page yield. 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 reduced.
While all the process is quite unique for most, it is the toner cartridges that hold the toner and dispense the right amount of toner that keeps everything operating smoothly.
The advancement in toner technology has created the means to blend 4 colors 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.