How does a laser toner cartridge work? What is the role of the toner? How do I buy a good laser toner cartridge? These are some common questions that many people looking forward to buying laser printers ask. In this post, we will tell you everything that you need to know about toner cartridges.

How does a Toner Cartridge Work?


One notable thing about laser printers is that when printing, instead of applying ink the way an inkjet works, the toner is grabbed by the paper. It is also important to note that toner that is used to print is not ink, but an electrostatically-charged powder that is made of fine pigments and plastic. So, here is how the process of printing takes place.

  • Preparing to Print

A Laser printer comprises a number of parts, including the photoreceptor, drum assembly, and a revolving cylinder designed with a photoconductive material.

First, a printer laser beam is directed across the surface of the revolving drum (with positive charges), and discharges all the points of what you want to print, resulting in an image or text with a negative charge. This implies that the laser makes the image or the text that you want to print on the drum.

Then, the drum is coated with toner powder that sticks to the image/ text (areas with negative charges) that were created by the laser. Note that this toner is made up of two key ingredients, plastic, and pigments. The pigments will provide the color to create the image/ text that you want, while the plastic will ensure that the color sticks permanently on the paper. The mixture that we have demonstrated above is spun fast on a component referred to as a hopper.

  • The Printing Process

As the spinning continues, the printer feeds the papers below the drum. This means that the paper is first given a strong negative charge compared to that of the image/text on the drum. So, when the paper moves close to the drum, the negative charges attract positively charged toner particles from the drum.  This means that the image has been transferred to the paper, but is yet to be fixed.

Finally, the paper is moved via a fuser, which rapidly melts the plastic in the toner and blends the image/text with the paper.

Using toner products, you can use many types of papers compared to the printing ink. Well, as long as the paper can be able to handle the heat in the fuser, it is possible to print it using a laser toner cartridge.

Types of Toner Cartridges


As technology advances, it is now possible to design more types of toner cartridges, allowing people to enjoy more options depending on personal choices. Toner cartridges fall into three main categories:

  • OEM (original equipment manufacturer) toner cartridges:

These toner cartridges are designed by the same company that manufactured your printer. Notably, these toner cartridges provide the highest quality pints, but they are also the most expensive. Therefore, if you are looking forward to cutting the cost of printing, it is advisable to consider the next two models.

  • The compatible toner cartridges:

This is another category of high-quality toner cartridges in the market. Unlike the OEM models, compatible/ generic toners are made by third parties.

  • Remanufactured toner cartridges:

These toner cartridges are made by recycling the used toner cartridges. The process involves collecting the used toner cartridges and inspecting them to identify the ones that are recyclable. Then, the worn-out sections are replaced before being refilled with new toner. If you prefer to use the remanufactured toner cartridges, the cost of printing comes down significantly, but the quality of the print is also low.

Key Questions to Ask When Buying a Toner Cartridge


Now that you know the different types of toner cartridges and how they work, the next thing is buying them. Well, this can be confusing because of the large number of models in the market.  To be sure of selecting the best toner cartridge, here are the main questions to ask.

  1. What laser toner cartridge works in my printer?

Notably, laser printers are different and work with different types of cartridges. To know the right toner cartridge, you should check the printer manual for the model number. You can also remove the cartridge from the printer and check the model on the label. The printer manufacturer can also tell you the model number.

  1. What is the cost of printing per page?

When you look at the cost of toner cartridges, it can at times, be more than the price tag of the printer. However, the right method of determining the cost of the toner is calculating the cost per page. To do this, you should take the overall price of the toner cartridge and divide it by the page yield. This way, you can be able to say how cost-effective it is to use the toner cartridge.

  1. Can the toner cartridge be refilled?

A refillable toner cartridge implies that instead of throwing away a cartridge immediately the toner is over, you add more toner and continue using it. This means three things:

  • You are able to reduce the waste getting into the environment.
  • You extend the utility of the toner cartridge.
  • You cut the cost of buying a new cartridge.
  1. What is the quality of the print?

For all the three other questions, it is easy to answer by simply checking the information that is printed on the box of the cartridge, but it is different when it comes to quality. According to, the best way to know about print quality is by reading through reviews and feedbacks from past clients. If most of the past users were happy with the print quality, you should also expect to enjoy similar good results.



When using a laser printer, it is very important to understand its operation mechanics, especially how the laser cartridge works. In this post, we have demonstrated how the process of printing takes place, the main types of cartridges, and questions that can help you to identify the best one for your printer.