You may find through trial and error that not all color toner printer cartridges use the same quality of ink particles. The truth is that the size of the toner particles has been an ongoing problem within the industry.

Quality color toner cartridges
Color toner has smaller particles making tolerances more critical

Here’s a bit of the science behind this issue with color toner. The smaller the dust-like toner particles, the less likely they are to clog the print heads.  At 8 microns, the particles are less than half of the size in circumference of a single strand of your hair. A cartridge using 8 micron toner provides 600 DPI print resolution. The 600 DPI refers to the diameter of the laser beam capable of producing 600 dots per inch.

The color printer toner particles consist of plastic resins, coloring pigments and other ingredients, which must, at a low heat, be melted into liquid. When delivered to the paper by the cartridge’s electrostatic drum unit,  the particles are then sort of squashed into a solid and fused to the paper as this liquid makes contact. The resins give toner the ability to go from fine powder to plastic solid.

As you can imagine, the problems your color toner cartridges might have will really be magnified when they clog the print heads or leak. This is especially true with color more so than black as the tolerances are finer, meaning there’s more chance of breaking the seal and leaking. If you do have a toner particle spill, wipe up with a damp cloth. A household vacuum will not be best for this cleanup due to electrostatic electricity.

The real key to getting the best color printing available is in the quality of the printer or copier that you are using. You need to know the internal color depth resolution capabilities of your printer or copier. Older models provide 18-bit color depth compared to the newer standard model printers or copiers that offer 24-bit on the internal color depth resolution chart. The higher the bit count on the color depth chart, the better the quality of your color copies. For instance, using the internal color depth resolution scale, 1-bit is the equivalent of black and white printing. The best inks available will mean nothing if the quality of the printer is not up to par.

Magenta color toner has smaller particles
Color toner like this magenta toner has smaller particles and is more difficult to manufacture, making it more costly than black toner.

The more color cartridges that your printer uses, the better resolution and crispness of color. Most laser printers use either one or four toner cartridges. The printers that use just one toner cartridge are monochrome (black only). The printers that use four cartridges typically have black, cyan, magenta and yellow. That being said, the print quality is also realized by the quality of the toner cartridges that you are using.

They are not all created equal, as you have undoubtedly experienced. And remember, you do not have to use OEM toner cartridges to get the best quality. There are a number of really good remanufactured or compatible toner cartridges that provide excellent color quality such as LINKYO brand.

When you replace your used up toner cartridges, be sure to thoroughly shake the new replacement toner cartridge. A simple step such as this can keep the powdered toner from clumping inside the toner cartridge, giving you a much more even distribution of toner eliminating poor print quality.

The problems that you are having with the color quality of your printing or copying may not be related to the toner cartridges at all, but more of a problem with how the printer or copier has been maintained, which may involve cleaning. Learn more about this by reading “How to Clean your Laser Printer.”  By not doing the little things necessary to keep your equipment operational, you may end up losing money by the down time created or by replacing color printer toner cartridges unnecessarily when they are actually performing as they were intended to do so.

+Scott Roy Smith


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