The most common forms of printers used in offices, copy shops, and homes today are inkjet printers and laser printers. The latter require a colorant called toner to be able to put print jobs on the paper. In terms of durability, this fine powder is years superior to inkjet printer cartridges. In this article you will learn some interesting details about toner: durability, developments by well-known manufacturers and further information we have put together for you here.
What exactly is toner
As already mentioned at the beginning, the toner is a colorant, which is used for so-called electrostatic printing processes. Thus, toner is used in laser printers and copiers. The composition of toner looks like this:
- The powder consists of synthetic resin, metal oxides, additives and, most importantly, pigments
- These pigments are the actual coloring substances in the toner
- The powder consists in its entirety of very small particles (between 5 and 30 micrometers)
- Due to this small particle size, the powder is so fine that it becomes flowable and acts like a liquid.
Toner is a fine powder made up of several components
For laser printers, the most common colors are black, cyan (a color that depicts a transition between blue and green), magenta (a red-blue color, also known as light purple) and yellow (often referred to as yellow) The last three colors mentioned are of course only required in color laser printers; they can be used to mix all the colors that are required for color prints. Toner powder is supplied in a cartridge that is inserted into the printer and dispenses toner there as required. Thus, toner is the essential printer accessory for laser printers.
How long does toner last
The core question of this article is about the regular toner life. It should be said in advance that no definitive statement á la: “This toner has a shelf life of 36 months” can be made. At this point, however, a remark can already be made that will reassure many readers: When stored correctly, toner has practically no expiry date!
We will discuss the aspect of optimal storage of toner cartridges in more detail in a separate article.
Due to its powdery nature, toner can neither dry up nor stick , which distinguishes it from printer inks or printer cartridges and extends its shelf life enormously. In addition, toner manufacturers are usually designed for long ranges and large print volumes. Original toners in particular are often very expensive to develop and manufacture, so that it can be seen as a fair move by the manufacturer to offer customers a certain amount of service for their money.
Toner: Expiration date given by the manufacturer
Despite the above, you may notice something about the packaging of your toner: an expiration date is actually listed here. As a rule, a minimum shelf life of 24 months is specified.
Regulations and guidelines (especially within the EU) often force manufacturers to specify a best-before date for their products. But according to the motto: “Best before” does not automatically mean “Immediately fatally off”, it does not mean that you have to dispose of your toner immediately . Basically, the producers only insure themselves in accordance with the applicable laws.
How long can toner be kept open
A toner cartridge packed in the original box may give the user a good feeling about the toner durability. However, an unpacked toner does not mean that the durability will automatically decrease rapidly. As already mentioned, the nature of the colorant naturally ensures a long shelf life . First of all, you can confidently rely on the guarantee that the manufacturer and retailer give you (here at InkCenter, for example, you receive a three-year guarantee on both original and compatible toners). Even after this warranty has expired, in most cases it should not be a problem to continue using the toner.
Reactivate toner cartridges
If you have not used the cartridges in your color laser printer for a long period of time, you can take the following steps to ensure that the printing process works properly again:
Turn off the printer.
To be on the safe side, pull out the power plug and let the device cool down for at least half an hour if you have used it recently.
Remove the toner cartridges (by the way, you will find valuable tips on changing the toner here ).
Just in case, make sure not to wear expensive clothes. It is best to put on work clothes that you normally use for painting or gardening.
Go outside with the cartridges or cover your surroundings with painters’ foil or something similar. This is also to be understood as a precautionary measure.
Shake the cartridges carefully but thoroughly so that the powder can be optimally redistributed inside.
You can then reinsert the toner cartridges and connect the device to the mains again.
After the warm-up period, you should be able to print as usual.
Toner cartridges: Shelf life does not only depend on the toner
As noted several times in this article, the toner itself has almost eternal life. However, it looks a little different with the cartridges that serve as a container for the powder. This is because these can contain wear parts (for example, print heads similar to those of printer cartridges) that can become porous over time . In this case, too, you can rely on the reliability of the manufacturer’s guarantee; after the process has expired, however, as a precaution, you should take a close look if you notice any imperfections in the print image or other abnormalities. In such cases it is not uncommon to clean the laser printer – but if in doubt, you should be on the safe side and replace the cartridge.
Laser printer and toner: utilize the service life and order in stock
Whether you use a laser printer from Brother, Epson, Samsung, Kyocera or Canon: the toner durability is comparably high with all providers. Therefore, it is not only advisable, but also risk-free, to stock up on toner cartridges in order to avoid the device downtime in the event of an accident. So if you find that there is an attractive discount on original cartridges for your printer, you can buy it without hesitation. Or they use compatible toner.
Depending on the provider, these are recycled products or replicas of the originals. Regardless of the source, these products also go through strict quality controls and are resold to the user with a dealer guarantee. In many cases, the prices for compatible toners are significantly lower than those of the original products, as the manufacturers of the same allow their good name to be paid dearly by the end user. A test and stocking up on compatible toner is definitely worth it.