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  • Writer's pictureCatPrint Team

What's the difference? Toner vs. Ink

Often heard used interchangeably, these are actually two very different things with the same purpose. Ink and toner are the materials that are used to create any printed image but with different techniques and outcomes. It is kind of like the difference between writing with a marker and writing with a colored pencil.

CMYK Toner

Ink: For Inkjet Printers

Ink is used most commonly in inkjet printers for basic personal printing, like for home and school use. However, there are different types of inks - and it matters!

Dye Based Ink

The dye is absorbed by the paper which provides bright, vivid colors, which is very good for color printing photos. Unfortunately, it can fade when left in sunlight for too long and smear when it gets wet.

Pigment Based Ink

These are made of resins (organic molecules that plants secrete) that are ground into small particles. Pigment-based ink sits on top of the paper instead of getting absorbed like dye inks, which gives the print less vibrant colors. However, it is fade-resistant and is also resistant to water. CatPrint uses pigment-based ink for all Large Format Poster printing.

Toner: For Laser and Digital Printers

Toner is most commonly used in laser printers and copy machines, which are usually found in busy environments like workgroups instead of just at home. They're required for fast, high-quality, high-production printing. CatPrint uses toner for all card stock and letter paper printing.

What's it made of?

Toner is typically made of electrically charged dry carbon powder that is contained inside plastic cartridges. These powders can be based with carbon or based with organic dry granules with polymers.

When printing, the toner sticks to the paper through a heating process where the toner melts and binds to the paper's fibers, which makes it hard to smear, making it usually a higher quality than inkjet prints.

Toner vs. Ink: Which is best for you?

If you have yet to place an order with CatPrint, you should do so today! One of the special things about CatPrint is you can place your order and receive a free hard copy proof to see what your print will look like before your entire order is printed. This will help you determine if toner or ink works best for your project! Learn more about our proofing options here.

Questions? Contact the experts.

Contact our Customer Service Team at with any questions.

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