Toners, Inks and Consumables (8)

What is CMYK?

CMYK is simply the range of colours in printer ink.

C = Cyan (the blue colour)

M = Magenta (the red colour)

Y = Yellow

K = Black (K stands for key as it is required to produce true black colour)



How much will a machine cost to run?

If the user buys the consumables for their printer, then it is impossible to know for sure which is cheapest, as it depends entirely on the amount of toner/cartridge coverage on the page – it can range from 1% to over 150% or more coverage.

The only way in which we can work out average running costs is through the ISO [International Organization for Standardization] toner/cartridge yields, which allows us to work out how much it costs to print a standard PDF document. From this information, we can then say that one machine is cheaper to run than another.

Should a customer need their print costs to be at a guaranteed price, then the only option in a Managed Print Service [MPS], which allows you to get a set cost per page printed.

Do consumables dry up?

Laser and LED printers use dry toner – they should last a lifetime, as long as they are kept at a normal room temperature.

Solid Ink should also last as long, provided it is kept inside its sealed wrapper.

Inkjet cartridges, on the other hand, have a shelf life due to the liquid ink deteriorating over time. Also, when they are opened, the heads tend to dry up if only used occasionally – frequent cleaning cycles may be necessary to prevent this, though that does use up a small amount of ink.

On some occasions, the Inkjet cartridge heads can dry up to the point where they cannot be cleaned and, therefore, require a replacement.

What is toner?

Toner is a powder that is superheated onto the paper to form text and images – it is used in laser printers.

What is Solid Ink?

Solid Ink is a patented colour print technology offered only by Xerox. Similar to a wax crayon, small solid blocks of non–toxic, no–mess ink are used, as opposed to traditional toner and inkjet cartridges.

Xerox Solid Ink printers melt blocks of the Solid Ink and lay them onto the page at print speeds close to that of Laser machines.

The Solid Ink blocks are easy–to–use and do not compromise on print quality.

What is a gel printer?

Gel printers are a patented technology owned by Ricoh – they use cartridges similar to Inkjet devices and print at a similar speed, too.

Ricoh have stated that, once the prints have dried, this technology is water and fade resistant.

What is GSM or g/m2?

GSM or g/m2 simply mean ‘grams per square metre’.

This relates to the weight of the paper and manufacturers will state the maximum weights their printers will accept.

What is the maximum GSM that laser printers will accept?

Most A4 office printers accept maximum weights of anything between 90gsm – 250gsm.

A3 office printers accept anything up to 350gsm.

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Printer Technology (12)

Should I choose Laser or Inkjet?

This decision depends on how you plan to use your printer.

Inkjets are designed for low-volume printing and tend to have a higher cost per page, although some business Inkjets are bucking this trend.

Laser machines are much more suited to high-volume printing and will give you much sharper images, however, if you want high-resolution photo prints, then Inkjet is the best choice by far.

Inkjet devices can wrinkle and saturate standard paper, so specialist Inkjet media is recommended for the best results.

Toner is waterproof and fade resistant, therefore Laser printers tends to produce a much more stable colourfast output.  Whereas, Inkjets can only replicate this with the more expensive pigment inks.

What is a wide format printer?

Wide format printers are simply Inkjets that are capable of printing on large-size media, such as A3, A2, A1 etc. – they are generally used to print large posters and banners.

What is a gel printer?

Gel printers are a patented technology owned by Ricoh – they use cartridges similar to Inkjet devices and print at a similar speed, too.

Ricoh have stated that, once the prints have dried, this technology is water and fade resistant.

What is a Dot Matrix?

Dot Matrix machines are impact printers that use a print-head and ribbon.

Ink is soaked into the ribbon and the print-head uses tiny pins to punch the ribbon, transferring the ink to the paper.

Most people use continuous paper that feeds through the machine and have carbon copies – the copies are produced by the print-head punching the paper.

What is dpi?

The term dpi simply means ‘dots per inch’ – this refers to the number of individual dots that the printer can produce.

Although dpi is often used by various manufacturers to promote the quality of their printers, it is important to bear in mind that the higher values are not always a true indication of better prints.

What is bit depth?

The term bit depth refers to the shades of colour each dot can represent.

For example, a printer with a low bit depth will have to separate the dots to simulate shading, which reduces the dpi.

Whereas, a printer with a high bit depth would be able to alter the shade of each dot without separating them – giving the printer a much higher dpi.

What is a RIP?

RIP is the Raster Image Processor, which is the internal or external software that processes the job and tells the printer where to put each dot.

What is the difference between a USB, parallel, serial and network printer?

USB, parallel, serial and network are all ways in which to connect your printer to a computer or network.

If your printer simply plugs into your computer, then a USB cable is normally used – although older parallel or serial connections are occasionally required.

However, if you plan to use your printer as part of an office or home network, in which several people need access to the machine, then the best choice is a network printer than connects directly to your router.

What is a WiFi printer?

A WiFi printer is a machine that can link itself to a wireless network.

What is a mono printer?

A mono printer is a machine that only prints in black and white.

What is a duplex printer?

A duplex printer allows users to automatically print on both sides of the paper.

When printing double-sided, the maximum paper weight accepted in the machine is usually much lower.

What is secure print?

Secure print is a feature that allows a user to print documents confidentially.

The user enters a password by going into the properties of the printer driver before sending the job to the machine.  Then, rather than printing automatically, the document will be stored on the printer until the same password is entered.

This feature usually requires a HDD [Hard Disk Drive].

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