What is a Printer Cartridge?

A printer cartridge is generally anything that contains the consumable used to form an image on a substrate by some form of printing. The consumable can be anything from a block of solid wax (used in hot wax machines) to a pigmented dye (found in dye sublimation machines). Inks can even be functional fluids such as liquid solder for printed circuit boards. The two types of printer cartridges that most people are likely to encounter at home or in their work environment will be the ubiquitous inkjet machines or the toner units typically found in lasers and digital copiers.

What is the Difference Between an Inkjet and Laser Printer Cartridge?

An inkjet printer cartridge is designed for inkjet-type printers and is a relatively simple container holding a pigmented fluid usually with a viscosity similar to that of water. The fluid acts as a carrier for the pigment or colouring agent and is typically either absorbed by the substrate or evaporates off the substrate leaving the pigment behind.

The fluids most commonly used in these cartridges are water or some form of solvent. There are other fluids less commonly employed, such as latex and oil-based inks, but water and solvent predominate.

A laser unit is entirely different to its inkjet counterpart. Laser printer cartridges are complex mechanisms with gears and rollers and photo-sensitive drums and flaps and sealing strips as well as a receptacle or hopper for the toner. Toner is also not a liquid but a dry powder consisting of ultra-fine plastic particles mixed with coloured pigment. In this process, heat and pressure are used to melt the plastic particles onto the surface of the substrate being printed on.

Can You Only Buy from the Manufacturer of the Printer?

The manufacturer of a specific printer will make replacement units for their machine. These are referred to as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) units. There will, however, inevitably, be an equivalent compatible (also known as “generic”) unit made by a third-party manufacturer. This is the case for both inkjet and laser technologies. A generic unit is essentially a third-party copy of the OEM unit.

Which is Best?

There are good-quality compatible units on offer at a lower cost than the OEM product which can be perfectly serviceable replacements for the originals if bought from a reliable and reputable vendor like Cartridge Hyper. At Cartridge Hyper, we offer a wide range of both OEM and compatible units and our compatible units come with a guarantee. We also stock OEM units of all the leading printer manufacturers. If you need a printer cartridge, we will definitely be able to assist. Shop now or contact us for further assistance.


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