Black toner container
Colored toner container

Toner is a powder mixture used in laser printers and photocopiers to form the printed text and images on the paper, in general through a toner cartridge. Mostly granulated plastic, early mixtures only added carbon powder and iron oxide, however mixtures have since been developed containing polypropylene, fumed silica, and various minerals for triboelectrification.[1] Toner using plant-derived plastic also exists as an alternative to petroleum plastic.[2] Toner particles are melted by the heat of the fuser, and are thus bonded to the paper.

In earlier photocopiers, this low-cost carbon toner was poured by the user from a bottle into a reservoir in the machine[citation needed]. Later copiers, and laser printers from the first 1984 Hewlett-Packard LaserJet,[3] feed directly from a sealed toner cartridge.

Laser toner cartridges for use in color copiers and printers come in sets of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), allowing a very large color gamut to be generated by mixing.

Composition, size and manufacture

The specific polymer used varies by manufacturer but can be a styrene acrylate copolymer, a polyester resin, a styrene butadiene copolymer, or a few other special polymers. Toner formulations vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from machine to machine. Typically formulation, granule size and melting point vary the most.

Originally, the particle size of toner averaged 14–16 micrometres[4] or greater. To improve image resolution, particle size was reduced, eventually reaching about 8–10 micrometers for 600 dots per inch resolution.[citation needed] Further reductions in particle size producing further improvements in resolution are being developed through the application of new technologies such as Emulsion-Aggregation.[5] Toner manufacturers maintain a quality control standard for particle size distribution in order to produce a powder suitable for use in their printers.

Toner has traditionally been made by compounding the ingredients and creating a slab which was broken or pelletized, then turned into a fine powder with a controlled particle size range by air jet milling. This process results in toner granules with varying sizes and aspherical shapes. To get a finer print, some companies are using a chemical process to grow toner particles from molecular reagents.[6] This results in more uniform size and shapes of toner particles. The smaller, uniform shapes permit more accurate colour reproduction and more efficient toner use.

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中文: 墨粉