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 or greater. To improve image resolution, particle size was reduced, eventually reaching about 8–10 micrometers for 600 dots per inch resolution. Further reductions in particle size producing further improvements in resolution are being developed through the application of new technologies such as Emulsion-Aggregation. 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. 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.