By Ryan Zilla
Most people probably don’t give much thought to what creates the words and images imprinted onto the paper emerging from a multi-function printer (MFP). We just know beautiful images and powerful words appear before our eyes within seconds.
It’s all due to toner, of course. But, just what is toner?
Unlike printer ink that’s liquid form, toner is a fine powdery substance stored in long black cartridges individually labeled CMYK: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. It seems amazing that just four colors produce vibrant prints with quality as high as a color photograph. (In case you’re curious, cyan is electric blue.)
4 Steps to Making Toner
Toner is essentially finely ground plastic pellets that are melted onto paper to create your desired outcome. But, it’s the science and technology in the production process that determines toner quality – not only to deliver vibrant results, but to help maintain the life of your MFP. Here’s how it works…
Toner production starts by blending four precisely weighed raw materials. Each has specific qualities to determine fusibility (melting point) and color. The lower the fusibility, the less energy used by the MFP, which means lower energy costs for the end-user.
After blending, toner material is kneaded to ensure raw materials are evenly dispersed before being ground to a specific particle size. Toner particle size is extremely small, measuring a mere 6.5 microns; by contrast a single human hair is about 70 microns – 10 times larger!
Fun Fact: Microns are a common measurement unit used when something is so small you can’t describe it in centimeters or even millimeters, 1 micron = 0.00003937 inches or 1 micron = 0.001 millimeters. Or another way to think of it, you could fit 25,400 microns in 1 inch. When we talk about 6.6 microns, we’re talking about the size of a single spider web thread.
Once ground, particles are classified. Those that don’t meet the specific measurements are collected and mixed in with a new set of raw materials, and the process above is repeated.
During the final step, toner is sifted through a very fine screen, to ensure consistency and remove any particles that could create lower reproduction quality.
Every single step of the toner production process, with accuracy down to the micron level, influences how the toner performs in the MFP and directly impacts print quality. And, it’s a clear reason why discerning customers agree that it’s best to use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) toner. OEMs not only tightly control the production process, but they also understand the MFP and can create the ideal end-user result.
Fun fact: Toshiba has three toner plants world wide, the largest is located in Mitchell South Dakota where nearly 2,000 tons of toner are manufactured annually. We’re dedicated to ensuring superior print quality for you, literally down to the micron level.