The 4 Types of Printer Ink

There are so many different types of printers out there, it can be daunting picking the right one. They all serve different purposes and best suit different types of environments: some are good for students while others are better suited for a large office while others still yet best suit a home office. To help you discern which might be best for you, lets take a look at the four different classifications of ink and the purposes they serve.


You are probably most familiar with this type of ink; after all, this is the most common type.  It is the most common, of course, as it is the type of ink found in the most popular printers:  the inkjet.  Basically, most people buy an inkjet as a home printer.  As such, liquid HP ink cartridges at provide you with excellent versatility; whether you want to print essays or photos or brochures.  That in mind, though, you should remember there are two different types of liquid ink, which serve different purposes:

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  • Pigment-based liquid printer ink deposits small particles of color onto the paper surface; it is more resistant to fading but costs more
  • Dye-based liquid printer ink is less expensive but is more likely to fade over time, especially with UV light exposure


Laser printers (and also the newer LED printers) use a non-liquid ink called toner. Also called a “dry” ink, toner is made of various pigments but it does not deposit the liquid onto the paper. Instead, laser printers use an intense beam of light (aka “laser”) to charge a spinning drum that actually attracts the toner to the page. Also, the drum uses heat to fuse the toner to the paper; a process which results in faster print jobs, though these printers are limited in the amount and quality of color they can print.


Solid ink refers to particles of pigment imbedded in wax, much like a crayon.  Similar to toner, solid ink printers use heat to melt the wax which then is deposited onto the paper. The ink is non-toxic but it leaves a significant texture on the page so it can be scraped off.


Finally, we have impact and dot matrix printers; these use a ribbon system for printing.  These involve a cartridge that have a long fabric wound on wheels, kind of like the way a typewriter ribbon works.

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