4 Printer Ink Types

If you have a computer—and who doesn’t these days—you have probably also considered buying a printer.  These can be a very smart investment for your home office as they are often multi-faceted and will definitely save you money over printing at a shop, over time.  Of course, you have to know not only which printer you need, but what types of these printers use and what purpose these types of ink serve.


Most people are familiar with liquid ink because that is the most common type of printer ink used today.  Whether you print only at work or print at home as well, the printer you use is probably an inkjet; and that means it has a liquid ink cartridge installed.  Inkjet printers are popular, of course, because they are the most versatile but also the most affordable.  Inkjet printers can handle jobs like essays and spreadsheets as well as photographs and newsletters with graphics.  With that, though, it is important to note there are two different types of liquid ink:

  • Dye-based liquid printer ink is more affordable but has a tendency to fade over time
  • Pigment-based liquid printer ink is more resistant to fading because it deposits small particles of color into the surface of the paper; but it does cost more


If you have a laser printer (or a newer LED printer), it will have a non-liquid ink installed.  Non-liquid ink is more commonly known as toner: a “dry” ink composed of different pigments.  Unlike pigment-based liquid ink, though, toner does not deposit the particles into the paper; instead a laser printer uses an intense beam of light (or, a laser) to charge a spinning 123ink brother drum that attracts the dry ink to the page.   The drum also uses heat to fuse the toner to the paper. This process is actually faster than the inkjet process but it also limits the types of jobs a laser jet printer can perform.


Solid ink is a term which refers to pigment-imbedded particles of wax that are similar to crayons.  This makes solid ink also somewhat similar to laserjet toner in that solid ink printers use heat to melt this wax compound in order to deposit them onto the paper.


Finally, traditional dot matrix printers use ribbon. This is a cartridge with a long fabric that is wound on wheels in a fashion similar to the way a typewriter works.