Staples | Frequently Asked Questions About Ink and Toner

Frequently Asked Questions About Ink and Toner

Looking for ink and toner tips? Take a look at these answers to frequently asked questions.

Staples ink and toner

Q: What is the Staples in–stock ink guarantee?

A: Staples carries more than 1200 varieties of toner cartridges, and we promise to have the toner you need. If we don't have it in–stock, then we'll send it to you quickly — with free delivery and $10 off. Alternatively, you can use that $10 towards a compatible or remanufactured toner cartridge. This guarantee applies to regular in–store selections, or as indicated in the catalog or Web site.

If the toner you need is out of stock, simply call 1–800–333–3330 and a customer service representative will take care of everything.

What is "OEM toner"? Is Staples toner just as good?

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. When a company such as Epson, Canon, HP, or Lexmark manufacturers toner cartridges for their printers, for instance, those cartridges are OEM.

Provided the Staples cartridge you choose is compatible with your printer, fax machine, copier, etc., it will be just as productive, durable, and efficient as an OEM toner cartridge.

Remanufactured cartridges

Q: What is a remanufactured cartridge?

A: It's a recycled and refilled cartridge that is tested to insure that it provides the same performance (based on cartridge yield) as a new, non–recycled cartridge. In some cases, a remanufactured cartridge's yield is up to 5% higher.

A used cartridge that is going to be remanufactured is first disassembled and inspected for wear. Parts that are damaged or worn are replaced, and other components are cleaned and reconditioned. The cartridge is then reassembled, filled, and tested for proper performance. Ultimately, remanufactured cartridges are better for the environment — and they're generally between 10% and 20% less expensive than a brand new cartridge.

Are remanufactured cartridges the same as refurbished cartridges?

No. Refurbished cartridges are formerly defective cartridges that have been repaired, rehabilitated, checked and then sent back into service. Remanufactured cartridges worked without malfunction during their previous use. They simply ran out of toner or ink.

Recycling ink and toner

Q: How can I recycle my ink and toner cartridges?

A: You can recycle them at your nearest Staples store. Look for an ink and toner bin near where ink and toner is sold. The bin will have two openings, one for ink cartridges and one for toner, and will have a large recycling symbol on the front. There will likely be a sign above the bin that reads: "Recycle your ink and toner cartridges here."

If you have trouble finding the bin, just ask a store associate.

Differences among inks and cartridges

Q: What's the difference between the inks used by lasers and inkjets?

A: Laser toner is a dry, powdered ink while inkjet — and bubble–jet, a kind of inkjet used by Canon printers — inks are liquid.

Laser printers (as well as laser multifunction machines, laser copiers, and laser fax machines) work by fusing toner to paper using heat. The printed results of lasers are smudge–proof and waterproof.

Inkjet printers (as well as inkjet multifunction machines, inkjet copiers, photo printers, and inkjet fax machines) spray tiny droplets of liquid ink onto paper. There have been great strides of late in inkjet printing technology that have made them much more resistant to smudging and smearing. Click here to read more about the differences in per–page costs and printing speeds between inkjets and lasers.

A difference that only generally applies to inkjets and lasers is that inkjet machines are capable of printing both in black and white and in color. Most laser machines can only print in black and white, but now there are an increasing number of affordable color laser printers that print both in black and white and in color. Click here to read more about color laser printers.

What's the difference among the cartridges used by multifunction machines, copiers, and faxes?

Multifunction machines and copiers produce their prints and copies using either inkjet or laser technology, so the cartridges they use are very similar to those used by inkjet and laser printers.

The same is true of inkjet and laser fax machines. Thermal fax machines, however, use cartridges that contain a film ribbon, which the fax machine heats to imprint (not fuse) text and images onto plain paper. (Note: Thermal fax machines now sold at Staples print on plain paper. They do not require special thermal printing paper.)


Q: How long can I expect my cartridge to last?

A: This will differ significantly from machine to machine, whether it's a printer, copier, fax, or a multifunction. To get an estimate, look for cartridge yield on the Web page (or product specification box) of the cartridge you need. The reason why cartridge yield is hard to pin down is that each printed page varies in the amount of ink it actually uses.

The cartridge yield of laser toner (and of inkjets when printing in black and white) is based on "5% coverage". This means that if all of the words and printed material on the page were blended into one blot it would cover 5% of the page with ink. Though this doesn't sound like much, a 5% page coverage is typical for a full–page document of printed text. When you print a page with shaded tables or graphs, however, page coverage goes up — and page yield goes down. Color inkjet cartridge yields are based on 15% of the page being covered by ink, largely because color prints are usually comprised of more images than text.

An instance in which cartridge yield is very easy to estimate is when the machine in question is a thermal fax machine. Thermal fax cartridges have a yield that, while varying from machine to machine, is fixed by the number of letter–size (8.5"x11") pages it prints. For instance, a thermal fax machine cartridge that has a 440–page yield will print 440 letter–size pages — whether those pages are full of text or contain only a few sentences per page.

Will cartridges and toner last for years and years if I don't print many pages and sometimes go a few months without using my printer at all?

Since laser toner is dry, it lasts until it is entirely used for printing. It won't evaporate or disappear, even if you don't use it for several months. Inkjet cartridges, on the other hand, have a "life span" that is independent of the number of pages it prints. Liquid ink will eventually dry out once the seal has been broken and the cartridge installed. Even if not exhausted by printing, the ink will typically dry out within two or five years, depending on the climate.

Fixes for common problems

Q: My inkjet cartridge doesn't fit, but I'm sure it's the right one for my machine. Any suggestions?

A: Inkjet cartridges frequently have a small, easily removable plastic tab that helps seal the ink reservoir during storage and shipping. See if this tab is still attached.

My printouts are getting streaky. Any suggestions?

If you're using an inkjet cartridge, you could have a small clog. As a remedy, remove the inkjet cartridge and use the edge of a just barely damp paper towel to dab at the cartridge printhead (e.g, the opening at the bottom of the cartridge where the toner is released).

If you're using a laser printer, remove the cartridge and gently rock it back and forth to mix the toner. If your laser printer is still producing streaky pages, it might be time to replace the toner or the drum. (Laser drums are expensive, but they usually last up to 15,000 or 20,000 prints.)

1*Guarantee applies to regular in–store selection or as indicated in the catalog or on the Web site. Offer limited to 1 per customer per day, nontransferable. No cash/credit back. Staples reserves the right to discontinue this program at any time without notice.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Deals! Get them now
Join us on: