Drum vs. Toner vs. Ink, Oh My!

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How do you determine the difference between drum vs. toner in a printer? Low-quality printing happens to everyone, but figuring out the cause of the problem is more complicated than replacing the ink sometimes. Should you replace the drum? Isn’t that just a different type of ink cartridge? Learn about a printer drum vs. toner, and get the top questions answered about the parts people search for most frequently.

Which Part Do I Need?

Printer parts can be confusing when people use multiple terms for the same thing interchangeably and often incorrectly. Ink, toner, and drums are prime examples. An ink cartridge uses liquid ink laid down on the paper as it runs through the printer. A toner cartridge uses dry powder ink (called toner.) The printer heat sets the toner into the paper to create your images.

A printer drum is something else entirely. Inkjet printers don’t have drums. A drum is a metal cylinder that uses a static electrical charge to apply the toner from the cartridge onto the paper, fusing it to the surface. The drum and toner work together in conjunction.

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Changing Ink or Toner vs. Changing a Drum

Changing your ink or toner happens on a semi-regular basis, so you need to double-check you’re getting the correct cartridge for your printer. New OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridges are always the best, though they’re the most expensive. Third-party compatible cartridges seem like they save you money, but they can cause problems in your printer due to a lack of quality control.

Toner cartridges can be expensive, between $80 and $100 for your basic HP CE285A or HP CE505A cartridge. Because of this, people wonder if they can save money by using remanufactured or refilled cartridges. Remanufactured cartridges are repaired by the original company, refilled, and sealed properly. They are usually reliable if tested and certified by the original equipment manufacturer. Some toner cartridges can be refilled. Refills save money but are problematic. They often don’t have quality control and break down, jamming up your printer. Get more must-have tips about cartridges.

Printer Drum: Repair vs. Replace

Printer drums get dirty from regular use. When they get too dirty, they can mess up your product. Unfortunately, drums are expensive to replace. A Brother DR-730 toner drum unit, for example, can cost over $100, easily as much as a toner cartridge. The good news is that drum units can be replaced, unlike toner cartridges.

To clean your drum, unplug the printer and disassemble it. Lay newspaper on your work surface because toner will get everywhere. We recommend gloves, a mask, and eye protection. Set aside the toner cartridge and remove the drum according to your printer’s instructions.

Use an activated toner cloth to wipe down the loose toner. Next, clean the heavily soiled areas with a cotton ball saturated with 99% rubbing alcohol. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the rollers and a soft-bristled paintbrush to get into the crevices. Use a toner cloth for the inner walls and floor. Then reinstall the drum and give it a test! Here is a more in-depth guide to clean your printer’s drum.

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Getting a New Drum

If cleaning the drum doesn’t work, you may need a replacement. For tips and advice on the steps you can take to troubleshoot printing issues and for great prices on reliable replacement parts, contact Vegas Ink and Toner. Give us a call today: (702) 850-7703.

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