Inks have been made from all sorts of materials over the course of generations, including the blood of certain types of animals and animal secretions. Today, modern printers use ink known as toner that is essentially a powder. Over the years, the materials used to create printer toner have become more sophisticated and have integrated a broader range of minerals.
The Composition of Toner
The printer toner is effectively plastic. This characteristic allows for the toner to be moved around using static electricity. The advantage of a static charge is that particles that receive an electric charge will cling to objects that have an opposite charge, such as a piece of paper. The plastic can then be melted to color the sheet of paper to create the printed text.
How Toner is Made
There was a time when toner would be ground into dust. However, this would lead to particles that weren't uniform. Therefore, modern toners are instead grown in a laboratory so that they'll be the right size.
In the printer, a metering blade gives the toner its static charge. This is referred to as triboelectrification. The cling results from electrons transferring from one object to another.
A hot fuser roll melts and flattens the toner ink. Fortunately, toner ink is designed to melt easily. Because the toner is in powder form, it is less of a mess than if it were in liquid form. When in liquid form, it can easily stain your clothing.
The plastic is milled from superfine powder. While there are many polymers that can be used for printer toner, polyester is the most common polymer that is used. While it is more expensive, it also produces brighter colors, is less toxic and smells better. It also has a lower melting point, which makes it less expensive because the hot fuser rolls do not have to be as hot to melt the toner.
Polymers Used to Create Toner
Polyester by itself is not enough because this material is clear. Therefore, to make it black, the toner manufacturers add carbon black. This is used by burning tar and is the main reason why tires are black. While it is a carcinogen, it is not a risk when the plastic hardens after melting on your paper. The carbon black is dark because it absorbs a lot of electrons and does not reflect them back to your eyes.