A toner is a fine powder located in printer and copier cartridges. One peculiar property the product is their ability to act like liquids. Toner manufacturing equipment sees to it that the particle size is between 5 and 30 micrometers to flow through the cartridge.
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Key steps that occur in the toner manufacturing equipment
To manufacture toners, producers need to dispense synthetic resins, colour pigments, and metal oxides into the automated toner powder manufacturing machine. After that, they compound and extrude it on a cooling belt to chill. This stage is vital to produce discrete, free-flowing toners. Once it’s over, they pass the chilled-down sheet into a pre-crusher to break it down and inject the pre-crushed material into the jet mill to further reduce the particle size. It’s important to remove fine toner dust from the jet-milled toner as it can affect the quality of printing or photocopying. Finally, raw toner goes through a high-speed blender for additive coating. When they are ready, manufacturers fill them into tote bins or cartridges.
What to choose? Conventional toners versus chemical toners
Chemical toners’ producers claim that their product is more consistent, has a smaller particle size, and produces better image quality. However, conventional toners are still more popular than chemical toners because of the large installed base of machines that use conventional toners. New techniques enable producers of conventional toners to generate smaller and more consistent particles. This allows them to compete against their chemical counterpart.
Although the ingredients used for both types are the same, the process of manufacturing chemical toners requires less energy.
The impact of toner machining on health and the environment
Toners are not outrightly toxic, but they can cause genetic mutations. The use of toner manufacturing equipment generates nanoparticles that are capable of altering genetic patterns and metabolic processes. Carbon black, a major constituent of toners, belongs to Group 2B according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which means it is possibly carcinogenic. Carbon black effects are a major contributor to climate change as they affect plant health and modify rainfall patterns.
An effective measure against these concerns is to use biotoners. They use plant-based toner powders and, in addition, save up to 3 liters of crude oil. The emissions from their printing process are also safe.
Some markets may have their own specificities too. Germany, for instance, implemented the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (KrWG) of 2012 to foster circular economy and to establish rules for waste generation and management. Toners are included in the act as they need to be sorted and collected separately – so producers or holders of waste need to recover it.