A toner cartridge is a container of ink that is inserted into a printer, allowing it to print. A compatible toner cartridge is one that is specially designed to work with a particular brand and model of printer. This includes cartridges made by the printer manufacturer as well as third-party cartridges, which are made by a separate party to fit with a given printer.
Each printer make and model has a compatible toner cartridge. Multiple models within a brand may utilize the same type of cartridge, but cartridges are rarely compatible across printer brands. Most manufacturers that produce laser and other types of printers also produce print cartridges. Most printers require two cartridges: one for black ink and one for color ink. Some printers require up to seven ink cartridges: one for black and one each for up to six colors.
Retail stores that sell printers usually sell the print cartridges that go with those printers as well. This can include electronic stores and mass merchandisers that have an electronic department. Cartridges are often available through online retailers and may be offered for purchase on manufacturer websites as well.
Manufacturer-made cartridges are not the only ones that fit in printers. Third-party manufacturers often specialize in producing ink cartridges that are compatible with the most popular printer makes and models. These cartridges usually are available in retail stores and can often be ordered online. In many cases, a compatible toner cartridge made by a third-party vendor is less expensive than one made by the printer manufacturer. Purchasers should, however, be sure to research quality and to investigate guarantees.
Some printer makes and models offer a compatible toner cartridge that is refillable. These cartridges can be taken to specialty retailers who have the equipment and inks to refill cartridges. This reduces the amount of waste generated by used cartridges and often saves money over time. Cartridges may have a limited number of times that they can be refilled, however.
There are a variety of toner cartridges that are recyclable as well. These toners can be re-manufactured or turned into other types of items at recycling facilities. Many retail locations that sell toner cartridges and printers offer recycling drop-off stations for cartridges.
In most cases, ink cartridges will not fit in a non-compatible printer. If a non-compatible cartridge does fit, the ink pads will not line up correctly, and documents will not print. In fact, using a non-compatible toner cartridge may damage both the cartridge and the printer.