Why Is Toner So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)

Man puts toner in the printer


Printers are an important accessory for offices all over the world.

They are also the most important machinery for businesses involved in designing.

Toner is the ink that makes printing on paper possible.

If you see faded colors on your printed page, it is due to the lack of toner in the printer.

Toner is only ink, but why is it so expensive?


Why Is Toner So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)

printer in office


Toner is expensive due to the quality of the toner, brand value, and high production cost.

Depending on your printer, the toner can cost from somewhere around $20 to hundreds of dollars.

At the end of the day, you will have to replace the toner, but it is best to get the most out of the toner you have already put in.

There can be a lot of justified factors that add to the high cost of toner.

This is why we are going to look at 10 reasons toner is so expensive.


1. Research And Development

young account managers crew working with new startup project


A high cost of research and development goes into manufacturing toner.

There is cutthroat competition in the tech industry, and companies try their best to outdo their competitors by introducing new and innovative products.

Toners are no different.

Over the years, companies have been investing a lot of money in R&D in order to come up with a product that is better than their competitor’s product.

Hewlett Packard (HP) is one of the largest manufacturers of printers and related accessories.

Their yearly research and development budget is around $1.907 Billion.

In 2010, representatives from Hewlett Packard stated that their yearly expense on research and development was over $ 1 billion.

This shows that companies have been regularly spending big bucks on research and development so that they can come up with new and improved products for their clients.

As you can see from HP’s statistics, research and development do not come at a cheap price.

This high R&D cost eventually affects the end price of the toner.


2. Price Of The Printers

Bussiness man Hand press button on panel of printer


Believe it or not but many printer companies sell their printers at a loss.

The low prices tempt the clients to buy the printer.

This is just a technique that some printing companies use.

Once you purchase their printer at a low price, you have to then regularly buy toners from them, which can cost a lot.

The toners are designed in a unique way that only the respective company’s printer cartridge can work in it.

Consumers are compelled to buy it from the same company.

If you use a printer on a daily basis, then you would know that after a few weeks, your printouts may start to fade.

This is because the toner is at a low amount, and you will have to purchase more.

This is why printing companies keep a high price for their toners.

They earn a lot of profit this way and also cover the cost they endured by selling the printer at a loss.


3. Quality Of The Toner

Man replacing toner in laser printer.


The printer toner is ink in powder form.

This is why people get surprised when they hear how much it costs.

Most people can’t understand why something like ink can be so expensive.

It is a common perception that high cost translates to high quality.

This may not always be the case, but there is some truth to this.

Companies invest a lot of money in their products to make them better for the customers, and therefore they charge extra for the amount of money spent on making that product.

We already mentioned that the cost of toner could range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.

One reason for that is the quality of the toner.

Better quality toners result in better printouts.

You might have experienced that sometimes when the paper comes out of the printer, the ink is wet, which can ruin the entire document.

High-quality toners dry out quickly and have a good dark shade.

For everyday printing such as for printing recipes or contact lists, you don’t need a high-quality printer.

However, if you want to print out documents for an important interview or an appointment, then it is best to use a printer with high-quality toner.

The quality of the toner is important but good quality does not come cheap.


4. Brand 

Hewlett-Packard inkjet printer CMYK ink cartridges inside printers slot.


This one is as straightforward as it can get.

Over the years, companies have developed a strong brand image because of their quality, customer service, and other aspects of their business.

A good brand image adds credibility to the products and services.

People trust the brand more if it has a good reputation in the market.

This allows the brands to charge more for your products.

This is why printer toners from well-established companies usually sell at a higher price compared to other brands in the market.


5. Inflation

Person Hand Showing Inflation Concept With Dollar Chart And Hourglass Drawn On Blackboard


We are living in one of the most unpredictable times of human history.

The 21st century has been a roller coaster ride.

Many life-altering global events have happened such as wars, terrorism, the 2008 global market crash, the supply chain crisis, and most recently, the pandemic.

All of these events have had a very negative effect on the global economy.

Yes, there are certain industries like the information technology sector that have, in fact, seen an unquestionable boom during this time, but we can’t deny the fact that global inflation is increasing.

Even economies as strong as the United States are feeling the brunt of it.

It is not any secret that inflation causes a hike in the price of everyday goods.

When the supply is low, the demand increases, and this eventually increases the retail price of the product.

The same is the case with printer toner.

When there is high inflation, companies have to sell at a higher price because one small price hike in their supply chain triggers a trickle-down effect which makes everything expensive throughout the supply chain.


6. A Necessity

 Employee using modern printer in office, closeup


In this modern world where individuals and businesses are trying their best to create a paper-free green environment, you just can’t deny the fact that conserving paper is important in today’s time.

If we have to save trees, we need to stop making and using paper.

However, it is not easy to completely get rid of paper.

Paper has become more of a necessity in today’s time.

In 2020, when businesses were in lockdown due to the pandemic, around 2.8 trillion pages were printed.

All the important contracts are signed through paper forms.

Keeping a trail of documentation is crucial to companies.

You can easily understand the significance of printers and toners with this unbelievable statistic.

This showed that printers aren’t just used in offices but also for other businesses, including newspaper publications, books, designing, and many other businesses.

These businesses cannot operate without toners and printers as a whole.

As long as there are businesses that need printers, there will always be a demand for toners.

A newspaper publisher or a book publisher cannot run their business efficiently if they don’t have a constant supply of toner.

This gives the printing companies a very lucrative opportunity to charge as much as they want.


7. High Production Cost

Printer in cartridges


Some products just have a high production cost, and printer toners are one such product.

A special type of research and machinery is used to make these toners.

Running those machines and paying for research all add up to the final price of the toner.

Technology is advancing quickly, and companies are trying to keep up with modern changes.

With the introduction of a new piece of information in the market about the production of toners, printing companies have to adopt and implement the changes.

Otherwise, they will be left behind in the market.

All this machinery acquisition and updating technology cost a lot of money.

One of the reasons that generic toners cost less is that they are relatively mass-produced as compared to branded toners, and they don’t have to be in any specialized brand packaging.


8. Waste

Woman puts toner in the printer


The number of times you purchase a new toner cartridge can also increase your overall cost.

For example, if you have a high-quality and durable printer, you may be able to use the toner in a better way.

However, there are many printers where a lot of the toner goes to waste.

This happens either due to the poor quality of the printer or the toner.

Some printers also use the toner for the maintenance of the print head.

This helps the print head, but it also results in a lot of wasted toner.

Thus, you have to get a new toner cartridge earlier than you may have expected.


9. The Import Cost

Freight business import export


Generic printer toners are produced all over the world.

However, some countries do a better job than others at production.

Japan, China, France, and the US are some of the best producers of high-quality printer toner.

Generic toners produced locally can also suffice, but if you are focused on a quality outcome, then you might have to purchase high-quality toner that is manufactured in other countries.

Due to the customs duties, imported products are sold at a higher price.

Depending on the country you are in, you might have to pay more for the brand of toner your wish to purchase.


10. Limited Alternatives


There aren’t many alternatives to using toner.

There are other types of printers and equipment that you can use, but the toner will always be an essential component of any type of printing.

The demand is always high, and with branded printers only allowing their own cartridge to be used in their printers, they have a sort of monopoly on the price factor.

This leaves you no other choice but to buy the toner at the price the company is offering, or you can purchase a new printer from a different brand (who would most probably do the same thing as your current printer brand).


Are Expensive Toners Worth Purchasing?

Man changes the printer cartridge in the office


As previously mentioned, certain brands only allow their own toner cartridges to be used in their printers.

If you have found a generic toner that is cheaper and works with your printer, then you should try to use it and compare the results with the original (branded) toner.

Generic toners may be cheaper than branded toners, but they can also yield great results.

However, when comparing branded toners and generic toners, you should definitely go with branded toners.

Generic toners might be great, but compared to the branded toners, their result isn’t that exceptional.

If you are really focused on the quality of your printout, buying expensive toner is totally worth it.


How To Save Money On Your Printer Toner?

young female technician repairing digital printer


Printer toner is expensive, and we have mentioned some justifiable reasons above.

This does not mean that you have to break your budget trying to buy high-quality toners.

There are always alternatives that you can opt for.

Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks that can help you save money on your printer toner.


1. Shake Your Toner And Use It Again

You might be getting a message on your printer that your printer is out of toner.

In such a scenario, you should take out the toner cartridge and give it a good shake and then place it back in the printer.

Sometimes there is residue toner stuck on the inner sides of the cartridge.

Once you place the toner back in the printer, the error will most probably go away, and you will be able to print a few more pages.

Repeat the process until you are sure that the toner is finally out.

When you pay so much for a product, it’s best to use every last bit so that nothing goes to waste.


2. To Go Paperless As Much As You Can

One way to reduce the overall toner cost is by shifting to a more paperless environment.

For example, instead of sending hard copies of memos, you can encourage your employees to communicate and send memos through email.

Arrange a meeting with your top management and introduce ideas about how you can save a lot of money if your entire company goes paperless.

Highlight areas where you can perform without the use of papers and then strictly implement new paperless practices in your office.


3. Buy Refillable Cartridges

Some printer companies only offer toners that have to be replaced once they are finished.

This is just another way for them to make people buy more toner cartridges to earn more money.

Other companies think about their customers and offer refillable toner cartridges.

Refilling a cartridge may be a hassle, and you may get some toner on your clothes, but it is the more sensible and cost-effective option.

Therefore, one way for you to reduce your toner cost would be to buy printers that allow refillable toner cartridges.

Every time your toner ends, you can refill it instead of spending a large sum of money on buying a new toner cartridge.


4. Keep Track Of Your Toner Usage

If you are running a business, then you would have to spend a large amount of money on toners.

When it comes to cost-saving, this is one area you should definitely focus on.

Keep track of your toner usage, and see how many cartridges of toner your office uses every month.

At the end of the month, if you used more toner than the previous months, then you need to evaluate if there was a need for extra printing this month.

If not, then you can be sure that the toner was wasted or casually used.

You can then use this information to set rules that allow for minimal and (only essential) use of printers.


5. Store Your Extra Toners Carefully

What’s worse than your toner being wasted and casually used?

Your extra toner is getting damaged in the storage room before you even have the chance to use it.

It is very important for you to store your extra toners carefully.

Otherwise, their quality will go down.

Depending on the temperature in the storage room, the toner may also start to form clumps.

Make sure that your toners are being stored properly and tell the storage in charge to regularly check the toners to see if they are not damaged.

Be responsible with your usage and try to put in some extra care for your toners.


6. Use Fonts That Use Less Toner

Try to encourage everyone at your office to use Times New Roman.

Fonts like Times New Roman use less ink as compared to other thick fonts like Arial, which use more ink even if they aren’t bold.

This may be a small thing, but once you implement this practice companywide, you will see a reasonable decrease in the overall printing costs in your company.



Toner is an expensive commodity in the printing world.

Some of the reasons toner is expensive are the brand factor, inflation, and the money spent on research and development.

There are cheaper alternatives in the market, but for your printing needs, it is always better to opt for quality, even if you have to pay a little extra for it.

It is also important to pay attention to your usage.

Try to go paper-free.

Using fonts that don’t take up too much ink is also a good idea to conserve your toner.

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