Millions of people use black ink and toner cartridges every day without fully understanding what they are, how they make both black and grayscale images or how much less they could be paying for them. Black toner is really just a special kind of dust sealed inside a container. In the early days of laser toner usage, this dust was simply carbon powder, often refilled from a canister kept at the copier or printer. When the carbon was heated, it fused to the paper in a specified pattern.
Today, the carbon is mixed with a polymer that makes it adhere better to the paper. The mixture is sealed inside a cartridge to keep the mess contained and office air clean. Each black toner catridge contains only one kind of powder even though it sometimes looks like the cartridge is able to also print in varying shades of gray. Lighter colors printed from black ink are called grayscale, and they result from putting less ink on the page. This is done by printing a series of black dots interspersed with empty space. The human eye combines the dots with the space to make a fainter image. The same method is used to print black-and-white newspaper pages.
While the composition of black toner and how it makes both black and grayscale images is interesting, here is something even more interesting: Most people pay too much for toner. The cartridges that contain the toner usually are not completely worn out once all the toner is used. Professionals can remanufacture them with new toner of similar quality to the original and offer these remanufactured black toner cartridges to buyers at a fraction of the new cost. Remanufactured black toner cartridges offer the same print quality as the originals and equivalent page counts. They offer everything that new cartridges offer except the high price.
Understanding what black toner is and how it works is not essential to using a printer or copier, but for many offices, saving money is. Using remanufactured black ink cartridges saves on the bottom line, even for people who do not fully understand them.