Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Drum and Toner Cartridges

Drum vs Toner Cartridges

A drum cartridge and a toner cartridge are essential parts of a laser printer, a copy machine, and a fax machine. Since they are both cartridges, drum cartridges are often mistaken as toner cartridges, and the same happens to drum cartridges. Most often, people who are not familiar with these parts are often confused when a replacement is necessary for one or both parts.

The main difference is the function of the two cartridges. Drum cartridges are a mechanism designed to be a revolving drum that actually transfer the toner that comes out of the toner cartridges to the paper. It is the toner cartridges that store the toner powder which helps to print and make images and text on paper.

The drum cartridge is also known as a photoreceptor drum. Since they are parts of a printer or a machine, both items are replaceable and consumable. Compared to the toner cartridge, a drum cartridge is more costly. Often, a drum cartridge’s cost is three to four times the cost of a toner cartridge. In spite of the cost, a drum cartridge is more durable and long-lasting in comparison. In a printer’s usage, it can consume more toner cartridges before its drum cartridge is replaced.
Another difference is that toner cartridges are not photosensitive whereas a drum cartridge is. It is receptive to electrical current and charges. At the same time, the drum cartridge itself has an electrical charge in order to “mold” the designs into itself. The toner cartridge, which serves as container for the toner powder, has no purpose to have an electrical charge in itself or to be a recipient of an electrical charge.

Also, in the printing process, the drum cartridge usually works with a laser that triggers the electrical charge in the drum cartridge. The toner cartridge has no contact with the laser or any light to perform its function.
Toner cartridges are able to hold two types of toner – black and colored. The drum cartridges only draw the toner needed (depending on the printing instruction of the user) from the toner cartridge, regardless if it is black or colored, to be put and impress them onto the paper.

In cases of malfunction, it is recommended that a drum cartridge would be cleaned as part of its maintenance before being replaced by a new one. Cleaning the said cartridge would require taking the cartridge out of the machine and sending it to a service shop for computers or the user doing the work by following the instruction manual of the printer. For replacement, the instruction manual can also be helpful in indicating the model and make of the drum cleaner.
Regarding the toner cartridge, it needs to be replenished with toner powder rather than being cleaned.
Though there are stark differences in the functions between drum cartridges and toner cartridges, they work together in printing many images and texts that a user needs. Both parts are indispensable and often the first parts to be checked when the printer isn’t printing properly.


1.The drum cartridge performs the function of creating and impressing the designs (text and images) onto the paper. 2.The toner cartridges only discharge the toner powder.
3.The toner cartridge is more consumable, replaceable, and costs less compared to the drum cartridge.
4.The drum cartridge is the mechanism while the toner cartridge can be considered as a storage container for the toner.
5.The drum cartridge works by interacting with the laser light and its influence on the drum’s electrical charge, while the toner cartridge doesn’t need the laser light to perform its job as a container.

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