Find here the definitions of some key vocabulary items


To help you understand the language associated with printers and print cartridges, we have provided a glossary with definitions of commonly used terms.

Cartridge chip

Some toner and inkjet cartridges contain an electronic chip. This chip connects the printer and the cartridge. Chips can manage the cartridge’s ink level and provide information about the colour type and number of pages printed.


A compatible cartridge is a cartridge, which is made by a manufacturer other than the original printer manufacturer. Compatible cartridges can be manufactured using different processes, such as from new parts in compliance with the patents or from empty cartridges put back into circulation after being refilled and tested. The latter are called remanufactured cartridges.


Cyan refers to the blue colour used in printing. Together with yellow and magenta, they make up the three primary colours, which can be combined to make all colours used in printing.

Printer drum

The laser printer drum consists of a cylinder the surface of which is covered with a photosensitive semi-conductive layer and various protective layers, which retain the toner powder in the areas where the printer laser will pass. When passing, the laser produces an electrostatic charge, which attracts the powder to the drum. The piece of paper then passes the drum for the final printing.  


Firmware is a program, which is integrated into the computer device, so that it can work on its own or with other devices. Some printers have firmware to manage the cartridges associated with the printer. Some updates will be necessary to benefit from the latest software changes.


Foam can be found inside the cartridge to manage the ink flow onto the paper.


Ink is a heavily dyed liquid, which is used to mark paper, textile, or another surface. Ink is used for writing, drawing, printing and decoration.
Two types of ink are used. In dye-based inks, the dye is dissolved in water and solvents (“mint water”), and in pigment inks, tiny coloured particles are mixed with water and solvents.
Which ink should be used for which purpose?
Pigment inks sit on top of the paper providing better water resistance (e.g. highlighter pens) and UV protection (e.g. photos).
On the other hand, the ink yield of dye-based inks is brighter and less dull.


Magenta is the primary red.


The nozzles are located in the printhead and act like very fine needles to project ink onto the paper.


The Original Equipment Manufacturer. This refers to the original printer manufacturers, as well as the cartridge manufacturers.


A printhead is a component of the cartridge or printer. There are cartridges without printheads, called “disposable”, where the printer does the job instead. Fixed printheads are integrated into the printer. In both cases, the printhead sprays the amount of ink microdroplets necessary for printing. The ink is distributed via nozzles, which are located in the printhead and act like very fine needles to project the ink onto the paper.

Protective cover

The protective cover is a plastic attachment, which protects the cartridge printheads before use, especially during transport. It prevents leaks, keeps colours from mixing on the nozzle plate during storage, hermetically seals the cartridge and prevents evaporation.


Toner is a pigmented powder used for laser printing.

Toner powder

A powder used in cartridges for laser printing and photocopying. The powder, otherwise known as toner, is a dry ink composed of fine resin or plastic particles. This powder melts when exposed to heat and becomes a liquid ink which can be used to print by sticking to the paper.