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  • Writer's pictureLiam Boyle

Differences Between OEM, Re-manufactured, Compatible, And Refilled Ink Cartridges

Looking at the many cartridges and supplies available for your specific printer, you might feel a little overwhelmed. Besides finding just the right cartridge for your particular printer model, you also have to choose between many different types of cartridges. OEM? Re-manufactured? Sometimes it’s hard to know what makes one cartridge different from another. Here is a basic guide to the different types and kinds of printer cartridges, outlining the differences and benefits of OEM, re-manufactured, and compatible printer ink and toner cartridges.

New OEM Cartridges:

What is OEM ink?

You may have heard the term "OEM" used before, but what does OEM mean or stand for? OEM refers to “original equipment manufacturer.” In other words, if Brother made your printer, they've also made a cartridge to go with it. No doubt about it, these high quality cartridges were designed for great durability and undeniable precision. Naturally, that translates into good print quality, but all of that comes at a much higher price.

The obvious downside is the cost. Did you know that printers are often sold with small profit margins because OEMs know that they will make their largest profit from selling cartridges? For that reason alone, the name brand company that made your printer will claim that you may shorten the life of your printer by using generic cartridges. This is simply not true! OEMs charge exorbitant prices for their cartridges. One of the biggest controversies surrounding OEM cartridges is how much ink is left over in the cartridge when printer models shut down due to "low ink." Some cases have shown that 40% of the expensive ink you paid for is left over in that 'dead cartridge' you are about to replace! After all, it's common knowledge that brands don't make their money on their printer sales, but make huge profits on new and overpriced OEM cartridges instead.

Compatible Printer Ink

What are compatible cartridges? Compatible ink is like buying a generic car part. A separate company simply creates their own version of the cartridge to work in your printer just like the OEM cartridge. As you might expect, some compatibles are of an inferior quality, but there are plenty of compatible printer cartridges out there that hold their ground next to their OEM counterpart. That’s why it's so important to find a time tested provider that offers only high quality compatible ink cartridges.

What are Remanufactured Printer Ink Cartridges?

What does "re-manufactured" mean? Remanufactured cartridges started out as new OEM cartridges. Instead of throwing a perfectly usable and durable plastic shell away to sit in a landfill, however, another company refurbished it to be used again. A good remanufacturer will disassemble, clean, and test the cartridge before replacing any worn parts and refilling the toner. As long as the refurbishing process was thorough, these will often yield similar quality to an OEM cartridge. Unfortunately, some companies have branded their cartridges as "remanufactured" when all they did was simply drill a hole in the shell and refill it with toner. The biggest question for these cartridges always comes back to the quality of the remanufacturer’s work.

One other advantage of using this option is that it is more environmentally friendly. By definition, this process involves recycling old cartridges rather than adding more waste to the environment.

Refilled Printer Cartridges

As one of the cheapest options, refilled cartridges are simply injected with new ink/toner and resold. If the cartridge doesn’t work at all you should be able to return it, but you may also find that the cartridge stops working before the toner runs out. Once again, the risk may be worth it if the cartridge works well since these are priced far below OEM or remanufactured cartridges. Still, be aware that some refilled cartridges can be temperamental or even quit working altogether.

What Type of Ink Cartridge Is Best?

Like any other product, you can expect a wide range of quality and price for ink and toner cartridges. It is often worth experimenting with remanufactured or compatible cartridges, as you may discover a third party company that offers good ink cartridges at a much cheaper cost. Whatever your choice, it is always a good idea to recognise the advantages of each different type of ink cartridge before buying.

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