OEM vs. Compatible vs. Remanufactured Ink Cartridges: Which is Better?
If you’ve ever done ink shopping before, you’ve probably stumbled upon the words “OEM”, “remanufactured”, and “compatible”.
You may understand the shallow difference between the three, but if you really want to get to the bottom of it, this is the guide for you.
Even though it may seem like OEM is the best choice as it’s more reliable and superior to remanufactured or compatible cartridges, that’s not entirely true. Let’s see why.
Read More: Why Do Printer Cartridges Cost So Much?
OEM Cartridges (Genuine OEM or Original Cartridges)
An “OEM” (original equipment manufacturer product) is the cartridge made by a certain printer brand to be compatible with that brand.
Printer industries have followed the steps of razor industries when it comes to how they make their profit.
Selling you the original product at a temptingly low price, but then doubling their profit by selling you the required replacement equipment at a sky-high price.
This leads to the toner being more expensive than the printer itself, sometimes.
On the one hand, OEM ink and toner products set a standard of quality and performance. They're reliable, give you the best print work, and most importantly, they're designed to work perfectly with heir specific OEM printers.
On the other hand, however, they’re very overpriced. Moreover, they don’t always have XL cartridges available. And XL cartridges are a great way to save some money. And finally, they don't actually yield longer than remanufactured or compatible cartridges.
So, let’s talk about how remanufactured and compatible ones can match the print quality, page yield, and shelf life of OEM cartridges at just a fraction of the cost.
Simply put, remanufactured cartridges are ones that have been used, cleaned, and refilled.
This is through the office supply stores and online businesses that have an option of recycling the empty cartridges that you’ve used.
So a remanufactured cartridge is a recycled OEM one. The quality and the performance of the remanufactured cartridge could be as good as the original, depending on the business that you buy your cartridge from.
Every remanufacturing business should inspect their remanufactured cartridges for faults at every stage and add reliable new components such as chips, sponges, drum units and wiper blades.
If you finally find a good remanufactured cartridge brand, you’ll be able to save up to 70% on cartridges.
You’ll also be more environmentally friendly as remanufactured cartridges reduce the carbon footprint.
Moreover, remanufactured cartridges are filled to their full capacity, unlike the OEM ones.
However, you will be risking some things such as malfunctioning (if the remanufacturing business doesn’t guarantee its ink and toner), the print fading faster, and slightly less accurate colors.
Compatible or generic cartridges are ones that have been manufactured by a 3rd party.
While a remanufactured cartridge can be considered a recycled original cartridge, a compatible one is simply built from scratch.
They're referred to as generic as they have the quality, features, and characteristics of the original brand name cartridges, but they're made by a 3rd party manufacturer and sold at a lower price.
Just like remanufactured cartridges, compatible ones have to be tested and inspected carefully for any faults by the supplier.
And how well the compatible cartridge performs depends on the trustworthiness of the supplier.
If you go with compatible cartridges, you'll be cutting a lot of costs. However, they're a bit riskier than remanufactured cartridges –which already have a risk factor.
While some manufacturers build their compatible cartridges to meet the standard of OEM ones, others simply don’t do that.
Why Are Some Cartridges Remanufactured and Others Built To Be Compatible?
Due to licensing and patents. Some OEM brands have patents on their cartridges that prohibits 3rd party manufacturers from making compatible or generic versions.
That’s why 3rd parties provide compatible or generic ink and toner whenever they can, but sometimes they're simply unable to do so.
Would My Printer’s Warranty Be Voided If I Use Compatible or Remanufactured Printer Cartridges?
As long as there are no patents that prevent 3rd parties from making compatible ink and toner, the answer is no.
But that means you can still use remanufactured cartridges to keep your costs budget-friendly.
Even though there are a lot of claims that OEM products are made differently than remanufactured or compatible ones, that's not true.
Using a remanufactured or compatible cartridge doesn’t mean that your printheads will be clogged or that you’ll get inferior print work.
That’s why it’s a more economically-wise decision to go for the compatible and remanufactured cartridges.
They give you the same print quality (although they might fade a bit faster than OEM ink and toner), have the same page yield and shelf life, and allow you to save so much that you can buy 2 at the price of 1 OEM cartridge.