Your guide to buying remanufactured cartridges…
Where should you go to buy remanufactured ink or toner cartridges?
You may have seen and heard many printer suppliers offer their ‘own brand’ ink and toner cartridges as an alternative to the original manufacturers product. Maybe you’ve even considered buying remanufactured cartridges yourself?
The big question is, are they actually any good and are they worth the risk? Do they produce the same level of quality as cartridges built by the original manufacturer? We’re going to answer all your questions and more.
Here’s what you’ll learn on this page:
- What does Original, OEM, remanufactured, own brand and compatible mean?
- Should you take the risk and buy a compatible ink or toner cartridge?
- In truth, how reliable are compatible / remanufactured inks or toners?
- Will using a remanufactured cartridge void my printer warranty?
- Where can I buy wholesale compatible toner chips?
Before we begin, it’s useful to define some of the terminology that’ll be used in this post:
- Original/Original Manufacturers’ Product/OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)– this is a cartridge that is produced by the same manufacturer as your printer. So if your printer is a HP machine, this cartridge will be made by HP.
- Remanufactured/Own Brand/Compatible– these are remanufactured from previously used original ink and toner cartridges. The empty cartridges are sent back to a remanufacturing plant, where the cartridge housing is refurbished. Most of the internal components are replaced and the cartridge is refilled with new ink toner. They’re often sold under the retailers own brand label. They may also be referred to as compatible i.e. they’re compatible with your HP/Brother/Canon etc. printer. Lastly, compatible can be used to describe a third party toner cartridge where the whole product is brand new including toner / ink housing but was not made by the original printer manufacturer.
Remanufactured ink cartridges tend to be a lot cheaper than the OEM inks, however when an empty cartridge is recycled and remanufactured, most of the cartridge is reused, including any chips so depending on the age or how many times it has already been remade will greatly affect whether it will work or not when you come to use it. A reputable supplier will heavily test the chips to make sure there are no issues.
Remanufactured toner cartridges are a much more complex product and so you should always buy them from a trusted supplier. Some companies ship these products in from abroad with inferior replacement springs and gears which can cause them to fail quite easily. Alternatively a more reputable company will manufacture their compatible toners in the UK and replace any springs and damaged components with brand new parts, then fully test the new remanufactured toner. Always ask about the failure rate if you are unsure.
Some retailers may be so giddy about trying to promote their own brand cartridges to you that they make bold claims that are just completely unfounded so be careful!
Be on the look out for statements like this: “Our remanufactured toner cartridges exceed the OEM product.” Frankly, this is rubbish!
How can a remanufactured product exceed the quality of an original equivalent? Common sense dictates that the best cartridge you can buy will always be manufactured by the original printer manufacturer. Compatibles / remanufactured cartridges will always be an alternative low cost choice. Whilst most of the components are replaced during the recycling process, it’s still a recycled product and so it can’t be better than the OEM due to natural wear and tear!
Some models of remanufactured cartridges may hold more toner than the OEM and therefore print more pages, but this shouldn’t be a reason in itself to claim that it “exceeds the original”. In every other aspect of quality and performance, you cannot claim that the remanufactured item is better than the original.
So does this mean that remanufactured cartridges are not a viable alternative to the original product? Not at all!
Should you take the risk?
You might feel that buying remanufactured ink or toner is a big risk and that really depends on the quality of the cartridge that you purchase and what your printing requirements might be. It’s always best to think this through before you go ahead and take a gamble…
Let’s look at your printing requirements…
If you are considering buying a compatible ink or toner then think about what you will be printing and what result you would like. Below you’ll find some examples of printer usage. Have a look and see which one applies to you the most and whether a remanufactured/compatible cartridge will be up to the job.
Do you print in mono (black only)?
If you only print in mono, own brand ink and toner is very much a match for the original. Mono printing is less demanding, especially if you are only printing text on the page ad if what you’re printing out doesn’t need to be flawless then a compatible is a good choice.
Is your printer only used for internal communications?
If this is the case, then an own brand ink and toner would be perfect and a more cost effective option.
Do you print letters or documents for external communication purposes?
If you do, and these have blocks of colour such as a letterhead, or they contain some colour images, using a good quality own brand cartridge will give you good results providing that you purchase one from a reputable supplier with an acceptable guarantee of quality. Here’s where my Shameless plug comes in. We sell high quality compatibles with a full 3 year guarantee and a failure rate of less than 4%.
What if you print full colour documents, including flyers or brochures?
This is trickier. I certainly know of customers that print high quality documents using a remanufactured cartridge but I’d always recommend that you run a small trial before producing thousands of pages of output.
When it comes to the highest quality printing or where you are printing for commercial purposes, it’s a real challenge to match the consistency of colour output which you get from the original manufacturers’ product.
If you answered yes to most of these a lot of the time then you should have considered buying remanufactured cartridges a lot sooner!
In truth, how reliable are compatible / remanufactured printer cartridges?
Is the own brand product as reliable as the original manufacturer’s product?
The short answer is no. But it would be wrong not to qualify with some tangibles.
In my experience, the failure rate of original ink and toner cartridges is less than 0.5% (one cartridge in 200). The failure rate for a high quality remanufactured cartridge is likely to be 1% on black cartridges and 3% on colour cartridges (two cartridges in 200 and six cartridges in 200 respectively).
If you took the harsh view, you can see that the failure rate of a remanufactured colour cartridge is six times worse than the original. However, I’d suggest fairer analysis is that for every 200 colour cartridges you buy, you will get five more product failures when you choose remanufactured. Based on the average person’s’ usage, this is likely to be one failed cartridge every five years or so. When put this way, it doesn’t seem too high, does it? Odds are that you may never have any trouble with a remanufactured cartridge.
(Note: The failure rate of our own brand compatible cartridges here at TonerGiant is currently just 0.5%).
Will using remanufactured or compatible cartridges void my printer warranty?
This is definitely one of the biggest questions about compatible/remanufactured cartridges we get asked.
NO, they won’t invalidate your printer warranty! In fact, it is against the law for any manufacturer to claim this. As we covered in our post that discussed some of the myths surrounding compatible cartridges, The Competition Act of 1998 outlines clear guidelines around the monopoly of consumer goods. Laws are passed to protect you, the consumer, and to give you free choice. If printer manufacturers were allowed to make this claim, it would mean that free choice would be taken away.
To ensure that you’re purchasing a cartridge that won’t cause damage to your printer, buy them from a reputable supplier that sells them with guarantees and warranties. Some may go even further to give you peace of mind and offer to cover all the repair or replacement costs of your printer on the rare occasion something might go wrong!
Where can I buy Wholesale toner chips?
If you’re looking for wholesale toner cartridge chips for Samsung, HP, Oki, Lexmark or Xerox printers you may well be finding it very difficult. A search in Google will result in a lot of Chinese wholesale companies so I would advise looking around and checking on websites like AliExpress, or Alibaba. Wherever you look, be sure to check that the company is reputable or you may find yourself getting in trouble with patent laws. Our compatible toners are manufactured with and programmed together with the cartridge chips and so we don’t sell them individually.
One thing for sure is that a remanufactured, own brand cartridge will be significantly cheaper than its original counterpart. How much you save really depends on the printer that you are buying cartridges for, but it’s not unreasonable to expect to save 30% or more. That’s good enough reason to have considered buying remanufactured cartridges a lot sooner.
A word of warning
Whilst there are many companies that offer high grade remanufactured cartridges, there will be a few that sell inferior products. The best thing you can do is to check the quality of the warranty offered for the own brand cartridges before you buy.
Compatible/remanufactured/own brand ink and toner cartridges aren’t ‘better than’ their OEM counterparts. However, they do offer a high quality, cost effective alternative and, in most print applications, will do a great job for you.
The ever improving production techniques and better quality control at the leading remanufacturing plants is resulting in higher quality cartridges. And when they come with guarantees and warranties from reputable suppliers, you really have nothing to worry about! So have you considered buying remanufactured cartridges yet?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2011 and was updated in November 2016 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.