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OEM vs. Compatible vs. Refilled what is the Real Difference?

Being manufactures of compatible toner cartridges we often get asked the question what the difference is between OEM, compatible and refilled. Well, besides the obvious the price, there is not a lot of differences between the OEM and compatible.

But first, some things you need to know about toner cartridges:
What is a Toner cartridge? (also called laser toner) It is the consumable component of a laser printer. Which contains the material (toner) used to produce the image onto the paper.

What is Laser Toner? Unlike ink, toner is a dry powdery substance. During the laser printing process, the toner is electrically charged (static) so that it is attracted to the printer drum. (kind of like a balloon rubbed against your hair than placed against a wall) The toner is then transferred to the paper. The fuser is responsible for melting the laser toner to create the permanent image on the paper.

What is Page Yield? The number of pages your toner cartridge should print based on 5% coverage per page (approximately one paragraph).

OK, so you just purchased your new printer, and after setting it up and finally printing out all of the things, you have been waiting to print. You find that the cartridges that you received with your new printer are already out of toner. This is because you received a "Starter cartridge" they are very low yield cartridges. This means that they are filled with only a small amount of toner. You look up the price of a new OEM cartridge only to find that it cost about the same price as the printer you just purchased. After the shock, you decided to look for other options.

The first thing you need to look at is the page yield. What is the page yield? It is the number of pages that the toner cartridge should print at 5% coverage, (about one paragraph) with all of your printers settings set a normal.

The OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture). Many manufacturers of laser printers recommend only using OEM laser toner cartridges with their printers to achieve the best results. However, they are also trying to get you to buy their product. OEM toner cartridges are generally the most expensive, and there usually is not a big difference in quality between an OEM cartridge and a quality compatible or remanufactured toner cartridge. In a lot of cases the OEM companies are now manufacturing their cartridges using parts that are recycled, yet you are still paying for all newly manufactured parts. If any manufacture tells you that using a compatible or remanufactured cartridge will void your warranty, they are breaking the law. Even using a refilled cartridge will not void your warranty (but we don't recommend using refills).

The Compatible these are the so-called “generic” cartridges. They are usually built using parts that have been recycled from old cartridges. If these are purchased from a company that has been in the business for a while and has a good reputation, you will get the same or better quality than that of the OEM. When an empty cartridge is returned they are taken apart and cleaned, all of the old seals are removed, the wipers, drum and rollers are removed and sent to be cleaned recharged, and made sure that there are no scratched or davits. They are than reassembled and tested before being put back into circulation. These cartridges will cost you about 40 to 60 percent less than using an OEM, they are usually guaranteed for a year where as the OEM are only guaranteed for 30 to 60 days from date of purchase. Compatibles are also very "Green" or environmentally friendly. They save about a qrt of oil per cartridges, and tons of wasted from being placed into land fills each year.

The Refilled Cartridges they are just that, cartridges that have toner only added to them. This means that holes are drilled into the side of the cartridge and new toner is added than the hole are sealed up using a plug. They are than returned to you to use. The problems with these are that the drums are not as charged as they once were and the seals maybe old and begin to leak. The rollers also may contain scratches, dents and davits in them. Because the wipers are not removed and cleaned or replaced you may start see lines or ghosting on your printout.

For price, quality and your satisfaction your best bet is to purchase a compatible or re-manufactured toner cartridges. But do it from a company that has been in the remanufacturing business for a while, has at least a one year guarantee, and who offers to repair or replace your printer if one of their cartridges causes damage to your printer. While the chances of the toner cartridge breaking you printer is close to none, you want to know that you have that reassurance.

If you have any questions about using any of these cartridges please feel free to give us a call, and we will answer any questions you have.

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About the Author

Sue Bye, Five Point Data Systems
106 North 7th Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
215-453-6640 / 800-360-3282

Contact Author: request info

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