Merits And Flaws Of Printer Cartridges

The variety of printing supplies available on the market makes us think twice before choosing the right cartridges.

You are an owner of a printer that has been serving you well for a while, and one day you discover you are out of inks. At first sight, it seems easy to remove empty cartridges and put in new ones, but the reality bites.

Your printer may actually use one or several cartridges (from one in monochrome laser printer to eight in professional color inkjet printer), generally two (black and color) or four separate color cartridges. Since inks or toners in cartridges are not consumed evenly, it is rarely that you have to replace the whole set of cartridges at once. Even if so, buying only four cartridges should not seem such a problem, however this is where the most interesting part begins.

Visit your local computer store and you will likely find out there are way too more cartridges for your printer, not just four as you might think. What are all these cartridges and how to choose the right ones, that’s the question.

To be sure you are making the right decision when choosing thes or those ink and toner cartridges, you should be well informed of what is what and who is who. For starters, you should know there are three types of cartridges: OEM, compatible and remanufactured. The thing to remember is that not every cartridge type is available for every printer model.

OEM cartridges

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridges (also known as original or genuine) are made by the manufacturer of the printer for which it is intended. For example, an HP OEM cartridges have been specifically created by HP for use in HP printer, copiers or faxes.

These are very much the same cartridges that you got with your printer. With them, you can be assured of producing prints with the same color and quality as you did with your original cartridges. Original manufacturers claim they have put a tremendous amount of time, knowledge and technology into OEM cartridges to deliver the best quality of print. This is on the one hand.

On the other hand, these very time, knowledge and technology justify, according to original manufacturers, the cost of the genuine cartridges. Yes, of all type of cartridge original are the most expensive. Sometimes it will cost you more to get a set of replacement cartridges than to buy a new printer.

Compatible cartridges

Compatible cartridges also referred to as “off-brand” or “generic”, are cartridges manufactured by a company other than the printer manufacturer. Compatible printer cartridges are brand new alternatives to the OEM or original cartridges. They are not simply identical copies of genuine cartridges produces by side manufacturer, and have different design to avoid violating any copyrights. However, compatible cartridges are still 100% compatible with whichever printer they were designed to fit.

There is another case for compatible cartridges. Some printer models of different brands are based of the same engine. For example, early model of HP LaserJet printers were build using an engine made by and utilized in machines of Canon. Thus, “unintentionally” some HP and Canon cartridges were compatible and could be used in place of one another.

Good thing about compatible cartridge is the price. You can save up to 50% and more on compatible cartridges over OEM. Besides, the compatible cartridges manufacturers promise, like, “their unique combination of components coupled with superior manufacturing processes and stringent quality control guidelines will provide superior print quality and guarantee to consistently meet and even exceed OEM performance”.

If they both cheap and good, why don’t everyone use compatible cartridges? The truth is, theoretical “superior print quality” in reality can vary from one manufacturer to another. Poorly sealed toner cartridge can spill printer toner or ink formulation can cause some minor and not-so-minor color differences. However, don’t think that all compatible cartridges are like that. The quality of work and part depends on actual manufacturer. Find the one you can trust.

Remanufactured cartridges

Remanufactured cartridges are typically created for printers such as HP, Lexmark, Epson, Okidata and some others printers that cannot use compatible cartridges for legal reasons. These brands make cartridges that are rather complex and contain all the printing technology inside the cartridge as opposed to it being contained within the printer.

This complex technology cannot be legally copied, so instead recycling companies collect the empty cartridges, strip them down, clean them out, refill them and then fully test them before sending the cartridges on to vendors. You can find out more on the remanufactured cartridges by reading about the truth and myths of remanufactured cartridges.

Like the compatibles, remanufactured cartridges are often cheaper than OEM cartridges. The savings is usually not as great because remanufactured cartridges cannot be inherently mass-produced. Nonetheless, a seasoned customer can easily find savings of 50% in some cases.

Quality of remanufactured cartridges also can vary from one re-manufacturer to another. Some simply “drill and fill”, literally. They make a hole in the cartridge, fill it with ink or toner, and cover the hole. However, a good toner re-manufacturer has a full quality control process for cleaning, filling, reassembling and testing.

Now that you’ve learned who is who in the world of cartridges, you can easily pick cartridges that are right for you.

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