Printer Supplies – New, Used, Or Refilled?

I am never pleased when one of my office printers runs dry. That means the toner cartridge, the inkjet cartridge, or something needs replacing. I have to choose between buying a remanufactured cartridge, saving a little money, or a new OEM cartridge, getting a bit more assurance about its performance. You know, maybe I’ll refill the old one. What is the right choice?

After my building lease and payroll, printing supplies seem to be right at the top of my business

expenses. It stands to reason that a frugal man would try to cut back costs by

cutting a corner here and there. Then again, some corners aren’t meant to be cut. 

OEM Parts, Remanufactured Cartridges, And Refills. What Are They?

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are the top of the line. I can’t say I’ve ever been unhappy with brand new toner or inkjet cartridges. I’ve been a bit poorer but never unhappy. New is good.

I’ve been fortunate never to have problems with new merchandise. However, there is a peace of mind that comes with knowing that I will have support services at my disposal and warranty protection if something goes wrong.

Remanufactured cartridges are a step down from new. The remanufacturer disassembles a cartridge, inspects the parts for any unusual signs of wear and tear, and reassembles another cartridge from serviceable parts. Just like new, right?

No. It isn’t like new because it isn’t new. However, you saved a few dollars, a few dollars for functional but a little worn part  If you pay attention to details and make sure the cartridge has a warranty covering any defects, this might be a way to go if you are money conscious.

At the bottom of the barrel, just above rummaging in a dumpster for cartridges that aren’t entirely empty, are refills.

The Good, The Bad, And The Messy.

Refills are not my short-list.I decided to investigate having a toner cartridge refilled. I took the cartridge to a shop advertising refills. I asked how they would accomplish the refill, and the customer service representative pointed to a spot on the cartridge and said, “We just drill a hole in the case right here and inject new toner.”

They drill a hole… I wouldn’t say I liked the sound of that. A friend had advised me that refill businesses work so inexpensively because the toner and ink they use are inferior. I gave them one last chance and asked about failure rates. Any money I might save was not worth the risk of damaging my printer and having to pay for a repair or a replacement. The song and dance I got was the third strike, and I was out of there. 

I tried to refill an inkjet cartridge myself once. Do you have any idea how long it takes ink to wear off of skin? Yes, it was a mess, but there are other reasons why refilling inkjet cartridges isn’t a wise choice.

Poor quality ink can build up on your printer head, and it can make an ink splotch or run on your copy. Sooner or later the inkjet ports are going to gum up and clog. That creates a mess of another proportion.

Bottom line: OEM or remanufactured toner or inkjet cartridges are the only way to go.

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