Learn The Differences Between Genuine, Compatible and Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

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    Apr 23, 2013
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Learn The Differences Between Genuine, Compatible and Remanufactured Ink Cartridges Photo by Melissa Clark

There are four different ways to buy ink cartridges for a printer; one can purchase original cartridges from the manufacturer, buy generic compatible cartridges from other companies, purchase a remanufactured cartridge that has been recycled or have their original cartridges refilled. From price to quality, below is a look at the pros and cons associated with each type.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

When it comes to original products shipped directly from the manufacturer, the quality of the ink cartridge will be the highest of any other cartridge on the market but unfortunately, so will the price. Since these cartridges are made directly by the printer manufacturer, it means there should be zero risk associated with the purchase of OEM products. When big name brands such as HP and Epson build a product themself, it is expected the ink cartridges would be the best selection for top quality printing. This means, you shouldn’t need to worry about the ink running out prematurely, your cartridge wearing down, or a poor quality of ink printing. These products also come with warranty options.

Compatible Cartridges

Compatible cartridges are cartridges made by other manufacturing companies that work with printers from top brands. These compatible products can frequently be half the price of the OEM version, but you also run a slight risk of them not functioning as well. Think of it as buying a generic brand from a pharmacy. The pharmacy will sell the product for far less in price and claim it works equivalent to the name brand manufacturers, but customers will have to try it for themselves to create their own opinion. Similarly, compatible ink cartridges may be far less expensive, but there is also a chance an OEM product will perform better than the compatible version. With that said, for half the price, it may be worth it to try a compatible product. 

Remanufactured Cartridges

Remanufactured cartridges are another option that can save consumers even more money than they would pay for a compatible version. Essentially, a remanufactured cartridge is one that has been recycled, dismantled, cleaned and refilled with ink. While the products are not usually defined as significantly lower quality, the process of remanufacturing may put some wear and tear on the cartridge. A good manufacturer will test the product before selling it to ensure that it is as close to the original cartridge quality as possible. However, when a consumer makes the purchase whether in a store or online, they have no way of knowing the process it went through. Like compatible cartridges, remanufactured cartridges do come with some form of risk, but they are definite money-saver tactics, especially if you go through ink or toner quickly. 

Refilled Cartridges

The least expensive option of purchasing ink is using a refilled cartridge. This is when an old cartridge is simply injected with new ink and resold or when a consumer takes their original cartridges into a store to have them refilled. While it does cut back on costs, cartridges do eventually get worn down so to the point where they will no longer function at all. Refilled cartridges have the shortest shelf-life and can often stop working before the consumer has used all of the ink they paid for. Worn down ink cartridges can also change the quality of printed documents drastically. A reliable ink and toner reseller will most likely not sell refilled cartridges as the quality is so low.

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