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Debunking OEM Ink/Toner Myths

Posted by Brian Pietrus on

woman splashed by ink

If you own a printer, you’ve probably heard or read some pretty scary justifications for exclusively buying original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cartridges. However, many of those statements are misleading, and some of the confusion comes from online forums rather than from anything actually published by the OEM brands themselves. In this week’s blog, we’ll pick apart some of the most common arguments against compatible and remanufactured replacement cartridges to shed some light on what you’re actually putting into your printer.

office printer

Using Off-Brand Cartridges Will Void Your Warranty – FALSE

One of the most common myths surrounding remanufactured and third-party cartridges is that if you use anything other than the OEM brand cartridge, you’ll void your printer’s manufacturer warranty. However, this simply isn’t true. Using a non-OEM cartridge or a refilled cartridge will not affect your warranty, and there is no legal ground for a printer manufacturer to allege otherwise – which is why OEM brands aren’t actually making this claim at all. This myth stems largely from misinformation spread on the internet. Many printer manufacturers do include a clause in their warranty which says that any printer damage incurred that results from using non-OEM cartridges will not be covered by the original warranty. However, there’s no reason to suspect that a compatible or remanufactured replacement cartridge even could damage your printer since they install and function the same way an OEM product would. Therefore, using compatible or remanufactured cartridges absolutely will not void any part of your device’s warranty.

Remanufactured replacement ink/toner cartridges are essentially refurbished OEM cartridges. They’re inspected to make sure there is nothing wrong with the cartridge shell, then each cartridge undergoes a thorough factory cleaning in a controlled, dust-free environment. The cartridge shells are then refitted with new parts that help the cartridge function properly. The extent of parts replacement will vary from one brand to another, and there will be additional differences in how an ink cartridge is remanufactured compared to a toner cartridge. However, as a general rule, remanufactured cartridges usually have some or all of the following parts replaced:

  • Toner cartridge: drum, springs, wiper blades, and microchip.
  • Ink cartridge: sponge, sealant (to prevent ink from leaking), and microchip.

Because remanufactured cartridges are built using recycled OEM shells, they will fit perfectly into your printer. A compatible replacement cartridge is slightly different; it’s essentially a generic version of the name brand cartridge. Our compatible cartridges are remanufactured from scratch using all new components, and the cartridge itself is designed to fit like an OEM product inside your printer and perform the same way. Again, just to summarize, there is no way that installing a compatible or remanufactured cartridge in your printer could possibly cause damage to the printer. You can use compatible and remanufactured replacement ink/toner without risk of voiding your warranty.

ink cartridges inside a Brother printer

Off-Brand Cartridges Will Clog Your Printheads – FALSE

This is another myth that is often spread through online forums. While compatible or remanufactured ink cartridges may have slightly different ink blends than the OEM product (the same way generic aspirin may have a different percentage of inactive ingredients compared to a name-brand aspirin bottle), they are essentially made with the same ingredients. Printer ink is printer ink, and using a replacement cartridge will not clog the printheads on your device any more than using OEM cartridges would. That’s because printheads aren’t clogged by the ingredients in ink per se; they’re clogged by misuse and neglect.

The easiest way to avoid having to deal with clogged printheads is by practicing proper maintenance of your printer, regardless of whether you’re using OEM products or not. Using your printer on a regular basis is one way to reduce the chances of clogged printheads. Some experts recommend using the printer every few days, or at least once a week at the bare minimum. Every type of ink dries up over time, and if there is any residual ink left in your printheads and you don’t use your device for several weeks, that ink residue can dry up and clog the printhead. This can happen regardless of the type of cartridge you use, as OEM ink will dry out just as quickly as compatible/remanufactured ink if left unused for prolonged periods of time.

Cleaning your printheads is an important part of regular printer maintenance. Whether you’re using OEM cartridges or compatible/replacement ones, you should clean your printer’s printheads about once each month (more often if your printer is prone to this problem). You can do this by running the cleaning cycle on your printer. Follow the instructions that came with your device so that you can properly perform the maintenance that your specific printer model needs. You may also want to use a can of air to blow away lint, dust, pet hair/dander, and tiny bits of paper from the printheads as well as the gears inside your printer, as these can also cause problems if they’re left to build up over time.

high-tech printer

You Need to Buy OEM Cartridges to Get OEM Product Specs – FALSE

Some myths surrounding product specifications are circulating around the internet, alleging that using OEM products is the only way to ensure that you’ll get an OEM-level performance out of your cartridge. However, this just isn’t true. The publishers at PC World worked with researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to compare the print capabilities of several OEM cartridges against compatible/remanufactured replacement cartridges. What they found was that all of the compatible/remanufactured cartridges they tested produced a higher volume of print work than OEM cartridges printed. This means that, in addition to saving you money off the purchase price of a cartridge, compatible/remanufactured cartridges will generally print more pages than their OEM counterparts. This gives you additional savings off the OEM cost: you’re paying less and getting more ink or toner per cartridge!

While print specs may vary from one product to another, you can count on 1ink.com’s compatible and remanufactured ink/toner cartridges to deliver an OEM-comparable performance on every project. Our cartridges have a standard two-year shelf life, which is the same shelf life most OEM cartridges carry. Our compatible and remanufactured cartridges also carry at least the same page yield as OEM products, and some cartridges are actually capable of outperforming the OEM version (per the previously-cited findings of the RIT/PC World investigation).

vacation pictures

Non-OEM Cartridges Produce Inferior Print Work – IT DEPENDS

Ranking print quality is very difficult because there aren’t very many objective metrics for comparison. It typically comes down to the subjective opinion of whoever happens to be conducting the comparison. It also depends heavily on factors like who produced or remanufactured a given cartridge.

In the previously cited collaboration between PC World and RIT, for example, they found that OEM cartridges outperformed many non-OEM products in terms of print quality. However, there were some instances in which well-made compatible or remanufactured cartridges matched or even outperformed the OEM cartridge! A similar study conducted by Macworld found that some compatible/remanufactured replacement cartridges actually outperformed OEM cartridges, producing more detailed photo prints with a more realistic, lifelike depiction of the colors in those images! Text and graphics on standard printer paper were clearer and more well-defined with the OEM cartridge – however, that wasn’t always the case. The study leaves some questions unanswered, but it appears to suggest that setting your printer to “Best Quality Photo” (or your printer’s equivalent setting) and using photo paper instead of standard printer pages can offset some differences in print quality. This may balance the performance of OEM vs. non-OEM products, or it could even tip the scales towards the compatible/remanufactured product!

The ultimate factor in comparing print quality is always who made a given cartridge. Many OEM brands state that their particular ink/toner cartridges will produce superior print work. They also state that the quality of a given print project can’t be guaranteed when consumers switch to compatible or remanufactured cartridges. Which is true – OEM products do produce exceptional, high-quality print work, and they cannot guarantee the quality of an off-brand product. However, we here at 1ink.com do guarantee the integrity of our cartridges and the quality of your print work! Our cartridges are always guaranteed to perform up to your expectations, and we will exchange or refund your purchase for up to one full year from the date of purchase if you’re not completely satisfied with our products.

hp ink cartridges

What’s The Bottom Line?

At the end of the day, only you, the consumer, can decide what to use in your printer. If you’re satisfied with the way OEM products work and you can afford the higher cost of OEM cartridges, then you’ll continue to get the same level of quality and performance you’re used to. However, OEM products can be very expensive, and that cost may be prohibitive for some individuals or small businesses.

If you’re going to use compatible or remanufactured replacement ink/toner cartridges, it’s imperative that you choose quality products from reputable retailers. We here at 1ink.com are dedicated to providing you with OEM levels of print quality and performance. Our remanufactured cartridges are reengineered domestically here in the United States. Our compatible replacement cartridges are made with the finest parts and the highest-quality ink or toner. We perform the same post-manufacturing print tests that OEM products go through to ensure that our products match the high industry standards set by OEM ink and toner. We also back every purchase with a 12-month, money-back guarantee to give you peace of mind every time you shop with us.

We’re not some fly-by-night ink and toner operation. We are a family-owned business that has been selling compatible and remanufactured cartridges since 2000. With nearly two decades of experience and millions of sales made in that time, we’ve built a strong reputation for ourselves that centers on our extensive knowledge, our exceptional customer service, and our dedication to quality, all while keeping costs low. If you’re ready to start saving some cash by switching to non-OEM ink or toner, protect your printer and the quality of your work by purchasing compatible or remanufactured cartridges from a reputable, experienced company like 1ink.com. We’re confident you’ll love your print work as much as you love the savings you get on every purchase.