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Remanufactured vs. Compatible Cartridges: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Brian Pietrus on

confused man

If you’ve shopped for ink and toner before, you’ve no doubt heard the terms “remanufactured” and “compatible.” You might not have realized it, but all of our ink and toner cartridges here at 1ink.com are either remanufactured replacement cartridges or compatible replacement cartridges. There’s a bit of misconception about what that actually means, though. Contrary to what some OEM advertisements might suggest, a compatible or remanufactured product is not inferior in any way to the original manufacturer’s toner. While there’s no distinction in print quality based on manufacturing type (compatible vs. remanufactured vs. OEM), there are differences across various brands and manufacturers owing to the manufacturing conditions as well as the post-manufacturing evaluation process. Read on to learn more about what you’re putting into your printer!

light bulb idea

It Starts with an Original

When you buy a cartridge that’s made by a specific printer brand for use with that brand, it’s called an original equipment manufacturer product, or “OEM” for short. Whether you buy a compatible replacement or a remanufactured replacement cartridge, it all begins with the design and function of an OEM product.

Printer companies realized long ago that the print industry is most profitable when it operates like the razor industry. Razor manufacturers sell the shaver handle for a very low price or give it away for free, then charge inflated prices for razor blades. The same is true of printers – often times the ink or toner is more expensive than the printer! You can buy a high-quality printer for around $100, but you could end up paying over $100 per cartridge if you’re paying OEM prices!

OEM ink and toner products set the standards of quality and performance. They’re dependable, they produce incredible print work, and they’re designed specifically to work with OEM printers. However, compatible and remanufactured cartridges provide consumers with a more affordable alternative. Our cartridges match the print quality, page yield, and shelf life of OEM products, but you’ll end up paying just a fraction of the OEM cost! So, what makes compatible and remanufactured cartridges different?

remanufactured ink cartridges inside an inkjet printer

Remanufactured Cartridges

It’s easiest to begin with remanufactured cartridges. When you purchase an OEM cartridge and use up all the ink or toner inside, you have the option of recycling that empty cartridge. Many office supply stores collect these empty cartridges for recycling, as do a number of online businesses. A remanufactured replacement cartridge is essentially a recycled OEM cartridge that’s been cleaned, refilled with ink or toner, and inspected for quality. However, the business you purchase your cartridge from will determine the quality and performance of that cartridge.

Here at 1ink.com, we never cut corners or take the easy way out. Our remanufactured replacement cartridges are inspected for faults at every stage of the remanufacturing process. Each cartridge that passes our initial inspection is then put through a rigorous factory cleaning and drying process to remove any residual ink/toner as well as any dust or dirt particles that may have accumulated. Next, we refit each cartridge with brand-new components, which may include a new smart chip to gauge your remaining ink levels, a new sponge (in ink cartridges), or a new drum unit and wiper blade (in toner cartridges). Our engineers refill each cartridge with premium ink or toner to the OEM factory recommended fill level, which is why you’re able to get OEM page yields from a remanufactured product. Afterwards, our technicians perform the same post-remanufacturing print tests that OEM toner goes through, so you always know you’re getting a quality product that performs just as well as an OEM cartridge.

On top of our excellent quality-control initiatives, many 1ink.com customers also take comfort in knowing that our remanufactured cartridges are reengineered right here in the United States. In fact, many of our remanufactured cartridges get worked on locally in the Los Angeles region! Buying remanufactured ink/toner cartridges can also help reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of winding up in a landfill after a single use, remanufactured cartridges get a second chance! After our factory cleaning and reengineering process, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a photograph printed with 1ink.com’s remanufactured cartridges and a photo printed with OEM ink or toner!

compatible ink cartridges

Compatible Cartridges

Compatible replacement cartridges are a little different than remanufactured cartridges. While a remanufactured product is a recycled OEM cartridge shell that’s been cleaned and rebuilt, a compatible cartridge is built from scratch to fit into your printer just like the OEM version. It will still provide you with the same performance and quality as an OEM product or a remanufactured product, but it’s made using a slightly different process.

You might think of compatible cartridges as the ink/toner version of generic cereal at the super market: it looks, smells, and tastes just like the brand-name cereal, but it’s made by a different manufacturer and sold in a slightly different packaging. Other than that, they’re essentially indistinguishable. Here at 1ink.com, we use brand-new components from reputable, top-of-the-line manufacturers to create this high-quality, low-cost cartridge. Each cartridge goes through an in-depth vetting process, including quality inspections and post-manufacturing print tests.

So, why are some cartridges on our site remanufactured and others are compatible? It all has to do with licensing. Some OEM brands have patents on their cartridges which prevent third-party manufacturers from making compatible (generic) versions. We provide our customers with compatible cartridges whenever we're able to do so. However, when a patent prevents us from making compatible replacement versions of an OEM product, we still offer a remanufactured version to meet the needs of our customers.

weighing out two options

How Do They All Stack Up?

You may be wondering how OEM, remanufactured, and compatible cartridges all compare. Just like OEM products, our compatible and remanufactured cartridges are made with quality and care. Our engineers understand the needs of small business owners and at-home workers alike, and we’ve factored all of those needs into creating our replacement ink and toner cartridges – including your financial needs.

There are many “rumors” that OEM products are formulated differently. They claim that using a compatible or remanufactured cartridge will clog your printheads and produce inferior print work, among other “scare stories” about the supposed risks that come with using aftermarket products. However, there is no substance to these claims. As we discussed in one of our recent blog posts, “Debunking OEM Ink/Toner Myths,” using compatible and replacement cartridges will not void your printer’s warranty, it will not clog your printheads or otherwise damage your printer in any way, and you will still get OEM print quality and product specs from a compatible or remanufactured replacement cartridge. For a specific example, consider a Canon 120 black toner cartridge. The OEM version will cost approximately $175.99 each, whereas our remanufactured version of that cartridge will lower your costs by over 75%! You’ll only pay $36.99 for a remanufactured replacement product that performs just as well as the OEM version and produces the same flawless print quality!

The bottom line question you need to ask yourself is, “How do you want to spend your hard-earned money?” Our compatible and remanufactured replacement ink/toner cartridges give you the same exceptional print quality, the same page yield and shelf life, and the same basic performance as OEM ink cartridges and toner cartridges, but you’ll save up to 85% off the OEM retail price by switching to compatible and remanufactured cartridges from 1ink.com. We’re not some fly-by-night company; we’re a family-owned and operated business that’s been selling affordable ink and toner cartridges for nearly 20 years! If you’re ready to stop paying OEM prices, make the switch to compatible and remanufactured toner from 1ink.com today!