Compatible Versus Genuine Toner Cartridges

by : Bill Tucker

Compatible means that the toner cartridge can be used in your specific equipment and also that it is not the Genuine Brand. Refilling toner cartridges is big business in the US and the world. Many companies choose to purchase the compatible version instead of the Original Equipment Manufacturer, OEM. Compatible can also mean completely brand new but generic.

In the beginning of refill cartridges there were not many options. Toner and internal replacement parts were not readily available, so the quality was not as high as one would like. In the recent years all that has changed. One of the most important components that should be replaced is the drum and the drum blade. These were designed to only last the life of the toner being used from the cartridge. If you were to reuse the original drum it would cause many print defects such as light print, marks and several other image defects. The drum blade would also create streaking and line type image defects. Think of the drum blade as a windshield wiper. When it wears out certain areas are not being cleaned and it makes it hard to see through the window! In the same way certain areas are not being wiped off and you then have lines on the printed pages. We now have access to not only drums and blades but many other components that wear out and need to be replaced inside the toner cartridge. When selecting a company that refills or sells compatible toner cartridges, I would make sure that they do in fact replace the drum and drum blade, or it will not last and you will have wasted your time and money on something that was supposed to save you money in the first place.

False assumptions: OEMs never fail

Having been in this business for over twenty years it seems that most people believe that if it is the original (OEM) toner cartridge that it will never fail. This is just not true. I have seen many OEM cartridges fail. Some from defect and some from customer induced causes. Here is a list of causes induced by customer neglect or error. Staples paper clips, paper dust, stickyback labels and placing the cartridge down on an unsafe position causing damage to drum.

False Assumptions: Refills always leak

Here again we have an assumption that is just not true. In my experience, the number one cause for a leaking cartridge is paper or labels stuck up inside the drum area. This is caused by using inferior labels or dog-eared paper. There are some refilled cartridges that have not been refurbished in a correct manner. Inside the cartridge is a part that is called a recovery blade. It is a thin Mylar that does exactly what it is named for. It recovers the excess toner and keeps it in the waste toner tank. If the recovery blade is old and warped, toner will fall down into the paper path and some how end up on your brand new shirt. Ever since then you swore to never use these darn refills any more!

If you run across a toner cartridge and the price is unbelievably low it may be because the company that refilled it didn't replace all of the components that we mentioned earlier. Try and stay away from these kind of deals if you can help it. In this industry there are standards. One question to ask is if they are an ISO 9001 facility. An ISO 9001 facility has the highest standards and you can trust that they install all major components and are put together the right way. This is important, next time you are purchasing toner cartridges just ask them if they are. If they look at you kind of strange or if there is a long pause and they don't know what you are talking about, stay away from buying from them. There may be some good rechargers out there that are not ISO 9001 but for the most part this will help weed out the bad ones.

Pros and Cons of Compatible and Genuine Toner Cartridges

Compatible Pros: Cost, the average savings can be 50% to 70% from OEM retail prices. If you make several thousand prints, this can really add up. Recycling benefits our world because it reduces the amount that we put in our landfills.

Compatible Cons: You will have to make sure you buy quality compatibles or you may get a bad cartridge.

OEM Pros: Consistency, toner yields, new parts, knowing were it came from and that it was created by the OEM.

OEM Cons: Cost, toner cartridges can be much more expensive.