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 user 2005-09-12 at 11:30:00 am Views: 130
  • #12776

    The Printer Cartridge Wars:oem, Generic or Remanufactured Cartridges Right for You?

    “remanufactured”, and “new compatible” inkjet printer cartridges and
    laser toner cartridges creep deeper into the printer accessories
    market, the choices become varied and often confusing. It is estimated
    that by the year 2004 the aftermarket share of the inkjet and toner
    cartridge market will exceed 11% of the estimated 12 billion dollar
    printer accessory market Here’s a look at what all these terms mean,
    and an examination of the upside and downside of using non-”brand name”
    printer cartridge products in your printer.


    First, let’s examine the terminology. When shopping online for a new
    inkjet or toner cartridge for your printer, you’ll likely encounter
    these terms:

    OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or brand name products

    A “brand name” inkjet or toner cartridge is just that – it’s a printer
    cartridge that carries the brand name of the manufacturer on it,
    usually the same as the printer manufacturer, for example, Epson,
    Canon, Hewlett Packard, etc.

    New compatible, off-brand or generic products

    A “new compatible”, “off-brand” or “generic” inkjet or toner cartridge
    is manufactured by a company other than the original printer
    manufacturer. There are a large number of these “new compatible”
    manufacturers, and it’s quite true that the quality of their product
    can vary (more on that a bit later). In the case of inkjet cartridges,
    “generic” cartridges are completely new. In the case of toner
    cartridges, to qualify as “new compatible” the toner drum must be
    replaced with a brand new drum, as well as all major parts serviced and
    replaced as needed.

    Remanufactured products

    A “remanufactured” inkjet or toner cartridge, by definition, is a
    cartridge which has been serviced, cleaned, refilled with toner or ink
    and possibly had a few component parts repaired or replaced. In many
    cases, remanufactured toner cartridges do not have new drums; they
    instead refurbish the original drum and send it out for another cycle.

    An Important Note About Toner Cartridges

    The relatively unknown truth is that almost all laser toner cartridges,
    including most of the original brand name “new” cartridges, have been
    remanufactured to some extent. The defining point is to what degree
    they have had component parts repaired and/or replaced. For example:
    check the box for a brand new Hewlett Packard Laser Jet 4000/27X. Brand
    new, right? Well, it is. But check the fine print, which says: This
    newly manufactured product may contain parts and materials recovered
    from the HP planet partners recycling program. This means that the
    product, while “new”, is possibly not completely new; it’s quite
    probable that components of this cartridge have been used before, and
    have been recycled.

    Quality vs. Cost

    It’s a fact: the cost of brand name inkjet and toner cartridges can be
    exceedingly high in comparison to generic or remanufactured inkjet or
    toner cartridges. In many cases, new compatible inkjet cartridges can
    be as much as 70% less than the cost of brand name cartridges. New
    compatible or remanufactured toner cartridges on the whole tend to be
    as much as 50% less in cost than their brand name counterparts. For
    example, an Epson T013201 black inkjer cartridge, used for various
    Epson Stylus printers, sells for $17.09 direct from Epson. The same
    cartridge, compatible, at an online retailer, Abacus24-7 , sells for
    $4.95. The difference….70% in savings.(Prices as of August 2005)

    What’s the catch?

    Well, there really isn’t one, if you find a quality off-brand product
    you can purchase from an online merchant you can trust, one who stands
    by their product in those rare cases that generic or remanufactured
    products don’t perform as well as you expect. Brand name cartridges
    cost much more than generics primarily because of the marketing and
    advertising budgets most OEM manufacturers spend in promoting their
    products; a cost most smaller manufacturers don’t have. And then
    there’s the issue of your printer warranty – we’ll discuss that issue a
    little bit later.

    Inkjet Cartridges: Performance

    Generic or new compatible inkjet cartridges are in general highly
    reliable and perform as well as, or nearly as well as, brand name
    cartridges. Latest technologies and adherence to ISO 9001 codes
    (internationally recognized standards for quality assurance) by most
    producers of generic cartridges has increased the overall reliability
    of these aftermarket products in relation to your typical brand
    cartridges. In particular, Epson and Canon new compatibles are highly
    reliable, as the technology required to duplicate the performance of
    their cartridges is minimal (with the exception of the very latest
    Epson cartridges with the “computer chip”). In terms of print life (how
    many pages they print) generics stack up pretty well – usually within
    plus or minus 5% of the life of your typical brand name cartridge.

    High quality photographic printing is the one area where generic
    cartridges are occasionally suspect. The quality of the inks used by
    the manufacturer play a significant role here – lower grade ink which
    doesn’t have the same density or brilliance and consistency of color
    can produce inferior results in the most high-demand cases. Although
    most manufacturers of generics have moved away from inferior inks, we
    recommend you ask your online merchant about the quality of the inks
    used by their supplier, if you are doing this kind of high-quality
    photographic printing. In particular, the inks should be made in the
    U.S.A.. With good ink your results should be just fine.

    Remanufactured Inkjet cartridges are another subject. Primarily you
    will only find remanufactured Inkjet cartridges for Hewlett Packard,
    Lexmark and Dell, as these companies have meticulously patented (and
    subsequently filed suit against anyone who tried to duplicate) their
    inkjet cartridge designs. There are no true “generics” for HP or Dell
    inkjet printers.

    Remanufactured cartridges are a huge cost value over new cartridges -
    usually over 50% less – and for every day printing work just fine. The
    failure rate of remanufactured cartridges is slightly higher than new
    product, however, and so it’s important your online merchant guarantees
    their product to cover the occasional return. For typical printing,
    remanufactured inkjet cartridges can be the right choice over new ones.
    Lately, Dell computers and printers are increasing in popularity.
    Dell’s popular models include the Color 720, and All-in-One a920, a940,
    and a960 models. Direct from Dell, one can buy an OEM cartridge, for
    example the color cartridge (X0504) for the Dell a940 printer for
    $34.99 from dell . The same cartridge, yet remanufactured, sells online
    for $23.95 at Abacus24-7.(Prices as of August 2005)

    Laser Toner Cartridges: Performance

    As with generic or new compatible inkjet cartridges, new compatible
    toner cartridges are for the most part highly reliable and provide a
    noticeable cost savings over brand new toner cartridges. Again, ISO
    9001 standards have greatly increased the consistency and reliability
    of the aftermarket toner product in recent years. Further, many new
    compatible toner manufacturers increase the volume of toner in the
    cartridge, providing for a longer print life. Quality new compatible
    cartridges will have new or replaced mag sleeves, wiper blades, and
    magnet tips.

    Remanufactured toner cartridges in general have a less stringent set of
    criteria applied to them, and as mentioned before may not contain a new
    toner drum. Be sure to ask your supplier. It is our humble
    recommendation that you go with toner cartridges that have a new
    aftermarket drum, as opposed to a refurbished or recycled drum. Lastly,
    ask if the new drum is “high density”. You want that.

    Color laser new compatible toner cartridges are just coming to market,
    and although early feedback seems to indicate a positive outlook, an
    evaluation of these cartridges is premature at this time.

    Good for the Country, Good for the Environment

    If you care about recycling or the good of the Country’s economy, consider these facts:

    - 99% of new compatible toner cartridges are manufactured in the USA; most “OEM” brand cartridges are manufactured overseas

    - Nearly 40,000 tons of plastic are saved from our nation’s landfills each year, by remanufacture of inkjet and toner cartridges

    - It takes on average 2 quarts of oil to manufacture a Brand New Toner
    cartridge but less than half of that amount to manufacture a new
    compatible toner cartridge

    Your Printer Warranty and You

    A legitimate concern of many people is whether using generic or
    remanufactured cartridges in their printer voids the printer’s
    warranty. The answer is no. The following is a partial quote of the
    text of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act, which deals with
    this exact question:


    United States Code Annotated

    Title 15 Commerce and Trade

    Chapter 50 Consumer Product Warranties

    15 Section 2032

    … (c) No
    warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied
    warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with
    such product, any article or service (other than article or service
    provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is
    identified by brand, trade or corporate name; except that the
    prohibition of this subsection be waived by the commission if:

    1) The
    warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will
    function properly only if the article or service so identified is used
    in connection with the warranted product, and

    2) the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest.

    In English,
    this means that no warranty may be voided by use of aftermarket
    products unless the manufacturer acquires a waiver that clearly shows
    such voidance would be in the public interest, or that their product
    will only function properly if the specified manufacturer parts are

    There is one
    catch, however: the manufacturer (in this case your printer
    manufacturer) is not compelled to repair their product under warranty
    if damage done to the product occurred as a direct result of using
    aftermarket parts. In other words, using generic cartridges is fine,
    and if your printer ever fails under conditions which have nothing to
    do with the cartridge you are using, no problem. However, if the damage
    is directly caused (however unlikely) by the use of a generic
    cartridge, the warrantor may elect not to repair it, although the
    warranty would remain in effect for all other warranty issues.


    In general, aftermarket generic and new compatible or remanufactured
    printer cartridge products are an excellent way to cut significant
    costs from your every day small business or personal printing expense,
    while maintaining quality printing results. Those who need extremely
    high quality printing (such as photographers and artists) can, with a
    little trial-and-error testing of different generic cartridge products,
    find a product which provides the quality results you need.

    In all cases, be sure to buy your cartridges from an online supplier
    who 100% guarantees their product without question, and isn’t afraid to
    answer your questions when it comes to the quality and reliability of
    their products.