What’s the difference between name brand ink cartridges and third-party ink alternatives?
If you’ve shopped for printer ink or toner online, you’ll know that there are different options available. By far, the most familiar are name brand cartridges, also known as original (OEM) cartridges. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) printer cartridges are designed and built by the same manufacturer as your printer.
The Problem: Genuine (OEM) ink and toner cartridges are notoriously expensive. After just a few replacements, they end up costing more than the price of the printer, making replacing ink or toner cartridges such an unpleasant experience. This is what you call a razor-blade business model where companies make a profit off selling razor handles for cheap, only to charge a premium for the blades. Most printer manufacturers follow a similar model with their lower end inkjet printers: sell the printer at a loss, then make up for it with expensive cartridge prices.
The Solution: This is where generic or aftermarket printer cartridges come in.
Remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges are built by a third-party manufacturer to provide consumers with cartridges that cost a lot cheaper than name brand ink and toner.
Over the years, more and more consumers have switched to alternative ink and toner options as a competitive and reliable solution to cut down on printer expenses.
Meet LD Products
LD Products is a company that has sold remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges for over twenty years. After all this time, we still have customers regularly asking us about the difference between our products and the name brand. With this article, we dive into all of the most common cartridge type questions, including:
- What are the differences between name brand, remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges?
- Are remanufactured and compatible cartridges just as reliable as the name brand?
- Will I get the same page yield and print quality as a name brand brand cartridge?
- Are remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges easy to install?
- How long do remanufactured ink cartridges last?
- Do remanufactured or compatible cartridges track ink or toner levels?
- If I use a remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge, will it void my warranty?
Let’s start with the differences!
Name Brand (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Printer Cartridges
These are cartridges that are made by your printer manufacturer. Each cartridge series is designed for a specific group of printers. Printer manufacturers spend a lot of money on research and development of their printers and their cartridges, which adds to the cost of the cartridges themselves. Name brand cartridges are generally more expensive than aftermarket cartridges but they are dependable and sometimes the only option if your printer is new to market or uncommon.
Remanufactured Printer Cartridges
A remanufactured cartridge is a name brand cartridge that has gone through one cycle of use. After a cartridge has been used, it is recycled, picked up by a remanufacturing facility and professionally remanufactured. These cartridges use the same shell as a name brand cartridge, so they will often look very similar to the OEM product. During the remanufacturing process, the cartridge is disassembled, extensively cleaned, tested for quality and any worn or damaged internal components are replaced. The cartridge is then carefully reassembled, refilled with ink or toner to the same yield as a name brand cartridge, tested again and brought back to life. Remanufactured printer cartridges typically cost less than the name brand because they do not require as many new components to create a finished, working product. By using the original shell and most of the original internal parts, manufacturing costs remain low and the savings are passed onto the customer! If you’ve purchased a printer that is new to the market, it may take some time for a remanufactured cartridge option to become available for your machine. Since remanufactured cartridges rely on recycled name brand cartridges, manufacturers have to wait until there is a large enough pool of OEMs to pull from to produce a remanufactured version. Buying remanufactured cartridges are better for the environment too, preventing one less cartridge from ending up in a landfill.
You can also refill your own cartridges with a refill kit. While these cartridges technically aren’t remanufactured (you use your own empty ink cartridge), they are another way to lower printing costs. Refill kits are available for a number of popular HP and Canon ink cartridge series. The refill process is relatively easy but can be a bit messy (luckily gloves are included in the kit!). Most kits contain enough refill ink to fill 2-3 cartridges, making them a great cost saving alternative to higher priced name brand ink. We recommend refilling an original ink cartridge that has only been used once to get the best print results. If you refill a cartridge that’s been used multiple times your print quality will deteriorate and may damage your printer.
Compatible Printer Cartridges
A compatible cartridge is a brand new printer cartridge built by a manufacturer other than your printer. Most are uniquely designed to differentiate from their name brand counterpart but despite any structural differences, the cartridge will still fit in your machine and print the same number of pages, just like an OEM cartridge. It is similar to buying the generic version of a name brand product. Costco® has their Kirkland Signature® line, Target® has their Up and Up™ line, and with a compatible cartridge provider you get a brand new alternative product, without sacrificing quality. Additionally, compatible manufacturers don’t have the added research and development costs or frequent firmware technology updates, allowing them to keep cartridge prices low.
Are remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges just as reliable as the name brand?
Yes, most are just as reliable as the name brand, but do your research before settling on a particular cartridge provider. Many aftermarket cartridges are produced abroad (mainly in China) and a handful are still produced in the U.S.A. With any secondary market, there is a lot of competition and varying degrees of quality. Search for “compatible printer cartridges” on Google® and you’ll find dozens of competing brands and price points. Often times the cheaper the cartridge, the cheaper the quality. We recommend buying from a provider that’s priced somewhere in the middle – in between the cheapest aftermarket cartridge and the name brand cartridge – to get the most comprehensive value. Higher priced aftermarket cartridges are typically produced by established suppliers with better quality parts, providing more consistent print results.
To find a reputable supplier, look for a high number of positive reviews and a strong product guarantee.
You can’t go wrong with LD Products, we’ve been selling our own LD-brand line of aftermarket printer cartridges since 1999, and we back all of our products by an industry-best lifetime guarantee! Our cartridges come highly reviewed and are guaranteed to offer exceptional print results page after page. Thousands of remanufactured and compatible cartridges are available on LDProducts.com. To see what type of cartridges are available for your printer, check the product description of the related LD cartridge on our website. Whether the cartridge is remanufactured or compatible, all depends on what is available for your machine. Either way, both cartridge types will work seamlessly with your printer and produce a high quality print. More on that below!
Will I get the same page yield and print quality as a name brand printer cartridge?
Yes, an aftermarket cartridge from a reputable supplier will print the same number of pages and offer a similar print quality as a brand name cartridge. LD Products subjects all of their cartridges to rigorous quality and reliability testing standards to ensure you receive the absolute best printing results. Cartridges are filled to the factory recommended ink levels to match the manufacturer’s quoted page yield, as based on ISO/IEC 24711 specifications. Keep in mind, not every printer cartridge is perfect. Every once in a while there might be a bad apple in the bunch, even with name brand cartridges, which is why you should make sure your cartridges are backed by a strong guarantee. At LD Products, we take pride in how much work and time we put in to make sure our products exceed our customers’ expectations.
To demonstrate the quality, check out these two print comparison videos. The first video is a a print comparison video of an OEM HP® 564 ink cartridge versus an LD brand remanufactured HP 564XL ink cartridge:
This second video is a print comparison video of an OEM HP® 312X toner cartridge versus an LD brand remanufactured HP 312X toner cartridge.
Are remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges easy to install?
Aftermarket cartridges will install seamlessly in your printer, just like a name brand cartridge. As mentioned previously, remanufactured cartridges use the same shell as the name brand, so the installation process is essentially going to be identical to installing an OEM cartridge. The compatible cartridge installation process can be a little different due to a slightly different cartridge design, but don’t let it deter you. Remember, compatible cartridges are carefully designed to to work with your printer. Sometimes you may encounter a tab on the cartridge that needs to be shifted a bit before installation, or you might need to gently nudge a cartridge into place, but compatible cartridge manufacturers have gotten so sophisticated in their design in recent years that the difference is minimal.
How long do remanufactured ink cartridges last?
Shelf life is the estimated amount of time a cartridge will last in its sealed package. The shelf life for an original printer cartridge is 24 months and the shelf life for a remanufactured or compatible cartridge is 36 months. The amount of time a cartridge will last installed inside your printer varies depending on how frequently you print and how much ink is inside the cartridge. If an ink cartridge is not used regularly, it will dry out and cause your printer clog. To avoid this, you should try to print at least once every couple of weeks, even if it’s just a short email, to keep your printer primed. Toner cartridges never dry out since they print with toner powder instead of ink, which means laser printer owners can go months in between print jobs and never worry about a dried up cartridge.
Cartridge page yield gives you an estimation of how many pages you can print with a specific cartridge series. For example, an HP 67XL black ink cartridge has a page yield of 240 pages and an Epson 802XL black ink cartridge has a page yield of 2,600 pages. As you can see, page yield can be very different, depending on what cartridge your printer uses, so if you are in the market for a new printer, be sure to check the cartridge yield before you buy! All printer brands base their yields on a 5% page coverage, where only 5% of the page is imprinted with ink. This standard is equivalent to printing a short paragraph or email, allowing customers to easily compare cost efficiency across products. But how long your printer cartridge actually lasts depends on what you print. If you print lots of photos, you can expect to run out of ink much sooner since photo printing is more complex and uses more ink. If you print documents occasionally, your cartridges will last longer.
Are remanufactured inks bad?
Remanufactured ink and toner cartridges by LD Products are tested against high industry standards of quality and durability to guarantee that the product is safe to use and will perform as expected. It’s worth noting, however, that not all aftermarket printer cartridge providers engage in the same meticulous methodology of quality assurance. Using aftermarket cartridges will not void your printer’s warranty. When it comes to leaks, leaky cartridges happen all the time regardless if it’s a genuine name brand cartridge or a compatible alternative.
Do remanufactured or compatible printer cartridges track ink or toner levels?
Yes, most remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges will accurately track ink and toner levels so you know when to replace your cartridge. To confirm, read the cartridge product description on the remanufactured cartridge provider’s website, it should include some copy about monitoring ink levels since it’s a major selling point for the aftermarket industry. If there isn’t any mention of ink or toner levels, then the cartridge likely cannot track them. There are some remanufactured cartridges that may not accurately read in your printer but they will yield the full number of printed pages equivalent to the name brand. If you know roughly how long it takes you go to go through a name brand cartridge you can use that as your baseline to manually track cartridge usage.
If I use a remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge, will it void my printer’s warranty?
The short answer is, no! A printer warranty cannot be voided if you choose to use a remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge. You can’t be denied service or a refund that would otherwise be covered under a warranty program simply because you use an aftermarket product. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act protects your right to use third-party cartridges in your machine without penalty by the original manufacturer. You have the right to choose what cartridge you put in your printer.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about the differences between name brand and aftermarket cartridges, you can make a great buy for your machine. Remanufactured and compatible cartridges from LD Products are an easy way to save on printing costs, giving you the quality and reliability you need at budget friendly prices. Happy printing!
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