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!
Brand names are trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with LD Products
This was helpful thank you.
Do LD cartridges come with a remanufactured chip that tracks use / volume remaining ?
If the product description says it comes with a chip that tracks ink levels then yes. Make sure to double check the description.
I have used these cartridges for a while but I order a 60xl for my hp printer a while back. I just now needed it and it won’t work. Will you replace it and when shall I return it.
If you purchased those cartridges awhile ago, there’s a good chance that they may have already dried up that’s why it won’t work. This is why we don’t recommend you overstock on ink that you won’t use immediately because ink — no matter if its an HP or an LD product — will likely dry up if not used within a certain timeframe. We can certainly replace your cartridge, just give customer service a call and we’ll send you a new cartridge.
I have been using your cartridges for years and they are great. But even after reading this article, I do not understand whether LD sells remanufactured cartridges or compatible cartridges — or both. And how can you tell which it is?
Hi James! LD sells both remanufactured and compatible cartridges. You can tell by the box or packaging it comes in or by looking up the product on our website.
Excellent description(s).. I have used LD products for several years now and found them to be excellent also
. The prices ARE really good and shipping times VERY good…
Have NO complaints or problems with the LD company OR their Cartridges no matter which printer I purchase.
Some printer manufacturers change their internal coding to reject compatible cartridges. Then you’re stuck with them. Fortunately LD refunded my money when I returned the unused compatible cartridges.
Have used LD Products for Many years for more than one printer. Only had one cartridge that didn;t work right and it was promptly replaced with no questions. I have saved hundreds of dollars. Delivery time is unbelievable; sually only two days. Have recommended LD Products to many friends. Have never been disappointed.
What if my printer won’t recognize the aftermarket product?
Aftermarket products usually come with a chip that works with the printers to make sure they work flawlessly. If you run into problems using the compatible cartridges, feel free to email me at [email protected], chat with us online, or call us at our toll free number. We are very proactive with our customers so you’ll reach me or someone else right away.
I purchased 786 XL ink cartridges but my Epson 4630 Pro printer will not accept them. Is there something that I can do so the printer will accept your cartridges to print.
Are you getting an error message from your printer saying it won’t accept the cartridges? If so, try doing a hard reset and restore your printer’s default settings. It might also help to check if there’s any packaging left on the cartridges like a protective sticker. Let me know if it still won’t work!
I’ve been using LD Products cartridges for about 7 years and have never had a problem. And … the price I pay for their laserjet cartridge is about 1/3 the cost of what I paid at Staples for my HP printer. They last a very long time; in fact, I just recently replaced my cartridge after 2 years and I print quite a bit!
I can’t seem to find this answer in my Epson WF-7610 printer documentation. I am looking at your LD remanufactured ink replacement cartridges on Amazon and am impressed at the price difference. But I am seeing pictures of your XL cartridges, for the colors (not black), and they look like they are the same size as the regular capacity color cartridges. Is the XL cartridge the same size as the regular capacity cartridges? Will my WF-7610 printer accept these XL color cartridges? I can see that the black XL cartridge is larger than the others, but the color cartridges are smaller (narrower). Also, I am reading about some people who get an error message when they install remanufactured cartridges in their Epson printers. Will these really work in my Work Force WF-7610 Epson All-In-One printer? I really don’t want to buy from you and then find they don’t work and need to return them. I am reading good things about your products and I would like to use them. Thank you!
The XL cartridges are the same size as the standard cartridges. The difference is the volume of ink inside these cartridges: standard cartridges are not filled with ink, it only has a certain amount in it. XL (high yield) cartridges contain more ink, fill up the cartridge more relative to the standard. XL and standard cartridges should be the same size so they fit the cartridge slot.
If my printer goes bad and I purchase a new printer and I have refills that have not been used on the bad printer, can they be exchanged for new ones for my new printer?
It depends where you purchased them and what their terms are.
Can a person buy the ink and refill their cartridges?
Great question! Yes, you can refill some previously-used cartridges on your own with an ink refill kit. They are only available for certain printer cartridges, though…not all cartridges are easily refillable! You can find our refill kits here: https://www.ldproducts.com//ink-refill-kits.html/. If you are interested in how the refill process works, check out our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfZ-F1MPJ_s
Thank-you for this discussion on generic toner and ink.
I have been shopping for a laser color printer that has a good track record.
I have seen comments by people who do review that they are very satisfied with HP brand laser printers but that they have had trouble with upgraded soft ware (firmware) causing the printers to not accept generic toner. I personally have had perfectly good generic ink cartridges stop functioning after an Epson firm ware upgrade a year ago. Then I tried another generic guaranteed to work by seller and it did work.
Should I avoid buying HP because of this issue? Are there printer brands in your experience that do not play these games to try to force customers to buy only name brand ink. or toner? Seems to me a good business niche would exist for a printer company to partner with an ink and toner producer to make great printers and reasonably priced ink/toner.
I have used LD products for many years on 3 different printers and the work very well. Occasionally there is a problem but your customer service I’d great and replacements were made fast and efficiently. I highly recommend this company for their replacement cartriges
I find what HP does, relative to dealing with non-HP cartridges, very annoying. I use HP 88xl and HP 902 cartridges and would like to know what can be done to deal with this. Someone suggested that a piece of tape be put over one of the contacts on the cartridge. Will that work? Does LD offer the above cartridges that have a new chip installed that defeats what HP does? Any other hardware / software suggestion that you have?
Were you referring to the firmware updates that render aftermarket cartridges obsolete? Yes, there is a way around it. You simply have to disable the automatic printer updates and aftermarket cartridges should work fine.
I read somewhere that Epson has recently changed its firmware for the Workforce 600 so that aftermarket cartridges no longer work. Is this true? Is there a workaround? Someone is about to give me one, but I don’t want it if I have to buy OEM cartridges.
We haven’t heard anything about firmware updates affecting the Workforce 600 but if you are worried about firmware updates potentially blocking your aftermarket cartridges, you may want to turn off the automatic updates on your printer. Turning off updates protects your printer from future firmware updates impacting your aftermarket cartridge use. You can read more about how firmware affects aftermarket cartridges here: https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/are-printer-manufacturers-using-firmware-updates-to-stop-you-from-saving/
My Epson WorkForce 600 printer had the same problem, and yes, it was a firmware update that caused that. I had to go back to a previous software version and turn off the automatic updates.
What about the ink used in OEM and remanufactured cartridges? Is the ink the same?
The ink inside a remanufactured cartridge is not the same as the OEM due to copyright, however, we formulate our ink to be as close as possible to the OEM so you get comparable print results.
Do you ship to France? 🙂
Unfortunately we do not ship to France. We ship all across the United States, Canada and to the non-contiguous US territories. Sorry about that!
I have used compatible cartridges on my HP laser jet 200 color MFP M276 PCL 6 for 18 months and my printer broke down! It cost me $25 for the repair.
How can I be sure that LP will not break my printer?
Our cartridges are quality tested by our cartridge experts to ensure you get great results, just like the HP brand. We also back our ink with a Lifetime guarantee, so if for some reason you aren’t happy with the quality, we’d be happy to get a replacement cartridge out to you or provide a refund, your choice. Hope this helps!
I got one of the toner cartridges for my HP that used the 05A. it fit perfectly and printed one page. Now the toner light is on and it wont print any more pages. These are brand new but I did buy them off of Amazon. The box was unopened and everything was sealed up really well. So do I count this as a loss and a lesson learned. The HP cartridges are pretty spendy. Your reviews were good on Amazon. Could you maybe give me a reason this would happen? Strange it printed one page out so beautifully.
Hi Joanne, I am sorry you had that experience with our cartridge. You can try removing the cartridge and gently rock it back and forth over a trash can a few times over a trash can to redistribute the toner powder inside. That usually gets the cartridge printing again right away. If that doesn’t work, please contact our customer service team at 888-321-2552 so we can further assist you, we back all of our cartridges with a lifetime guarantee and would be happy to get a replacement out to you.
I purchased a remanufactured set of cartridges to replace the initial set for an Epson XP 6000 and it worked for a few print jobs. Then it suddenly stopped working saying the printer cannot recognize the ink cartridge. Is this something that is common with this printer model?
I am sorry you are having trouble with those remanufactured Epson cartridges, no, that is not common. Did you try cleaning the gold contact points on the side of the cartridge and reinstalling? Sometimes dust or fingerprint oil can get on the contact points and cause a faulty reading on the printer. Hope this helps!
I have been a happy LPD customer for many years. In only one case did I get a cartridge that didn’t function, and LD sent a replacement immediately. I have come to realize that BEFORE you buy a printer, you should check the availability of cartridges on the website. I have been hosed by having to buy 962 and 962XL cartridges for about a year, and still waiting, because they are too new to market and an insufficient number of OEM cartridges have reached the secondary market.
How about Ink for Epson EcoTank Models. No cartridges you fill ink tanks with new ink. Any wise words regarding what one needs to consider if looking to purchase a less expensive ink…
Hi Richard, we have an article all about ink tank printers here: https://www.ldproducts.com/blog/best-ink-tank-printers-of-2018/. The most affordable option is the Epson EcoTank ET-2720. We offer compatible ink bottles for this printer (552 series), which are cheaper than Epson. You can find the ink bottles on our website here: https://www.ldproducts.com/Epson/Ink-Cartridge/ET/ET-2720/0/12505-Printer.html
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