Printer cartridges whether it be ink or toner can be relatively expensive, especially if you do a lot of printing.  So when you find that “remanufactured” cartridge or see that mall kiosk that refills your cartridges for considerably less than purchasing the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridge, you may be tempted to try them out.

OEM Cartridges:

Manufacturers invest a lot of time and money getting the most performance out of their products, so it should come as no surprise that it is extremely rare to have a brand new OEM cartridge malfunction in anyway. In fact in my 15 years as an IT professional I cannot recall a single incident where a cartridge was installed and either didn’t work or caused damage.

Remanufactured and Refills:

Companies that recycle cartridges for the purposes of redistribution are (in most cases) simply extending the lives of OEM cartridges that have run empty by refilling the ink or toner and replacing a few wear and tear items in hopes that it will perform as it did from the manufacturer.  While some remanufactured cartridges perform well, others can cause a huge mess that can lead to printer damage.

Defective remanufactured toner cartridges tend to “bleed” causing toner to contaminate the paper path leading to prints with notable blotches or spots of ink.  To correct the problem it is necessary that all toner cartridges to be removed and a thorough cleaning be done. This can be extremely time consuming and the offending cartridge needs to be replaced. In some cases this happens when the cartridge is still half full.

Defective ink cartridges tend to leak leading to lengthy cleanups; however the most troubling problem that I’ve witnessed on occasion is that because the ink used to refill the cartridge is not the same quality as OEM they tend to dry out faster leading to damage of the print heads and even more troubling, drying up in the tubes that deliver the ink to the print head. This is permanent damage as the cost of replacing these parts often outweigh the cost of the printer.

While you might save money in the short term with a remanufactured or refilled cartridge, but, you might actually be spending more than you bargained for!