What Is The Difference Between An OEM, Compatible, and Remanufactured Toner Cartridge?

Justin Chung9/11/19

Your printer is signalling that toner is low.

You decide to go online shopping and can't believe how expensive the OEM brand name version of your toner is. Your eyes then glance to what looks like generic versions of your toner cartridge that are cheaper - often times much cheaper - than the OEM. They have the words 'compatible' and 'remanufactured' on it. 

...So, what's the deal? Can these generic versions be trusted? And why are they so much cheaper that the genuine OEM versions?


To begin, let's go over what a genuine OEM cartridge is:

A genuine OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer toner cartridge is a toner cartridge manufactured by your printer brand. So if you have a Canon printer, the OEM toner cartridge would be the toner cartridge manufactured and sold by Canon. Generally speaking, a genuine OEM cartridge is the gold standard in terms of print quality and performance. However, they are also the most expensive versions of the toner cartridge in the market.


A compatible cartridge is a generic cartridge that can act as a replacement for your genuine OEM cartridge.They are produced by a third party manufacturer that is not your printer brand. They may look and feel the same as a genuine OEM toner cartridge but may have slight design variations depending on whether the OEM version has any patented parts or designs. 


Compatible cartridges produced by a quality manufacturer will be assembled using new, premium parts. They undergo ISO 9001-certified production procedures and inspection protocols - a process used by both OEM and compatible cartridge manufacturers alike.

A compatible cartridge sourced from a quality manufacturer can print as well as or even exceed the performance of a genuine OEM cartridge - at a fraction of the cost.


A remanufactured cartridge is a once used OEM cartridge that has been professionally cleaned, rebuilt, and refilled. They are derived from recycled OEM cartridge shells that have been disassembled, cleaned, and inspected by a manufacturer that is not your printer manufacturer. Any worn or damaged parts will be replaced and the cartridge will be refilled to yield the same amount of prints as the OEM version. Remanufactured cartridges can be a great, cost-saving alternative to OEM cartridges and great for the environment.


If you decide to purchase a compatible or remanufactured toner cartridge, always check the product review and the seller's reputation before purchase. Replacement cartridges don’t all come equally and choosing a quality cartridge from a reputable source will save you time, money and stress!


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