Should You Use an OEM Cartridge?

Should you use an OEM cartridge in your printer?  This is a very frequently asked question because there are several different types of printer cartridges available and many people are confused by all the options.  Is one type better than the other?  One brand better than the other?  Today I'm going to explain the various options and hopefully clear it up a bit for you.

  • The first type of cartridge is an OEM cartridge.  OEM stands for "original equipment manufacturer."  This cartridge is made by the company that made your printer - for instance, if you have a Canon printer, Canon makes cartridges for it and attempts to sell them to you.  These are OEM cartridges and are high quality with (normally) long life.  I say "normally" because the number of pages you will get out of a cartridge depends on the percent of page coverage you have.  Printer manufacturers are deceptive with their page yields because they base them on a 5% page coverage.  So they will tell you that you'll get 6000 pages before you have to change the cartridge - but really, who prints documents that only cover 5% of the page?  If you print documents that cover the entire page, you won't get 6000 pages out of the cartridge.  Don't get me wrong - you'll still get a lot of pages, just not quite 6000.
  • The next type of cartridge is a compatible cartridge.  Compatible cartridges are brand new cartridges that are designed to work in your printer, but they are made by a third party - not by your printer manufacturer. In other words, they're generic.  Most compatibles are designed to have the same page yield as the OEMs. 
  • The third type of cartridge is the remanufactured cartridge or "reman" for short.  These are OEM cartridges that have been sent back to a company that disassembles them, inspects and cleans them, replaces worn interior parts and refills them with ink.  The cartridge shell is still the OEM cartridge, but some or all of the interior parts have been replaced.  An advantage with remans is that you are helping the environment by recycling.  Are they as good as OEMs?  Some are and some aren't.  Personally, I've had 2 printers ruined by reman cartridges, so I won't use them anymore.  Having said that, that happened almost 10 years ago and technology has changed a lot since then.  (I tend to hold grudges, so......)  Here at OEX, we used remans in a couple of the printers in our offices and didn't have any problems with them, but you've got to be a little careful with these - not all reman companies do quality work.
  • Lastly, you have refilled cartridges.  These, again, are OEM cartridges, but they have been refilled - normally by drilling a hole in them and injecting the ink or toner.  These are usually really cheap, so they're attractive to some people, but be aware that they can be risky.  Many times a refilled cartridge won't work well or will quit working completely.   OEX doesn't sell refilled cartridges.

Which type of cartridge you use is a matter of preference, but I would recommend staying away from refilled cartridges.  If you go with compatibles or remans and stick with the well-known brands like Innovera, Media Sciences or IBM, you will have a good quality item.  Yes, I said IBM.  You may not know this, but IBM makes a huge range of cartridges for HP printers.

One myth that I would like to dispell, in case you're not already aware, is that it will NOT void your printer's warranty if you choose not to use OEM cartridges in it.  That is a ploy that the manufacturers try to use to get you to buy their cartridges and not only is it not true, it is illegal for them to do it or say it.  Don't let them scare you.  Also, the printer will usually tell you to change the cartridge before it's actually empty, so I ignore the instruction and run it until it stops printing correctly.

Hopefully this has helped to clear up a few of your questions, but if you still need help deciding, give our Customer Service department a call at 877-795-2600 and one of our representatives will be happy to help you.