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Home > Types of Printer Cartridges

Types of Printer Cartridges

Printer cartridges can be divided into two main groups: inkjet cartridges / ink cartridges for inkjet printers and laser toner cartridges for laser printers.  However, these printer cartridges can be further categorized into 3 types, namely OEM cartridges, compatible cartridges and remanufactured cartridges.  Also read 10 myths about compatible / remanufactured cartridges.


OEM cartridges have been in the market since the very beginning.  OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.  They are also known as Genuine OEM cartridges and are produced by the printer manufacturers or their licensed partners.  These printer cartridges carry the names of the printer manufacturers, such as Canon, Epson, Lexmark, etc.  Although these ink or toner cartridges are generally of high quality, they are also very expensive.  Several copies of OEM replacement cartridges can actually cost more than a low-price printer these days.


Compatible cartridges are specially manufactured to meet or exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specifications, offering the same quality and reliability of OEM cartridges.  However, they are manufactured by third-party manufacturers and do not carry the printer brand names on the cartridges.

Compatible cartridges are only sold at 1/2 or 1/3 of the price of OEM cartridges.  Therefore, they are cost-effective alternatives to expensive OEM cartridges. 100% compatible cartridges mean that these cartridges include all the components (e.g. replacement chips) so that they are fully compatible with the specific printer models.  Replacement cartridges that are not 100% compatible are available at a lower price but they may cause problems in printing.  For example, compatible cartridge without a new replacement chip may have problem communicating with the printer as the printer software would think that the ink / toner is always low.

Most compatible inkjet cartridges are manufactured 100% brand new, containing only new components.  Compatible toner cartridges may include both new and used components unless otherwise stated.


Remanufactured cartridges are also called refurbished cartridges.  They are OEM or third party manufacturer's inkjet and toner cartridges which have been through one cycle of service and have been recharged. Every remanufactured cartridge has to be thoroughly cleaned, worn out parts replaced, filled with the same ink formulation, and gone through vigorous testing. 

Remanufactured cartridges are cheaper than OEM cartridges but  more expensive than compatible cartridges.  They are very popular among environmentally concerned customers. Considering that it takes 3 quarts of oil to produce a new toner cartridge and hundreds of year to decompose an old one in landfill, remanufactured ink / toner cartridges are both environmentally friendly and cost effective. 













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