Know the difference between OEM, Re-manufactured, Compatible & Refilled Cartridges.

Looking at the many cartridges and supplies available for your specific printer, you might feel a little overwhelmed. Besides finding just the right cartridge for your particular printer model, you also have to choose between many different types of cartridges. OEM? Re-manufactured? Sometimes it’s hard to know what makes one cartridge different from the next. Here is a basic guide to the different types and kinds of printer cartridges, outlining the differences and benefits of OEM, re-manufactured, and compatible printer ink and toner cartridges.



You may have heard the term “OEM” used before, but what does OEM mean?

OEM refers to “original equipment manufacturer.” In other words, if HP or Canon made your printer, they’ve also made a cartridge to go with it.

No doubt about it, these high quality cartridges were designed for great durability and undeniable precision. Naturally, that translates into good print quality, but all of that comes at a much higher price. The obvious downside is the cost.

Did you know that printers are often sold with small profit margins because OEMs know that they will make their largest profit from selling cartridges? For that reason alone, the name brand company that made your printer will claim that you may shorten the life of your printer by using generic cartridges. This is simply not true!

OEMs charge exorbitant prices for their cartridges. One of the biggest controversies surrounding OEM cartridges is how much ink is left over in the cartridge when printer models shut down due to “low ink.” Some cases have shown that 40% of the

expensive ink you paid for is left over in that ‘dead cartridge’ you are about to replace! After all, it’s common knowledge that brands don’t make their money on their printer sales, but make huge profits on new and overpriced OEM cartridges instead.


What are compatible cartridges? Compatible ink is like buying a generic car part. A separate company simply creates their own version of the cartridge to work in your printer just like the OEM cartridge.

As you might expect, some compatibles are of an inferior quality, but there are plenty of compatible printer cartridges out there that hold their ground next to their OEM counterpart. That’s why it’s so important to find a time tested provider like African Distribution and Sales, we offer only high quality compatible ink cartridges. If you however, find a faulty cartridge, we will replace it immediately with a new one.


What does “re-manufactured” mean? Re-manufactured cartridges started out as new OEM cartridges. Instead of throwing a perfectly usable and durable plastic shell away to sit in a landfill, they are refurbished.

A good re-manufacturer will disassemble, clean, and test the cartridge before replacing any worn parts and refilling the toner. As long as the refurbishing process was thorough, these will often yield similar quality to an OEM cartridge.

Unfortunately, some companies have branded their cartridges as “re-manufactured” when all they did was simply drill a hole in the shell and refill it with toner. The biggest question for these cartridges always comes back to the quality of the re-manufacturer’s work. We do not stock a lot of these type of cartridges, but will replace any faulty cartridge immediately if found.

One other advantage of using this option is that it is a ‘green’ option. By definition, this process involves recycling old cartridges rather than adding plastic waste to the environment.


As one of the cheapest options, refilled cartridges are simply injected with new toner and resold.

If the cartridge doesn’t work at all you should be able to return it, but you may also find that the cartridge stops working before the toner runs out. Once again, the risk may be worth it if the cartridge works well since these are priced far below OEM or re-manufactured cartridges.

Still, be aware that some refilled cartridges can be temperamental or even quit working altogether.


What we think

So, OEM cartridges provide the best quality, but they surely cost a pretty penny. Like any other product, you can expect a wide variety of offering to market. In this case, quality and affordability should go hand in hand for toner and ink cartridges.

Whatever your choice, asses your needs as an organization and it might be a good idea to take into account the advantages of each different type of toner and ink cartridge before purchasing.