Original Cartridges Vs. Remanufactured Toner and Ink Cartridges

Quite often our customers ask us questions about remanufactured cartridges. What are they? Do they work? Do they provide the same page yield as the original? Do they damage the printer? Can they void the manufacturer's warranty?

To provide an answer to these questions, let us explain a bit about the different types of cartridges: original, remanufactured, refilled, recycled, compatible and generic.


Original cartridges are manufactured by the maker of the equipment you purchased (i.e. Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Xerox, Lexmark). They are usually manufactured using a combination of new and recycled parts at factories throughout the world. For example, on the box of an HP C4127X you can read: "This newly manufactured product may contain parts and materials recovered from the HP Planet Partners recycling program" and on the box of a Canon FX-4: "This cartridge may contain reconditioned parts and remolded materials."

One important reason they carry the denomination of "original" is because they are manufactured by the holder of the patents that make it illegal for anybody else to manufacture these products brand new (plastic mold and all) or representing them as brand new. However, sometimes it is possible to have more than one original brand for a given machine. This happens when a particular manufacturer has purchased or licensed a printer engine from another company. For example, let's say Company A wants to market printers but does not have particular experience or design available. They can license the printer design and technology from Company B and be ready to market in a short time compared to the time and costs associated with new development. Company A would then "wrap" their own cover, software, and other branding elements around Company B's design and they have a new printer to release. In most cases, Company A would also license the supply design or purchase the supplies directly from Company B. In some cases companies make slight modifications to the supply design so they would not be compatible or equivalent. In many cases they do not, making the supplies from Company A the same as the supplies from Company B. Generally these supplies would have different prices depending on different cost structures and marketing strategy of Company A and B.

Examples like this one are common in our industry. In browsing our electronic catalog you will see this happening a number of times. This is where our unique cross-referencing database comes in. Our database contains printer engine compatibility and cross-referencing information that allows us to present to you the most economical solution for your equipment.


When it comes to remanufactured cartridges, the answers are not as black and white as we would like them to be. Companies throughout the world use different approaches and quality standards in remanufacturing products. Let us introduce a little bit of terminology to clarify this point.

• Recycled Cartridges

The term "Recycled" is a generic term that does not necessarily refer to the process or technology used to manufacture a product. It obviously indicates that the cartridge is not a new original cartridge but it has been produced reusing some parts and material from previously used products. In other words, any cartridge that has been produced using parts and material recovered from previously used products can earn the name of "Recycled", regardless of the process or technology used.

• Refilled Cartridges

We use the term "Refilled" to indicate a remanufacturing process that consists mainly of gaining access to the toner or ink container of a cartridge (sometimes puncturing a hole, sometimes partially disassembling the cartridge) and refilling it with new ink or toner. In most cases that is all that is done to the cartridge aside from inspecting it for obvious flaws and cleaning it. This is the process used by many small remanufacturing companies doing business mainly in their local area. They mostly deliver personally and collect empty cartridges at the same time. This simplified remanufacturing process gives these companies the ability to price their products lower than many competitors that sell remanufactured cartridges.

By now you may be asking: "well, what's wrong with that?" Well, a cartridge has many components inside other than toner. To name a few, there is the magnetic roller that collects and distribute the toner; the photoconductor unit or drum that transfers the image on the paper; the wiper blade that removes excess toner from the drum; and many other gears and parts that are subject to wear and tear. To rework a cartridge this way is quite inexpensive but its quality and reliability are also uncertain. Many components in a cartridge have an inherent ability to last longer than the toner amount originally provided, but they are certainly not certified for twice the duty cycle or more! Many people that experienced problems with remanufactured cartridges and lost their faith in them have been using refilled cartridges without knowing these facts. So, when the price seems quite low compared to other remanufactured cartridges, ask questions and make sure you compare apples to apples.

• Remanufactured Cartridges

Remanufactured cartridges are the types of cartridges we sell at Laser Connection. A remanufactured cartridge is a cartridge that has been:

  • Completely disassembled
  • All components inspected, separated and cleaned
  • New drum installed
  • New wiper blade installed
  • New magnetic roller installed
  • Toner container filled with new toner to original specifications
  • Toner container sealed with pull-out strip to prevent leakage
  • Cartridge reassembled and tested on proper equipment
  • These cartridges are in effect rebuilt from the ground up to give you, our customer, the same quality and reliability you are accustomed to for your valuable equipment. No skimping or half-dones.


Compatible means that the cartridge will work with the specified equipment even though it is not made by the manufacturer of the equipment in question. In most cases this situation exists when the manufacturer of the original equipment does not have a patent on the design of the supplies or that patent expired. As with generic prescriptions, this allows manufacturers of generic supplies to make brand new compatible or generic cartridges. Examples of these are many ribbons for dot matrix printers, as well as many Canon ink cartridges. In our highly competitive and ever changing market, there are companies that will label remanufactured cartridges as compatible. It is hard to tell in all cases, but as a guide, here is a list of products where you can expect compatible or generic supplies to be available: copier toner, printer ribbons, fax ribbons and film, and Canon inkjet cartridges. Most HP, Lexmark, Canon, and Xerox laser toner cartridges can only be remanufactured.


Laser Connection believes you have a right to use whatever you choose for your equipment. That's why we carry both original, remanufactured, and compatible supplies. We further believe that you have a right to know exactly what you are purchasing and that's why we clearly label and mark all compatible and remanufactured products. Unfortunately there are companies that will let you believe you are purchasing original cartridges when in actuality they sell you remanufactured or recycled products. If the price seems too good to be true for an original product, it is probably not an original product. If it does not come in the manufacturer's original packaging, it is NOT the original.

Original manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Xerox, Lexmark, etc. do not sell at heavily discounted prices only to certain companies or distributors. They mostly sell at the same prices across the board. They do not sell their products in bulk or generic packaging to anybody. Their trademarks and brands are very valuable assets. When someone claims to have a "special" deal that affords them such low prices, they are hiding something from you. Some companies do not even clearly label their products as remanufactured or compatible. When the price seems too low, ask directly: "are these products original from the manufacturer or are they remanufactured or compatible in any way?" You have a right to know and they have the responsibility to tell you. If they fail to properly disclose this, do not do business with them but report their unfair business practices to us. We will make sure that the original manufacturer gets alerted.

Ultimately, Laser Connection believes that, when properly used, remanufactured and compatible products play a vital role in your office equipment supply strategy. They can lower your overall cost of ownership, keep prices in check for original products, help small businesses, and help the environment. If you have not used remanufactured products before, or if you have used them and were disappointed, we suggest you give our brand a try. Select a business machine that is not mission critical for you and purchase a remanufactured cartridge plus an original for backup in case you are not happy with the results (we know this will not happen but you do not yet!) When you see that our products are reliable, you can gradually switch to remanufactured products.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We hope it will help you become a better-informed buyer. If you have any further questions or comments please email us at info@laserconnection.com or call us toll-free at 1-888-527-3706. We are always happy to hear from you.