Many printer supplies retailers offer their ‘own brand’ toner cartridges as an alternative to the original manufacturers product. Our customers often ask, how good are remanufactured toner cartridges? Are they as good as the original manufacturers’ product?

For starters, I’ll clarify the terminology used in this article…

Original manufacturers’ product or OEM – This is a cartridge that is produced by the same manufacturer as your printer. So if your printer is a HP machine, this cartridge will be made by HP. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Remanufactured toner cartridges or ‘own brand’ – These are remanufactured from previously used original toner cartridges. The empty cartridges are sent back to a remanufacturing plant, where the cartridge housing is refurbished. Most of the internal components are replaced and the cartridge is refilled with toner. These are often sold under the retailers own brand label.

Crazy claims!

Some less scrupulous websites will claim, “Our remanufactured toner cartridges exceed the OEM product”… Well, frankly this is rubbish! How can a remanufactured product exceed the original product? Whilst most of the components are replaced within the toner or drum during the recycling process, it’s still a recycled product and common sense says it can’t be better than the OEM…

Some models of remanufactured cartridges may hold more toner than the OEM and therefore print more pages, but this shouldn’t be a reason in itself to claim that it “exceeds the original”.

In every other aspect of quality and performance, you cannot claim that the remanufactured item exceeds the original. So does this mean that remanufactured toners are not a viable alternative to the original product? Not at all!

Let’s look at your printing requirements…

Do you print in mono (black only)? If you only print in mono, own brand toner is very much a match for the original. Mono printing is less demanding, especially if you are only printing text on the page.

Is your printing only used for internal communications? If this is the case, then you’ll still need a good result and own brand toner will be fit for purpose.

Do you print letters or documents for external communication purposes? If you do, and these have blocks of colour, such as a letterhead or they contain some colour images, using a good quality toner cartridge like the CartridgeMonkey ‘own brand’ will give you good results.

What if you print full colour documents, including flyers or brochures? This is trickier… I certainly know of customers that print high quality documents using a remanufactured toner but I’d always recommend that you run a small trial before producing thousands of pages of output. When it comes to the highest quality printing or where you are printing for commercial purposes, it’s a real challenge to match the consistency of colour output which you get from the original manufacturers’ product.

How about reliability?

Is the ‘own brand’ product as reliable as the original manufacturer’s product? The short answer is no. But it would be wrong not to qualify with some tangibles…

In my experience the failure rate of original toner cartridges is less than 0.5%, so 1 cartridge in 200. The failure rate for a high quality remanufactured toner is likely to be 1% on black cartridges and 3% on colour cartridges. So 2 cartridges in 200 and 6 cartridges in 200 respectively…

If you took a harsh view, you can see that the failure of a remanufactured colour cartridge is six times worse than the original. However, I’d suggest fairer analysis is that for every 200 colour cartridges you buy, you will get 5 more product failures when you choose remanufactured. Based on the average users’ usage, this is likely to be one failed cartridge every five years or so. Put this way it doesn’t seem too high, does it?

But what about the price?

One thing for sure is that a remanufactured cartridge, or own brand, will be significantly cheaper than its original counterpart. How much you save really depends on the printer that you are buying cartridges for, but it’s not unreasonable to expect to save 30% or more.

A word of warning!

Whilst there are many companies that offer high grade remanufactured cartridges, there will be a few that sell inferior products. I would suggest that you check the quality of the warranty offered for the ‘own brand’ toner before you buy. At, we are so confident of our product quality, we offer a 2 year warranty. If you are not happy with our own brand toner cartridge in anyway, we will collect the item and replace it or give you a full refund.

In summary…

The ever improving production techniques and better quality control at the leading remanufacturing plants is resulting in higher quality cartridges. Many reputable retailers, including, are playing their part to build a better perception and reputation for the ‘own brand’ toner cartridge.

In answer the original question, ‘own brand’ toner cartridges aren’t better than their OEM counterparts. However, ‘own brand’ does offer a high quality, cost effective alternative and in most print applications will do a great job for you…

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