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Frequently Asked Questions About Aftermarket Print Cartridges

A skepticism concerning the performance and reliability of aftermarket cartridges is perfectly understandable. Many have never used third party cartridges before, and have only heard the horror stories that printer manufacturers are fond of telling in an attempt to delegitimize the aftermarket industry. Or, some may have had a bad experience with a disreputable vendor who was peddling poor products. Whatever the case may be, aftermarket cartridges have proven to deliver reliable results comparable to the original and produce a yield that matches or exceeds that of the original counterpart, all while saving you money on the most expensive aspect of any office supply budget – ink and toner. In this article we address the concerns of the skeptical consumer.

Q: Will my printer warranty be voided by using third-party ink or toner?

A: Absolutely not. Under the Manguson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act, your consumer rights are protected by United States law in such a way that your device warranty must be honored, even if you used third-party consumables. It is up to the manufacturer to prove that third-party consumables caused the damage to the printer. No company can deny you service or a refund that would otherwise be covered by your warranty program simply because you used a compatible product.

Q: I see some aftermarket cartridges listed as “remanufactured” and others called “compatible.” What’s the difference?

A: A remanufactured cartridge is one that has been through one lifecycle before it is cleaned, the electrical circuitry tested to make sure it can support future use and then refilled with a fresh supply of ink. Unlike a remanufactured cartridge, a compatible cartridge is one that is reverse-engineered to come as close as possible to the same specifications and performance quality as the original. Some people prefer remanufactured print cartridges for their environmental benefits, since remanufactured cartridges prevents tons of plastics and oils from slowly rotting in landfills each year. Others prefer compatible cartridges because, being built brand new, they generally come equipped with ink monitoring devices that will reflect accurate ink levels and issue a warning when the cartridge is nearly depleted.

Q: Will aftermarket cartridges produce the same amount of pages as the original?

A: Actually, it may produce more. With certain cartridges where it is feasible to supply more ink in the remanufacturing or reverse-engineering process, extra ink will be added. An in-depth look at the yield differences between original and aftermarket cartridges brought PC World to this conclusion in an article from June 23, 2008: “Our tests show that all of the third-party inks in our test group yielded more prints per cartridge – on top of costing less…” It is safe to assume that, if purchased from a reputable supplier with a generous warranty in place, that aftermarket cartridges will deliver a yield that matches or exceed that of the original.

Q: Do aftermarket cartridges perform as well as the original?

A: Quality will differ between suppliers. Some suppliers won’t take the time to fully remanufacture their product, preferring instead to inject some ink into an empty cartridge, hoping someone will be attracted to the low price. Also, some vendors won’t take the time to fully test their products. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from aftermarket suppliers that don’t offer a warranty. If they do, you can usually expect results that are comparable to the original. The image and photo quality may not be as vibrant as the printer brand, but if you’re not planning on framing or presenting your image print outs to your boss, you can still get solid quality and get it for a fraction of the cost of the original.

Q: Are refill kits a better option than aftermarket cartridges?

A: That comes down to your personal printing preferences and your budget. Refill kits are the best choice for those looking to save even more on cartridge consumable, as well as those who want to do more to reduce their carbon footprint. But, the quality of these, especially when it comes to images, will be poorer than remanufactured and compatible cartridges. However, if you don’t print much, have no need to print out graphics and photos, then a refill kit may be the perfect choice for you.

If you’ve been curious about aftermarket cartridges, give them a try. Unless you’re printing for professional purposes, the quality will serve you just as well as the original. Of course, besides the environmental benefits associated with remanufactured cartridges, the cost-saving aspect of third-party cartridges is the most compelling reason to try them. Using ink and toner from a reputable supplier of aftermarket supplies will greatly reduce your printing costs.