OEM vs Remanufactured vs Compatible: What’s the difference?

Shopping for printer supplies can be confusing. With countless printer models, part numbers, and product naming schemes, it can be difficult to navigate through the arbitrary fluff and get what you need. Add in aftermarket supplies and you’ve got a perfect recipe for mishmash. Many users think remanufactured and compatible cartridges are the same thing, but there is a difference. Let’s explore this by defining OEM, remanufactured, and compatible toner cartridges.

1. OEM:
These are toner cartridges developed and manufactured by the Original Equipment Manufacturer are aptly categorized as “OEM” products. These are your Lexmark, HP, Dell, InfoPrint and what-have-you toner cartridges. They are also commonly referred to as “original” and “genuine” supplies.

2. Remanufactured:
A remanufactured toner cartridge is a used OEM cartridge that has been disassembled, cleaned, prepped, and rebuilt with new or reconditioned parts. It is distinct from “compatible” cartridges because it is built using the empty core of the OEM cartridge. Print.Save.Repeat. toner cartridges fall into this category.

3. Compatible:
Lastly, compatible cartridges are not built using OEM empty cores, but are manufactured from scratch. Compatible cartridges are not typically built in the US and are often imported from overseas. Although the cheapest, they tend to have the most quality issues.

After unpacking these definitions, it’s important to note that not all companies list their products clearly. For instance, some listings show “compatible” to specify compatibility with certain printers even though it is a remanufactured product.

We hope this helps! As always, if you have any questions about compatibility or aftermarket printer supplies, you can call us at 800-587-1173 and we’d love to chat.

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