Genuine Vs Aftermarket: What's the Big Difference?

Genuine Vs Aftermarket: What's the Big Difference? main image Genuine Vs Aftermarket: What's the Big Difference? image
You may have heard the term before, but what exactly is an aftermarket cartridge? In this article we give a easy to understand explanation of the different types as well as breaking down some of the common myths.

What’s the difference between name brand printer cartridges and other third-party ink alternatives?

If you’ve shopped for printer ink or toner online, you’ll know that there are a few different cartridge options available. By far, the most familiar cartridges are name brand cartridges, also known as original cartridges or OEM cartridges. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) printer cartridges are cartridges designed and built by the same manufacturer as your printer.

Remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges, on the other hand, are built by and available from a third-party manufacturer, often for far less than the average name brand cartridge. Sometimes referred to as “aftermarket” or “generic” printer cartridges, remanufactured and compatible cartridges have been around for years and yet there are still many printer users that aren’t familiar with these affordable alternatives.

We’ll break down the differences of all three cartridge types in this article, so you can make a smart buy the next time you are shopping for ink or toner.




First, some background…

It’s no secret that printer cartridge replacements can be one of the most expensive parts of owning a printer. Many can end up costing more than the price of the machine, leaving customers with a pricey printing bill every time they need to replace their ink. Not surprisingly, this business model is nothing new. Razor manufacturers perfected this sales approach years ago, where they made a profit off selling razor handles for cheap, only to charge a premium for the blades that go with the handle. Most printer manufacturers follow a similar model with their lower end printers, selling the printer at a loss, while making up for it with cartridge price. In response, viable alternatives have popped up in the shaving industry and the same is true with printing industry. Alternative printer cartridge options have grown to be a competitive and reliable solution for consumers looking to save on printer costs.

Inkspot has sold remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges for over 13 years and we still have customers regularly asking us about the difference between our products and the name brand. It’s clear that their affordable cost makes them an enticing alternative, but what are you getting for that value? Here, we dive into all of the most common questions, including:

  • What are the differences between name brand, remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges?
  • Are remanufactured and compatible cartridges just as reliable as the name brand?
  • Will I get the same page yield and print quality as a name brand cartridge?
  • Are remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges easy to install?
  • If I use a remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge, will it void my warranty?

Let’s start with the differences!


Name Brand (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Printer Cartridges

These are cartridges that are made by your printer manufacturer. Each cartridge series is designed for a specific group of printers. Printer manufacturers spend a lot of money on research and development of their printers and their cartridges, which adds to the cost of the cartridges themselves. Name brand cartridges are generally more expensive than aftermarket cartridges and sometimes the only option if your printer is new to market or uncommon.


Remanufactured Printer Cartridges

A remanufactured cartridge is a name brand cartridge that has gone through one cycle of use. After a cartridge has been used, it is recycled, picked up by a remanufacturing facility and professionally remanufactured. These cartridges use the same shell as a name brand cartridge so they will often look very similar to the OEM product. During the remanufacturing process, the cartridge is disassembled, extensively cleaned, tested for quality, and any worn or damaged internal components are replaced. The cartridge is then carefully reassembled, refilled with ink or toner to the same yield as a name brand cartridge, tested again and brought back to life. Remanufactured printer cartridges cost less than the name brand because they do not require as many new components to create a finished, working product. By using the original shell and most of the original internal parts, manufacturing costs remain low and the savings are passed onto the customer. If you’ve purchased a printer that is new to the market, it may take some time for a remanufactured cartridge option to become available for your machine. Since remanufactured cartridges rely on recycled name brand cartridges, manufacturers have to wait until there is a large enough pool of OEMs to pull from to produce a remanufactured version. Buying remanufactured cartridges are better for the environment too, preventing one less cartridge from ending up in a landfill.


Compatible Printer Cartridges

A compatible cartridge is a brand new printer cartridge built by a manufacturer other than your printer's. Most are uniquely designed to differentiate from their name brand counterpart but despite any structural differences, the cartridge will still fit in your machine and print the same number of pages, just like an OEM cartridge. It is similar to buying the generic version of a name brand product, such as generic brand medication at your pharmacy. With a compatible cartridge provider you get a brand new alternative product, without sacrificing quality. Additionally, compatible manufacturers don’t have the added research and development costs or frequent firmware technology updates, allowing them to keep cartridge prices low. 



Are remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges just as reliable as the name brand?

Yes, most are just as reliable as the name brand, but do your research before settling on a particular cartridge provider. With any secondary market, there is a lot of competition and varying degrees of quality. Search for “compatible printer cartridges” on Google and you’ll find dozens of competing brands and price points. Often times the cheaper the cartridge, the cheaper the quality. Higher priced aftermarket cartridges are typically produced by established suppliers with better quality parts, providing more consistent print results.

Either way, both cartridge types will work seamlessly with your printer and produce a high quality print. More on that below!


Will I get the same page yield and print quality as a name brand printer cartridge?

Yes, an aftermarket cartridge from a reputable supplier will print the same number of pages and offer a similar print quality as a brand name cartridge. In fact, quite often they will print more as many aftermarket cartridges only come in the high yield version, giving more prints than the standard yield OEM cartridges.

Inkspot subjects all of their cartridges to rigorous quality and reliability testing standards to ensure you receive the absolute best printing results. Keep in mind, not every printer cartridge is perfect. Every once in a while there might be a bad apple in the bunch, even with name brand cartridges, which is why you should make sure your cartridges are backed by a strong guarantee. At Inkspot, we take pride in the quality of our cartridges which is why we offer a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.


Are remanufactured and compatible printer cartridges easy to install?

Aftermarket cartridges will install seamlessly in your printer, just like a name brand cartridge. As mentioned previously, remanufactured cartridges use the same shell as the name brand, so the installation process is essentially going to be identical to installing an OEM cartridge. Similarly, despite a slightly different cartridge design, compatible cartridges are carefully designed to work with your printer and be installed the exact same way.


If I use a remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge, will it void my printer’s warranty?

The short answer is, no! A printer warranty cannot be voided if you choose to use a remanufactured or compatible printer cartridge. You can’t be denied service or a refund that would otherwise be covered under a warranty program simply because you use an aftermarket product. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010:

“if a part is ‘non-genuine’ but interchangeable with a ‘genuine part’, then the non-genuine part would still be seen as fit for purpose, and would therefore not void any manufacturer’s guarantee/warranty…”.

Despite this, many printer manufacturers will try and use this as a scare tactic to push you towards the more expensive OEM cartridges.


Now that you’ve learned a bit about the differences between name brand and aftermarket cartridges, you can make a great buy for your machine. Remanufactured and compatible cartridges from Inkspot are an easy way to save on printing costs, giving you the quality and reliability you need at budget friendly prices. Happy printing!


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