Standardized Testing

STMC stands for the Standardized Test Methods Committee. This global committee formed to find and promote standardized test methods for the printer cartridge industry. The test methods are used to evaluate toner printer cartridge performance. Standardized test methods make it possible to evaluate a cartridge anywhere and come up with the same test results no matter who tests it. Standardized tests do not specify how a cartridge must perform; they only measure it.


ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), is an independent, organization of volunteers that work under very strict rules that force objectivity to write test methods. STMC and ASTM are not the same. The STMC has accepted several ASTM International test methods as well as ISO, ISTA, and ANSI test methods.


A company that is STMC certified is one that has had their employees successfully trained by an authorized trainer in these test methods, attests to using these test methods, and has purchased the correct test equipment. The authorized trainers have taken a training session by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and have passed a written exam with a score of 80% or higher. There are only 10 authorized trainers in addition to Dr. John Wyhof, SCC, and Lester Cornelius, OTC. The trainer will send a letter stating that the company employee(s) have successfully completed the training and also has proven they have the test equipment. The Int’l ITC maintains a list of certified companies.


Those trainers have a certificate that is good for two years that is signed by the STMC, RIT, and the Int’l ITC. It is an honor to be one of these trainers. The industry owes these trainers and their companies a debt of gratitude. They volunteer their time to train other companies and this is done without regard for competition. They are not paid, but they can be reimbursed for expenses.


Components are not STMC certified. Vendors can use the test methods in their test cartridges and provide the results to potential buyers, but that does not make the purchaser STMC certified. Certified companies can use that in their literature. Uncertified companies cannot use STMC in their marketing literature and packaging without breaking copyright laws. The STMC will seek to stop companies from unlawful use of STMC. We must do that to maintain the integrity of the STMC process.


Some vendors are stating that they test according to ASTM and that is how they evaluate their products. STMC uses certain ASTM test methods, such as ASTM F 1856 for yield, and ASTM F 2036 for image density and background. Neither of these tests is used to evaluate toner, drums, PCRs, mag sleeves, etc. The test methods are used to evaluate a finished cartridge in comparison to another cartridge, typically an OEM cartridge.


There is certainly value in vendors using STMC test methods to evaluate their products in cartridges but that does not mean you will get the same results unless you process your cartridges in exactly the same way. That includes cleaning, disassembly, reassembly, all of the same components, and the same printer. Vendors are certainly encouraged to test their products according to the standardized test methods, but purchasers should be aware of the potential for fraud. The STMC is not a police organization. In general, it relies on the honesty of those that use the test methods.


There are state contracts that will only be awarded to STMC certified companies. There are even private contracts that will only be awarded to STMC certified companies. The lists of certified companies will be placed on the Int’l ITC web site and is available to printer cartridge purchasers.


The bottom line is that every printer cartridge remanufacturer is encouraged to become certified to make our industry stronger and more quality and value conscious.