The COVID-19 pandemic put a huge strain on businesses, to put it mildly. With uncertainty now the new normal, companies of all sizes have to be mindful of expenditures to maintain a healthy bottom line.

Office technologies are often one of the first areas to review when it comes to cost-cutting, and tech supplies such as ink and toner cartridges are often the first to suffer budget cuts.

But as managers work to conserve funds, they need to be careful not to fall into the trap of sacrificing quality for cost.

An easy pitfall is to purchase clone ink or toner cartridges as a cost-saving strategy.

But the problem is, sometimes you get what you pay for. Clone cartridges may appear to be the same as OEM and remanufactured ink or toner cartridges. But they are far more risky and could end up costing your company more in the long run.

For this reason, it is important to understand the difference between remanufactured cartridges and clones, as well as OEM cartridges.

As we explain, you’ll see how remanufactured cartridges can actually save you more in the long run.

What Is the Difference Between Clones, Remanufactured, or OEM Ink and Toner Cartridges?

Before purchasing more ink or toner cartridges for your printers, copiers, and MFPs, it’s a good idea to review exactly what you are getting. Because it can be a bit confusing, we will review the three options here so you can weigh the pros and cons of OEM cartridges, clone cartridges, and remanufactured cartridges.

OEM Cartridges

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and thus OEM cartridges are the brand-name ink or toner cartridges created by the printer companies. OEM cartridges are the most expensive ink or toner cartridges, and they are often tossed away after one use. This means they are not very economical or environmental. They are touted as being the “best” in terms of quality, but printer manufacturers have a vested interest in keeping users in their ecosystem, and do their best to discourage use of other types of ink or toner cartridges.

Clone Cartridges

Clone cartridges are replacement cartridges for printers that are usually labeled as “compatible with” on the packaging. They are marketed as replacements for OEM cartridges. On the plus side, they are a lot cheaper than OEM ink or toner cartridges. But, you are playing Russian roulette with clone cartridges. We will explain more in the next section.

Remanufactured Cartridges

Remanufactured cartridges are kind of the middle ground between OEM and clone cartridges. They offer the benefits of a lower price while carrying the high quality of the OEM cartridges, and they help the environment. This is because they are recycled from OEM ink and toner cartridges.

The Pros and Cons of Clones vs. Remanufactured Cartridges

Not all ink and toner cartridges are the same, but there is still much confusion over clones vs remanufactured cartridges. We can probably all agree that OEM cartridges are overpriced. There is nothing wrong with looking for a cheaper alternative. But if your choice is between cheaper remanufactured cartridges and clones, you’ll want to pick remanufactured cartridges every time. Here’s why:

1. Clone Cartridges Often Just Don’t Work

Clone cartridges are typically made of cheaper materials than OEM cartridges. For this reason, they often break or just don’t work at all. Some printer manufacturers also try to block non-OEM cartridges from being usable, so your clone cartridge might not work out of the box. A remanufactured OEM cartridge will not have this problem.

2. Clone Cartridges May Damage Your Printer

Since many knockoff cartridges are such poor quality, they might do more than just not work – they might break your printer. They can damage print heads or cause other problems, making them more expensive in the long run.

3. Clone Cartridges Put You at Increased Risk of Lawsuits for Patent Infringement

Clone cartridge manufacturers are often subject to patent infringement lawsuits. You may think you are immune to legal action, but you may not be if you are offering clone cartridges to clients, even unwittingly.

4. Clone Cartridges Are Still Bad for the Environment

Clone cartridges are typically not recyclable, which is a problem. Even worse, because they are often not regulated, they can emit toxins such as styrene and other particulates.

What Are the Advantages of Remanufactured Cartridges?

As you can see, the advantages of remanufactured cartridges are many. And because they can also be remanufactured as much as 3.5 times, they have far less negative impact on the environment than OEM cartridges. Yet, they deliver equal or even better performance with a vastly lower price.

Support the Remanufactured Cartridges Industry by Joining ITC

At the Imaging Technology Council (ITC), our mission is to promote the remanufacturing industry. We are a unique trade organization uniting imaging remanufacturers, suppliers, dealers, consultants and businesses. We are dedicated to keeping the imaging supplies marketplace open and competitive.

We believe remanufactured cartridges not only make good business sense, they help the environment. If you want to support this industry, please consider joining us for as little as $25 per month.

The Imaging Technology Council (ITC) is dedicated to supporting the remanufacturing of printer cartridges. As an industry organization, we enable product innovation, education, and industry longevity. Join us today.