What is the Difference Between New and Remanufactured Toner Cartridges?


Did you know that printing is the third-largest office expense after salaries and rent? And what is the most easily controlled cost associated with printing? How much you spend on your toner cartridges. 

In this article, we are going to delve into two common types of toner to help you determine if you can save your business money with remanufactured toner… or if the risk is just not worth the reward. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the definition of new vs remanufactured toner cartridges, their respective pros and cons, and wrap up with our recommendation based on our experience servicing hundreds of thousands of printers.

What is a “New” Toner Cartridge

New toner is exactly that, a brand new toner cartridge directly from the factory. It has never been opened or used. Within the category of new toner cartridges, there are two sub-types, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridges and compatible cartridges.  The debate comparing OEM and compatible toner is a lengthy one so you can find our article on the topic here.

Pros and Cons of Buying a New Toner Cartridge

Buying a new toner cartridge for your device is to take the safe option. By their very nature, you know that they have never been degraded by previous use and are in the same condition as the day they left the factory. This means that they should be able to reliably produce high-quality prints for the duration of the cartridge’s estimated page yield. Most reputable manufacturers or vendors will also issue a guarantee or warranty against defective cartridges.

However, buying a new cartridge is, almost without exception, more expensive than buying remanufactured, used or refilled cartridges.

What is Remanufactured Toner?

Remanufactured toners are used toner cartridges. The empty cartridges are sent back to a remanufacturing plant, where the cartridge housing is then refurbished.  Internal components are evaluated and some may be replaced before the cartridge is refilled with new toner.  

When buying remanufactured toner you should always inquire as to whether or not the remanufacturer has “re-chipped” the cartridges.  Toner cartridges contain a chip that tracks how many print jobs have been done and is used by your device to estimate how many impressions are remaining before you need to replace your toner. 

If this chip has not been replaced your low toner warnings may not be reliable.  There is a wide range of manufacturers of remanufactured toners, some of which will offer a guarantee that their product will work, some of which will not.  

It is important to note that there is also a second type of used toner cartridge; refilled.  The main danger with refilled toner cartridges is that, while they by far the cheapest option, there is no remanufacturing process… they simply take an old toner bottle and refill it.  Since there is no actual assessment of the cartridge’s condition, we discourage all of our customers from ever considering the use of refilled toner cartridges.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Remanufactured Toner Cartridge

You may have already guessed the one major pro to using remanufactured toner cartridges, they are almost always significantly cheaper than new cartridges. 

One big downside of using a remanufactured toner cartridge is that it is almost impossible to know just how much remanufacturing any particular cartridge has undergone before refilling and therefore what kind of condition it is currently in. If all of the components are still in great shape then you may have found yourself a great bargain but most cartridges will completely fail if just one part malfunctions so it is a very real possibility that your cartridge will not last to complete your estimated page yield. 

You could also end up with the toner applied inconsistently across your prints.

The other critical con that any printer owner should be aware of is that if your MFP or copier is still under warranty, using a remanufactured cartridge may void your warranty. This varies based on manufacturer and model, so it is crucial to read the fine print on your device’s warranty before inserting that remanufactured toner.

So, Should You Use New or Remanufactured Toner Cartridges?

In order to answer the question of whether a remanufactured toner cartridge is right for you, you need to answer another question: how important is this device to my business? If you are buying toner for the office MFP upon which your entire team relies, our experience services hundreds of thousands of devices suggests you should stick to either OEM or compatible new toner cartridges.

On the other hand, if you are buying toner for a small-volume convenience device (for example a home printer), then it may well be worth it to save a few extra bucks by purchasing remanufactured. Just be sure that if you do purchase remanufactured toner that you find a reputable reseller or remanufacturer who will offer a guarantee of their product.  If they won’t provide a guarantee that they will replace a defective cartridge then they probably aren’t worth your hard-earned dollars.  

Want to talk to a human being to get some advice about your toner needs? Reach out to our supplies team! Trust me, the highlight of their day is when a customer reaches out and wants some advice on how to optimize their office supplies expenses!

Cory Porteous
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development
Office Interiors

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