Sourcing cheap consumables is one of the most common tactics businesses use to save money. Many are lured by the cheaper shelf price and promises of ‘compatibility’ with their printer or copier.
But non-genuine toners, inks and cartridges can cost you more in the long run. The lower page yield, susceptibility to damage and leakage, machine downtime and loss of productivity — not to mention the lasting damage to your device — can all make non-genuine toners a more expensive and costly long-term option.
What’s the difference?
Genuine supplies, also known as OEM supplies (original Equipment Manufacturer), are made by the company that designed and built your printer. So if you own an HP printer, then the official HP branded cartridges are the genuine supplies for your printer. Non-genuine, or generic supplies are built by a third-party supplier to be ‘compatible’ with certain printers.
Surely compatible means compatible?
Yes, but compatible does not mean quality. Or reliability. It only means that it should allow you to print from a specified device.
Non-genuine supplies are often recycled from a used ink cartridge, with parts and inks replaced by lower quality substitutes. Some non-genuine toners and cartridges are built new but are made from lower quality components and inks.
Using non-genuine toner can actually be bad for your printer. Its toner powder particles are different to genuine toners and can cause more printer jams and paper burns, which can ultimately damage the printer’s engine. And with inconsistent size of particles, non-genuine toners also lead to print-quality failures, such as vertical lines and blurred images.
Perhaps the most common issues with non-genuine toner is when the drum wiper or cleaning blade has not been replaced and the resulting printout is unacceptable as per this example. The only way to remedy this is to replace the whole toner with a new one or if the printer uses a separate drum unit then clean it thoroughly and then replace the toner.
Another very common problem with generic toners is leaking toner powder. This is a huge issue and can cause major problems with your printer if not fixed. Once the toner leaks onto the drum unit and then onto pinch rollers etc then your printer will need some major repairs. Cleaning can be done with compressed air once the toner has been removed. Often the drum will need a thorough cleaning to make sure the toner is completely removed.
The fuser unit of the toner is what melts the toner powder into the fibre of the paper. This is achieved by a combination of pressure and very high temperatures. Temperature is controlled by a thermostat which prevents overheating. Often in a generic toner the fuser is already half worn out and after a short period of time it may malfunction.
Fusers can often become marked or damaged such as in this image. This is an extreme case, however, they do break down and print quality deteriorates rapidly.
Given the upfront investment of purchasing your print hardware, you want to ensure that it’s working at peak performance. So it’s important that your ongoing investment in consumables is one that is given due consideration.