Office Document Strategies Blog

Photocopier & Printer Toner OEM or Compatible

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 @ 07:08 AM

There is a constant pitch in the photocopier industry for end users to be sure that they work with OEM (original equipment manufacturer) approved toner in their devices.  There are some obvious reasons why this is the case.

Before you read further if you would like to see how a photocopier works here's an interesting video.

Quality is important.

Manufacturers spend a great deal of time and money trying to produce the best quality of output from their equipment.  Good copy quality is a factor in any purchase decision and is a regular issue in service activity as well.  Having control over the quality and type of toner put into the device is the only way a manufacturer has the ability to engineer their equipment for best results.

So why is there so much discussion about using compatible or remarket toners?

For some users it comes down to cost.  Compatible and remarket toners do not usually cost as much per cartridge as OEM.  The engineering to copy a toner is less than to invent and design the capability, thus a price advantage can be found.  Also, often specific compatible toners are not created for each brand or device, but more generic versions are created.

For other users it is to exercise a sense of freedom or choice...I'm not going to be dictated to for what toner I buy.

So is it risky to use non OEM toners like the manufacturers claim?

There is definately some risk involved. If the photocopier or printer you have acquired has some specific capabilities built into the OEM toner which enhance the performance of the device there is no guarantee that a non-OEM toner will include these features.

Here's what is presented as an argument by one manufacturer, Kyocera, for ensuring you get best value with OEM toner.  Every manufacturer has similar explanations for why their OEM toner is the right choice.

Sometimes I wonder why people who spend as much as they do on a multifunction copier or printer get quite so concerned over saving a few pennies on toner.  I wonder if the same people drive all over to find a Brand X gas station to put fuel in their expensive cars without having any real knowledge of what the quality of the gas they are buying might be.

Don't misunderstand me. I am aware that for many years HP realized the bulk of its profits out of selling consumables for the printers they sold and that the residual income provided by toner revenues is important to print device manufacturers thus giving them a vested interest in keeping as much of the market as they can.  On the other hand taking the chance to affect the capabilities and warranty of a ten or fifteen thousand dollar device to save twenty or thirty dollars on the toner cost does not always seem prudent.

In the end, unless you have decided to enter into a toner included support contract or managed print agreement for your device(s) you will have to choose which toner you will deploy, OEM or an after market choice.  Of course, you also have to be careful in who you choose to buy from as well....there are certainly some toner pirates out there who look to rip you off, not supply you with the best value in product.

Do you use OEM toner and see value? Are you drawn to the lower price of compatible or remarket toners?  How about grey market toners?

Share your thoughts below....

Lee K

Button for Printer Support Plans

Video Credit: William S. Hammack [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Topics: Copier, Multifunction Printer, toner, Copier, toner pirates, Multifunction Printer support