Compatible vs. original ink cartridges

If you’ve been shopping for a new printer cartridge recently, you may have been scratching your head in confusion at the different types on offer.

One of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to invest in a compatible or genuine ink cartridge.

But you don’t have to worry because we are here to help and explain the differences between compatible and original ink and help you choose the ink that best suits your needs.

Compatible vs Original cartridges

The difference between compatible and genuine ink depends on the cartridges in which the ink is made available to consumers.

They have genuine or original cartridges from the same brand that made your printer and these tend to be more expensive. These are sometimes referred to as OEM, Original Equipment Manufacturer, which simply means that the manufacturer of the cartridge also made the printer.

As you might have guessed, compatible cartridges are provided by a third party. They should match your printer as long as you choose the right one, and may be a bit cheaper to buy.

If you boil it down, it’s the difference between buying an HP cartridge made by HP for your HP printer, or buying another company’s ink cartridge for your HP printer.

Is compatible ink as good as original ink?

As long as you buy your compatible cartridges from a reputable source, they should be just as valid as genuine cartridges. The only difference between them is whether the company that made the printer made the cartridge or not.

A manufacturer can make more profit with original cartridges. Because the manufacturers have invested so much in the research and development of their products, they need to make their money back somehow.

Manufacturers of compatible cartridges, on the other hand, don’t have the same research and development costs at stake. This means they can charge lower prices.

Do compatible ink cartridges damage printers?

A hand using a printer's touch screen

In short, no, compatible ink cartridges will not damage printers. However, it seems to be a myth about this, which is why some people continue to buy the cartridges directly from their printer’s manufacturer.

Even so, you should exercise caution, as when shopping, if the price of a compatible cartridge seems too good to be true. Only buy from reputable sources otherwise you may end up purchasing an inferior compatible cartridge which may affect your printer due to its inferior quality. Stick to good quality cartridges and your printer will be fine.

Some users may be concerned that using a compatible cartridge might void your printer’s warranty. Normally, using a cartridge of this type shouldn’t affect your warranty, but to be on the safe side, check your printer’s terms and conditions.

It’s always worth checking what type of cartridges a printer accepts before you buy. Some manufacturers have prevented their customers from using compatible cartridges by putting chips in their original cartridges. Your printer will only accept these cartridges and will not recognize any compatible cartridges, locking users into the manufacturer’s cartridges and ink.

For example, Canon announced in January that it would sell chip-free cartridges to help customers use its products while the company tried to cope with the global chip shortage. The chips are said to transmit information such as toner levels to confirm that the toner is a genuine Canon product. The company has released workaround instructions for bypassing DRM warnings and installing the new chipless cartridges.

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