Saving money is always an important consideration for any business and never more so than in the current economic recession. Print can be a notoriously expensive resource to manage and one way in which savings can be made is by switching to compatible toners. The decision to switch can be a difficult one, though, with concerns about quality, reliability and the ever-present warranty issue. Read on to find out if compatibles are right for you…
What are compatibles?
Compatible cartridges are non-branded consumables produced by third parties, as opposed to the printer manufacturer. Examples of compatible brands you may have come across include Katun, Planitgreen, Danwood and Xerox (Xerox makes it’s own versions of other manufacturers’ toners, such as HP).
How are compatible toner cartridges made?
Some compatible cartridges are simply refilled – the casing is cracked open and refilled with new toner. Compatibles produced in this way are generally poor quality, unreliable and often lower capacity compared with branded cartridges.
Refurbished cartridges are completely stripped down and rebuilt from scratch, using reconditioned components, or brand new ones where necessary. The cartridges are reassembled to the original manufacturer’s specifications and given a full load of toner; as a result, cartridges produced in this way can be at least equal in build quality to the originals.
It should be noted that Printware sells only refurbished, not refilled, toner cartridges.
What are the advantages of using compatible toner cartridges?
The obvious advantage is cost - compatible toner cartridges are now available for a wide range of printers and can save you up to 40% compared with original, branded cartridges.
What about print quality?
Since the majority of office printing is Word documents, e-mails, invoices etc., there will be no discernible difference in quality between compatible and original cartridges. However, if you are printing high coverage images where quality is paramount, you will obtain better results from using original inks and toners.
How reliable are they?
Refilled ink and toner cartridges can be problematic. The most common malfunction is that of a cracked or "exploded" casing which consequently empties its contents into the internal workings of the printer. As mentioned previously, the volume of ink or toner can often be lower than that of the original alternative. Most remanufactured cartridges that are made in a controlled environment should be as reliable as original cartridges and will come with their own warranty.
Will using compatibles invalidate my warranty?
In a word, no; using compatible consumables in your printer will not invalidate the warranty. However any damage caused to your printer by the use of third party consumables will not be repaired under the terms of the printer’s warranty. Any claims in this instance would have to be directed to the consumables supplier. This will not affect any future claims or any claims unrelated to the use of compatible consumable items. The following is taken from the Warranty Terms and Conditions section on HP’s website:
"HP warranty extends only to HP products and options. If you install a non-HP option into your HP product and this option then fails, you must contact the supplier for warranty cover on that item.
The warranty on your HP product will not be affected by the installation of a non-HP upgrade/option unless your HP product is damaged as a result of installation and/or operation of a third party option, such damage will not be covered by HP warranty.
If your HP product is not operating correctly, you may be asked to verify that any non-HP option is not responsible for the problem by uninstalling any such items."
To Sum Things Up...
Compatible inks and toners are a sensible option for everyday use and we use them in our own "general" printers for internal documents. However, original cartridges are the better option when colours need to be accurate and quality is paramount. For this reason, we always use originals in our demo machines and for any external documents.
Compatible cartridges are covered by their own warranty and, in our experience, the toner manufacturers have been extremely helpful in sorting out any problems. There is, however, the potential for greater down time versus original cartridges, as the risk of failure and the average the time taken to make a warranty claim will be higher. With this in mind, it may be worth sticking with original toners in business critical machines.
The decision on whether to save money by purchasing compatible consumables is entirely yours; Printware sells both original and compatible cartridges but we do not refill cartridges or sell refilled cartridges. All the compatibles we sell are manufactured to the highest standards and our cartridges are built in an ISO 9001 certified factory, designed to at least meet the manufacturer’s specifications.
by Anthony Morgan</a>