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An OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, toner is one that’s manufactured by the company that developed your printer. For example, if you have an HP printer, the OEM toner would also be created by HP. Generally, you’ll find OEM toners are a bit more expensive, but they’re also the most precise and most capable of producing the best quality print your printer can create. In addition, the fail rate is generally lower and it’s less likely you’ll end up with a toner malfunction in your printer.
Compatible toner cartridges are toners manufactured by a third-party manufacturer. Compatible toners are also referred to as generic toners. Compatible toners have no affiliation with the original manufacturer of the printer. Compatible toner manufacturers essentially attempt to replicate the original toner design without infringing on the original manufacturer’s product patent. The process is similar to pharmaceutical companies manufacturing generic prescription drugs that are meant to mirror the original brand name drug. Like generic prescription drugs, many compatible toners are very close replicates of the original toner model, however many also are very far off from the original.
With compatible toners, although many compatible toner manufacturers are able to produce toners that tightly mirror the original model, the fact remains that you are putting a product into your printer that was not manufactured by the same manufacturer of the printer and problems can and often do arise when using compatible toners. The quality of the toner is inconsistent across different compatible models and you never truly know what you’re getting.