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Inkjets. The well-kept secret that keeps the world turning, or at least keeps printers printing.

With the average US office worker going through over 10,000 sheets of paper every year, an entire industry is built on keeping your printer running.

With phrases like OEM, compatible, toner, and remanufactured, it’s easy to become confused. Isn’t ink just ink?

Yes and no.

At, we’re here to help you navigate the industry because we understand how complicated and confusing all the different terminology and technology can seem. 

So let’s take a look at the life cycle of an inkjet cartridge and see how we can help you get the most bang for your buck.

OEM, Remanufactured, Compatible… What does it all mean?

If you've spent any time online looking for the best prices on printer ink (and who hasn't?), then you're bound to have come across these terms.

But what do they actually mean?


oem definition image - short for original equipment manufactureroem definition image - short for original equipment manufacturer


OEM stands for "Original Equipment Manufacturer." This refers to the company that made your printer, such as HP, Canon, or Epson.

If you buy OEM cartridges, you're buying a brand new cartridge that's never been used before; made and sold by the big printer companies under their brand name.

While this might seem like the obvious or convenient option, it's often the most expensive.

In fact, many consumers are surprised to discover just how much money they spend on their printing after they buy their printer. The truth is, the printer itself is often priced very low to get you in the door, with the company knowing they'll make their real money on selling you the ink long after. Customers can be misled by the low price of a printer and not realize the long-term cost associated with the printer ink.

You may think that companies like Canon and HP are in the printer business. They're actually in the ink business. And business is booming.

OEM ink cartridges can often cost as much as three times more than aftermarket options, such as compatible and remanufactured ink and toner.

So, what does it mean when you see the words 'Compatible' and 'Remanufactured' referring to ink and toner cartridges?

Good question!


Compatible Ink and Toner

compatible inkjets image definitioncompatible inkjets image definition


A compatible ink or toner cartridge is a brand new cartridge made by a company other than the one who made your printer. Though it might look slightly different than the OEM cartridge, a compatible cartridge will fit perfectly into your printer and work just as well, if not better.

Since compatible cartridges are brand new, you can expect the same quality as an OEM cartridge but at a much lower price. In fact, compatible ink cartridges can cost up to 50% less than OEM cartridges!


Remanufactured Ink and Toner

remanufactured inkjets image definitionremanufactured inkjets image definition


A remanufactured (or “reman,” for short) ink or toner cartridge is a recycled OEM cartridge that has been cleaned, refilled, and tested to ensure it meets the same quality standards as a brand new OEM cartridge.

The process begins with an empty, used OEM cartridge, which is thoroughly cleaned to remove any residual ink and debris. Then, the cartridge is refilled with new ink or toner, and all moving parts are checked and replaced if necessary, including the computer chip.

After that, each cartridge undergoes a print test to ensure it meets the same standards as a brand new OEM cartridge. If it doesn’t, it’s recycled, and the process begins again.

We’ll dive a bit deeper into this process a little bit later in the article.

You Have More Options Than You Realize

The important thing to know is that as a printer customer, you're not limited to the ink and toner options you see on the shelf at the big box store. offers a huge selection of high-quality inks in our store for almost every printer available- often at enormous savings compared to the prices typically paid at the checkout of your local office supply store.

If it feels like you've been paying too much for ink, it's because you're right!

The printer companies are banking on their customers never realizing this!

Over 80% of inkjet and laser printer users pay too much for overpriced OEM ink - but they don't have to.


These costs can significantly impact the budget of small businesses, schools, or home offices- all of which are already often trying to search for the most affordable deals to save on all types of office supplies, from pens and pencils to paper types.

Many customers have found that if they shop at a traditional big box store and compare those prices with our prices, they can save over half the cost on ink just by shopping at!

Once you discover the savings of shopping at, you'll wish you started years earlier!

What About Quality? Is Aftermarket Ink As Good As OEM?