Attack Of The Clones: How Clone Toner Cartridges Assault Your Printer
Posted by Rob Errera on 10/23/2018
In Star Wars: Episode II — Attack Of The Clones, an army of evil clones threatens the entire galaxy. In real life, clone toner cartridges threaten the functionality and longevity of your home or office laser printer.
What Are Clone Cartridges?
Clone toner cartridges look nearly identical to OEM toner cartridges. They appear to have the same shape, build, and components as genuine OEM original toner cartridges, but they are sold at a fraction of the price of originals.
Cheap, Cheap, Cheap
Why are clone cartridges so inexpensive? The parts may look the same, but they’re cheaper. Seals are not as secure, and fittings are not as precise. There is no quality control, consistency, or oversight to the production of clone toner cartridges. And, perhaps most importantly, the makers of clone toner cartridges didn’t pay for the hours of research and development that went into the technology behind each model and brand of toner cartridge. They steal that intellectual property and reproduce it cheaper. Even if no actual patent violation takes place, the result is clone toner cartridges that look similar, but don’t work as well as genuine OEM cartridges.
Clones vs. Counterfeits vs Remanufactured
- Clone cartridges shouldn’t be confused with counterfeit or remanufactured cartridges. Clone cartridges usually have the words “compatible with” somewhere on the packing.
- Remanufactured cartridges are OEM toner cartridges than have been cleaned and refilled by a third party. Remanufactured cartridges may exhibit worn components and are often re-filled with non-OEM toner.
- Counterfeit toner cartridges are marketed as OEM originals but are actually built by a third party. Labels and packages are faked to appear like OEM originals.
How To Spot A Fake
- Price — This is the big tip-off. If the price of your genuine OEM toner cartridge seems too good to be true, it probably is. Clone and counterfeit cartridges might draw you in with low prices, but they usually end up costing up to 50% more in the long run due to poor performance.
- Packaging — Look for the brand name on the package. If it’s not there, you’ve got a problem. Even if it is, look for the security tag to verify its authenticity.
- Product — Examine your toner cartridge. Compare it to the original OEM toner that you’re replacing. Look for differences in the color, shape, and labeling.
The quality of clone cartridges is often very low. Not only is the image quality notably less than OEM pages, clone toner cartridges often produce less than half the number of promised pages. By comparison OEM toner cartridges are tested for quality and undergo stringent yield testing to ensure they produce their advertised page yield.
Brand New, Doesn’t Work
Many clone cartridges won’t print at all. A study commissioned by HP found nearly 73% of clone toner cartridges failed during use, often right of the box. Worse yet, clone cartridges are known to cause printer malfunctions. No matter how cheap they are, you’re not saving any money with cloned cartridges if they don’t work and/or leave you with a broken printer!
Most clone toner cartridges end up in landfills since their manufacturers don’t have a recycling program or any process for returning used cartridges. Clone cartridges often emit higher-than-tolerable levels of styrene and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), all of which has a negative impact on indoor air quality and your health.
OEM — Toner’s Gold Standard
The toner used in OEM cartridges is far superior to that used in clones and is specifically formulated for use with that specific brand of printer. This produces nearly 50% more usable pages with a far higher print quality.
Clone cartridges may seem like a bargain at first glance. It’s hard to say no a $100 toner cartridge selling for $15. But when you consider the number of sub-standard pages, wasted toner, and defective cartridges, the you’ll see that clone toner cartridges are no bargain at all.
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