Printer Toner Cartridges
Is there any future for remanufactured printer toner cartridges?
The 21 st century is a confusing place at the best of times, but spending more on a replacement toner cartridge than you originally spent on the printer (cartridge included) defies all logic. Of course this is no accident, but the outcome of a very shrewd marketing philosophy dreamt up by the Original Equipment Manufacturers to protect their interests. By virtually giving printers away; manufactures realized that they could make hefty profits on cartridge supply; as long as they could maintain a monopoly.
However, the OEM's lucrative honeymoon period was cut short with the arrival of remanufacturing companies who could 'revive' printer toner cartridges for a fraction of the replacement cost. Everyone, from office managers to environmentalists, breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Keen to win-back lost business the OEMs launched a barrage of lawsuits. However, when the results weren't as expected (thanks to the intricacies of copyright and competition law) the OEMs began to fight dirty. Strategies designed to put an end to independent toner cartridge remanufacturing include the following:
'Self destructing' cartridges: There was a time when such concepts could only be found in the minds of science fiction writers and spy novelists. However, a number of cartridges now have electronic parts (typically the printer head) that are effectively 'melted' by a discharge of energy from a capacitor after the ink has run dry.
Secure assembly: Arguably the simplest way to prevent cartridge remanufacturing is to design a product that's virtually impossible to disassemble. On a practical level this means moulding a 'one-piece' casing or using complicated criss-cross welding to seal the unit together.
Smart chips: Sophisticated chips enable the toner cartridge to effectively talk to the printer; relaying all sorts of useful information (such as remaining ink levels) to the user. By assigning them a dual security function it's possible to disable a printer if a reconditioned cartridge is loaded. Users are left scratching their heads, staring at an ' Invalid Refill' message.
Admittedly it's all too easy to see the OEMs as the villains of the piece, and some would say that they are doing precious little to sway public opinion. However, a number of more socially aware manufacturers have responded to consumer demands by developing their own remanufacturing programs. The savings may be more modest than with an independent company, but it look as if remanufactured toner cartridges will be around for some time to come.