How Long Should A Print Cartridge Last?

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How Long Should A Print Cartridge Last?

Posted by Dan Widdis on 2/15/2018 to News

The printer manufacturer (the OEM aka Original Equipment Manufacturer) claims the cartridge they made is the best to use in their printer, and also gives you a stated page yield – let’s say 1,200 pages, what should you expect?

First, let’s stop and take a SERIOUS look at this – the cartridge manufacturer (whoever they may be) did not specify how many days, weeks or months the cartridge should last – they specifically stated it as “page yield” – this means approximately* how many PAGES you might be able to print with their cartridge.

*The reason I used the word ‘approximately’ is because this is an ESTIMATE, not a GUARANTEED result that you should expect! Page yields are established based on printing 5% coverage on a page – this is the industry standard used by all OEMs to generate a page yield. 5% coverage is the equivalent of a 4.67 square inch block of color printed on your page – or if you took all the ink used to create all the letters on your page and put it all together in one spot it would be about the same size as 5 regular postage stamps. Whether the OEM uses liquid ink, powdered toner or solid ink wax† they know how much it takes to create a 5% block of coverage on a standard 8-1/2 x 11 in piece of paper and then based on how much ink, toner or wax constitutes a full “cartridge” they can approximate how many pages a cartridge could print… IF you printed only 5% coverage on a page.
†Solid ink cannot be remanufactured, it has no housing and once it is used it is on the paper, excess goes into a waste tray and is thrown away (all mixed colors like a box of melted crayons). After-market compatibles should be designed to mate perfectly with the printer’s internal workings and ink composition should be manufactured in such a way as to meet OEM yields.

Where our ACTUAL page yield varies is based on what WE put on a piece of paper. You may print BOLD on most of your page – and be extremely wordy – you will also use more ink doing so. You may print pictures along with your text – that will also use more ink. You may print borders or other images with lots of text for descriptions, etc., etc., etc. – at no point is the ink free, nor can you print 15% coverage on every page and still expect to get 1,200 pages… at that point you may only get about 400 pages, and rightly so, after-all you used 3X as much ink as the next person.

So, why do you get more “days” out of one cartridge than another – did someone cheat you? No, it’s doubtful… it’s more likely that either you or someone else using that printer used more or less ink on any given day than you think. Remember that day you printed 25 beautiful full-color pages describing the upcoming lady’s night out, or that golf tournament for the company, or the family reunion flyer? Yeah, well each of those probably had more like 75% coverage so those 25 pages used as much ink as if you printed 375 letters for your boss! NOW do you understand why your cartridge only printed less than 900 pages?! You didn’t have a defective cartridge – you had a defective memory!

So now you wonder what’s the difference between the “A, X, XL, and XXL” cartridge – do they have MORE ink/toner in them, or are they larger for bigger printers? The answer is simple – they have MORE ink/toner in them. For example, the “A” cartridge may be rated for 1,200 pages, the “X” might be rated for 1,900 pages, the “XL” might be rated for 2,500 pages and the “XXL” might be rated for 4,000 pages. And now you’re wondering of course how do they get so much more ink in the XXL cartridge than the A cartridge – since they’re the same size… right? Well to put it simply, the “A” cartridge is filled like a bag of potato chips – mostly air with a little bit of product in the bottom of the bag! Generally speaking, there’s typically a LOT of extra room inside a cartridge for more ink/toner, after-all it’s not like potato chips… you don’t have to worry about breaking the product in the package!

For this reason some after-market companies will make an “X” or “XL” cartridge when the OEM only makes an “A” size for your printer – they’re just taking advantage of empty space in the cartridge to meet client demands. CAUTION: You MUST know the source of your ink/toner is a legitimate dealer if you’re going to buy their own brand of extended yield cartridges!! Just because a cartridge is packed in a box that says “X, XL or XXL” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get more ink/toner – in FACT that is a common ploy of the Toner Pirate (click the link to read our article) to sell you something! There are plenty of legitimate companies who will convert a cartridge into an extended yield product, but even then sometimes you get a junk cartridge and the reason why is because some of these same “legitimate” dealers only go so far as to put more ink/toner in an empty cartridge without addressing the rest of the product!

Who can you trust? The owners of have been in the industry since 1993 (25+ years) and understand you can’t just put more ink/toner into a cartridge without it failing; when a toner cartridge is converted to an extended yield product MANY of the internal components must also be replaced to reflect that extended yield: drums, rollers, wipers, etc. must be replaced with new, high-yield, matching after-market components and mated with a toner that will not prematurely wear out those pieces and, will lay down the print on the paper rather than stick on the printer’s fuser. Extra toner in a cartridge that has NOT been outfitted with these components is almost sure to fail and can even burst inside your printer if it was not properly prepped prior to being filled. Most inks are not convertible from an A to an X.

So then, will a “remanufactured” cartridge last as long as an OEM? Again, that depends on the re-manufacturer, if they are following established guidelines for high-quality remanufacturing, then the answer is “Yes.” Mating the proper after-market toner with the proper after-market internal components, filling to correct levels, combined with extensive testing (like 100% of the products at will guarantee you can expect the same print quality and page yield from your after-market, remanufactured toners and inks.

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