OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEMs, such as HP, Canon, Epson, and Lexmark are the companies that manufacture your printers. OEM cartridges are cartridges that are branded under your OEM’s brand.
Recycled cartridges that are disassembled by third parties (other than OEMs) and have their worn parts replaced are called remanufactured cartridges. To guarantee print quality, remanufactured cartridges are generally refilled, tested in the factory and repackaged.
Go for the remanufactured toners where the drum inside has been changed in each toner. Watch out for the vendors that sell cheaper remanufactured toner cartridges without changing the drum inside. When you purchase remanufactured ink or toner, be sure that it is fully compatible with OEM standards.
Compatible cartridges (replacements) are manufactured by third parties (other than OEMs) and fully compatible with OEMs. Compatible cartridges are the imitation of the OEMs and costs up to 70% less than the OEMs, so they are a good way to save. They are also just plug and print, just like the OEMs. Most brands’ compatible cartridges can be made except for HP, who doesn’t allow third parties to manufacture compatible cartridges.
Also be ware that different printers require different formulations. There is no such thing as a generic or universal printer ink that will work well in all printers and cartridges. That is why they have all these different kits in the market. Some printer inks will not perform well if used in the wrong printer and can damage your printer. So do not use ink formulated for one printer, in another.
If you find that prices of some cartridges (especially inkjet cartridges) are very expensive, the best thing I can recommend is to use refill kits or compatible cartridges to decrease the overall cost of your printing.