The Printer Showcase, Inc., Computers  Supplies & Parts, Marietta, GA
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Genuine Toner vs Third Party

When is it ok to use after-market toners?

This is an article that we probably should have published a long time ago but here it is finally.

Now to really get to the bottom of this question one must have a basic understanding of what toner is and a working knowledge of how a laser printer works (see our video “inside a laser engine” to get a sense of what goes on inside there. It’s quite complex and kind of amazing.


Now if you have ever talked to any one of us here at Printer Showcase you may already know our answer because there is no ambiguity with us. Even though third party toner is much more profitable to sell and generally cheaper, we absolutely do not sell it. In fact we look at selling third party toner (or counterfeit toners) as “the perfect crime”. Why? For one it’s totally legal and two there are absolutely zero repercussions for the seller. Here is what I mean, someone buys fake toner and plugs it into their printer. There is still some good toner in the machine so it will take a while before the bad toner works its’ way into the bowls of the printer but eventually the imitation toner clogs things up and causes the printer to fail in some way. Guess who the customer calls? Not the toner guy. They call their printer guy and tell them “my printer is not working please help me”. That’s us! We’re the printer guys. So the toner guy is NEVER held accountable. Hence the perfect crime! Unfortunately these are calls that we get daily and we’re put in the uncomfortable position to break this to our customers who were merely trying to be smart shoppers.

Now some of you out there may be thinking “Hey man isn’t the term “counterfeit toner” a bit harsh? The answer is No it is not. According to the dictionary the definition for counterfeit is:


  1.  a fraudulent imitation of something else; a forgery.


fake, forgery, copy, reproduction, imitation; More

Technically every third party toner contains a chip that tells your printer “I am a genuine toner, so go ahead and start pumping this all inside you”. But of course it is not genuine toner. Not genuine, Not original, Not chemically grown specifically for this engine, yet claiming to be. So by definition it is a counterfeit toner.

Selling fake NFL gear, or Nike gear, or Disney gear is illegal and can get you in a lot of trouble but selling counterfeit toner for some odd reason is totally legal. Like I said “the perfect crime” because it is not a crime at all, and there are zero repercussions.

Please understand that we’re not saying you must buy your toner from us, though that would be a simple way to insure that you get genuine toner quickly and deeply discounted. We certainly are not an exclusive source for any supply or any manufacturer. However, we are saying that if you use third party toner in your laser printer, especially your color laser printer, you are poisoning your printer in a real tangible way.

OK, so is there any situation where third party toner is acceptable? If your printer uses mono-component cartridges, (where toner and drum are all-in-one big cartridge), then a third party toner may not necessarily damage your machine.  It may not print as well, or as long, and it will have a high failure rate. Also it depends greatly on who made that third party toner. Did it come from some anonymous Chinese company or was it manufactured by Xerox? (The company that invented toner).

Yield is another issue. Let’s say the third party toner is half the price. Does it have the same yield? Is it half the yield? Because if it is you’ve saved nothing yet risked the health of your printer. Unless you keep detailed records of page counts you just don’t know.

In the final analysis, we would conclude that third party toners are generally a bad idea and the people selling them are not your friends, (unless they are completely ignorant).

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