The OEM, The Premium Grade OEM-Alternative And The Generic

Our article's header might sound like three potential characters in the plot for a fable, but there is nothing fantastical or anthropomorphised in the information we’re sharing ‒ just cold, hard facts. Decades ago, the toner industry’s Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) saw hundreds of unscrupulous, cheap-as-chips knock-off factories mushroom around the world to “compete” with them. 

Over the following decades, another competitor slowly entered the market ‒ the Premium Grade OEM-Alternative. The cartridge on sale from an OEM and OEM-Alternative factory is light years ahead of a generic. Here are the individual backstories to help you in your cartridge purchasing decisions.


OEM manufacturers' history was born from an invention in 1939 by Chester Carlson, which used toner to reproduce an image. Xerox launched the first electric, automatic office copy machine in 1959, which used fixed toner tanks, and toner cartridges were born from a Japanese-Californian collaboration. The HP LaserJet, 1984, was the first cartridge-carrying, desk-top printer.

This also launched the toner cartridge industry, with OEMs being the source of these pricey consumables. OEM toner is a chemically prepared toner produced via a polymerisation methodology in pristine laboratory conditions.

There is no denying that these cartridges are expensive, and this is due to the following:

  • The manufacturing process and dust-free, clinical environment
  • Manufacturing technology
  • The brand name costs
  • Corporate and celebrity sponsorships
  • Significant and expensive research & development
  • New manufacturing equipment costs and production staff equipment costs
  • Quality storage
  • Quality logistics

Now you can see why cartridge prices tally up fast. For this, you get a pristine, superior quality, correctly calibrated but, unfortunately, overpriced cartridge.

The Premium Grade OEM-Alternative

The Premium Grade OEM-Alternative cartridge manufacturers were the third-to-market competitors in this industry. This is due to them not being bang-up, dusty garage-based “production plants” with toner filling happening on the kitchen table.  

Premium Grade OEM-Alternative toners are as close to the OEM design and specifications as legally possible and, just like generic medicine, they are safe to use and provide the same solution as the original. This is because Premium Grade OEM-Alternatives are produced in pristine, dust-free environments using the same OEM polymerisation methodology and are stored and treated just like OEM products.

The cost-saving achieved in OEM-Alternative is due to their lack of celebrity sponsorships, global marketing campaigns and new product research funding. They base their manufacturing on OEM research and are not trying to create new products.

You get OEM quality and performance without the hefty price tag, which is why their popularity has soared.

The Generic

The generic low-cost, low-quality cartridge options are to be avoided. Their only aim is to be cheap, so there are vastly inferior pulveration manufacturing processes and conditions, inconsistency in toner quantities, a high rate of leaking in the printer and inferior print and image quality on the page.

The market is, quite rightly, scared of these printer-damaging products, which is the correct attitude to have.

The Final Copy

The growing number of global consumers who want an OEM-Alternative that is the equivalent to the OEM cartridge has driven the systematic development of more pristine OEM-Alternative manufacturers. The market wants and gets the OEM print quality and reliability without damaging the printer's mechanical integrity. This comes at a slightly higher price than the cheap-and-quick generics, but consumers have shown they are more than willing to pay the fair price for OEM-Alternatives.

If OEM-Alternatives are your strategy, then Onlinetoner is your product of choice. Order yours here or call 1300 BUY TONER (1300 289 866) for customer support.

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