The best way to visualize this answer is to think about an OEM cartridge – Because it is brand new like our Gold Line, the shells are manufactured to the same tolerances every time and the components and the shells fit together perfectly. With a reman there are a number of areas in the re-manufacturing process that introduce the chance of variances (and therefore the chance of leaking) The main ones are:
(1) The condition of the incoming core – Cores are dropped into recycle bins around the country and weigh down on each other. Then they are sent and handled again at processing centers where they are visually inspected for suitability to be remanufactured. From time to time some damaged ones make it into production
(2) The OEMs do not design their cartridges to be remanufactured so the provider has to break into the cartridge – Sometimes they use a large blade tool called a “Splitter” that literally cuts the cartridge in half. If the plastics splinter, this can leave microcaps in the cartridge where toner can leak out in the future.
(3) The cartridges have to be resealed after they are refilled with toner and components – This is done with Glue, plastic welds, or application of a foam gasket and pressure clips holding the two sides of plastic together. These three processes are undertaken by hand with most cartridges so you can understand how inexperienced, inattentive, or tired technicians could seal a cartridge badly from time to time. When producers test the cartridge at the end of the line, they invariably just run a few pages and do not spend much time looking for leaks, many of which are tiny and only show themselves over time. Therefore, if you inspect a printer that is using a reman toner compared to one that is using an OEM or a Gold Line cartridge, you’ll find a lot more toner residue inside the reman printer which eventually clogs the machine up and leads to print quality problems and a service cleaning call.
(4) Remanufacturers prefer to begin with what we call a ‘Virgin Core’ – a core that has not be remanufactured before – One the main reasons is that once a cartridge has been split / resealed with Glue or plastic welds, its difficult to reman a second time and properly seal the cartridge. With the increased popularity of MPS, many older models are remaining in fleets longer than they used to. For example, one of the most popular printer series (Laserjet 4250 / Q5942X toner) was launched in 2004 (15 years old!). The OEM market share for new toner cartridges in this series is very low now, so there are very few virgin cores available. As a result, producers are having to remanufacture a cartridge multiple times and many dealers are experiencing quality issues like leaking with these older series that they never saw previously.