Cartridge guide



The different types of cartridge according to official terminology ( ETIRA Glossary)




Counterfeit 100% Blatant copy Looks and feels 100% like an OEM product – including product and packaging. Illegal use of OEM brand : brand, design and patent infringement
Clone Faux Looks confusingly similar to an OEM product, but no OEM brand, patented OEM technology replaced by inferior technology replacements (no patent infringement)
Clone Imperfect fake Looks like OEM at first sight (use of OEM brand), but in detail sophisticated, patented OEM technology replaced by inferior technology replacements (no patent infringement)
Clone No-name fake No OEM brand, but OEM patents and design infringed
Infringing compatible Functional copy Looks different, but OEM patent infringement
IPR free compatible Not a copy, IPR respecting, functional solution Looks different, no OEM brands used, no OEM patents used
Fair remanufactured Legal repair only Original patented OEM parts (real used parts), OEM brands removed
False remanufactured Remanufactured cartridge using illegal parts, see counterfeit Use of “new built” empties instead of used patented OEM parts, example; identical OEM copy, but sold as “remanufactured”
Infringing remanufactured Use of fake parts/IPR infringing components Use of legal OEM empties, patent infringing parts added (example; Canon toner gear coupling)
OER Empty or used cartridge A cartridge having been used and having completed one printing cycle.

The components of a laser cartridge

  • Toner : Resin-based powder, pigments and polyester or wax which enable electro-photographic prints in laser printers and photocopiers. Magnetic toner which contains iron oxide powder is distinct from non-magnetic toner.

  • Drum or OPC (Organic Photo Conductor) : Aluminium cylinder with a photosensitive coating onto which the laser beam (or LED) writes.

  • Developing roller : A roller with a conductive metal core and a moulded rubber and Teflon coating. Its role is to bring the toner in proximity to the surface of the drum on which a latent electrostatic image has been created.

  • Magnetic roller : Has the same function as the developer roller but for magnetic toner. Its core is strongly magnetic, which attracts the toner, it has a metallic coating.

  • PCR (Primary Charge Roller) : A roller with a conductive metal core and a moulded rubber and Teflon coating. On contact with the OPC its surface is electrostatically charged before the passage of the printer’s laser beam.

  • Doctor blade : A metal or rigid polyurethane blade which controls the quantity of toner on the developing roller and negatively charges the toner by friction before it is transferred onto the OPC.

  • Wiper blade : a polyurethane blade in contact with the OPC which it cleans by removing the toner which has not been transferred to the paper.

  • Mylar : A very thin Mylar blade which ‘guides’ the toner to the waste reservoir after the scraper has removed it from the OPC. Without it the residual toner would drop onto the printed page.

  • Chip : Integrated electronic circuit which counts the number of impressions made by the cartridge and tells the printer the approximate level of toner remaining.

Did you know ? The six steps of the print cycle

  • 1 – Charging

    The PCR (Primary Charge Roller) negatively charges the surface of the OPC (Organic Photo Conductor), such that will electrostatically repel the toner.

     2 – Exposing

    Via a rotating mirror and converging lenses, the printer’s laser beam sweeps the surface of the photoconductor drum. The electrostatic charge of the drum will be cancelled at each point the laser beam ‘aims at’. The printer’s image is thus reproduced in a latent electrostatic form.

     3 – Developing

    The developing roller delivers the toner close to the surface of the OPC. The toner, already negatively charged by friction with the Doctor Blade, is attracted by those parts of the OPC which are the least negatively charged; those which have been exposed to the laser. In the case of a polyester or chemical toner, the developing roller is often fed by a foam roller, known as a toner adder roller. In the case of a magnetic toner, the developing roller has a strongly magnetic core (known as a magnetic roller), which directly attracts the toner.

  • 4-Transferring

    The paper is positively charged by the printer’s transfer roller and passes close to the rotating OPC. The negatively charged toner on the OPC is then attracted onto the paper.


    In practice about 5% of the toner on the OPC is not transferred to the paper. To avoid this being deposited on the next revolution, the surface of the OPC is physically scraped and the residual toner sent to the waste reservoir of the cartridge. The previous latent electrostatic image on the OPC is then erased by the PCR which uniformly recharges the surface of the OPC ready to start a new cycle …


    Immediately after the transfer of the toner from the OPC to the paper, the toner (and thus the reconstituted image) is only held in place by the static charge. The sheet of paper then passes through the fuser unit, where it is heated and pressed so that the toner melts and impregnates the fibres of the paper.