consumables or supplies


Senior Member
Hi, could you tell me which one should I use to express the parts in a machine which will be run out after a period of time, like toner in a printer or brake disc in a car. Thanks!
  • A consumable can be consumed: consumable energy.
    It is also something that can be depleted or worn out, like consumable paper products.

    Consumables are also supplies of food, fuel, spare parts, and other things that need to be replaced regularly.

    Supplies refers, generally, to materials or provisions stored and dispensed when needed.

    In economics, supplies refers to amounts of a commodity available for meeting a demand or for purchase at a given price.

    So, I know it sounds as if the word you want is consumables! But I can't imagine anyone who needs a new toner replacement asking for a consumable!
    I beg to differ with my colleague. In the office equipment business, among both customers and vendors, ink, toner and other powders and liquids used by machines are called consumables. To muddle things, they are also called supplies.

    Brake disc pads and brake linings are not called consumables.
    In the automotive business they are called parts, or aftermarket parts.
    Cuchuflete raises an excellent point.
    In accounting and tax terms "equipment" is a capital expenditure & "supplies" and "consumables" are "overhead" or "running costs".
    You can amortize the cost of equipment, you can not amortize the cost of supplies.
    In my secretary's handbook, "Supplies" are defined as items that are used but not destroyed by being used, they may be re-used but you will always need more of them - file folders, envelopes, paper, paperclips, refillable pens & pencils.
    Consumables are items which are "destroyed" or "converted" in the process of using them, they may not be re-used - staples, toner, liquid paper, glue, ink, pencil lead.
    "Equipment" is usually taxed at a lower rate than "supplies" or "consumables".
    This results in many paperclips being counted as "equipment".

    Car parts which are not covered under the warranty (brake pads, wiper blades) because should be regularly replaced are sometimes called wear parts or wear items. Googling around, I've seen those called consumables too, but I agree that term is more suitable for office equipment.

    I think that the term supplies is broader than consumables. You might include paper clips, pens and paper in a list of supplies, but you probably would not call those consumables.

    Whoops, lizziemac just said that.