Global chip shortage forces Canon to allow ink cartridges without chips

The ongoing global chip shortage continues to affect a wide range of industries. Now, printer maker Canon has had to resort to shipping ink cartridges without chips inside. These chips are used to detect toner levels and to verify the authenticity of ink cartridges.

Twitter user Mario W. flagged up the change on January 7, 2022. Canon’s German website breaks down the change in more depth (translated by Microsoft):

Due to the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor components, Canon is currently facing challenges in sourcing certain electronic components used in our consumables for our multifunction printers (MFPs). These components perform, for [example,] functions such as detecting the remaining toner level.

To ensure a continuous and reliable supply of consumables, we have chosen to supply consumables without a semiconductor component until normal supply resumes.

The business model of certain types of printers relies on people having to purchase ink from manufacturers. Inkjet printers are sold at an affordable rate, while required components, such as ink, are sold at a premium. To prevent printer owners from being able to use more affordable alternatives, Canon and other companies built chips into ink cartridges to verify authenticity.

Printers will show error messages when ink cartridges without a certain type of chip are used. Canon explains how to get around these prompts on its website. Theoretically, people could use these instructions to bypass Canon’s restrictions on cartridges from other manufacturers.

Before anyone gets their hopes up that Canon has had a change of heart regarding how it sells ink cartridges, the company plans to return to its normal setup once chips become more readily available (via TechRadar).

If you do a lot of printing at home or at your office, picking up one of the best laser printers could be your best option. While these types of printers normally have a higher upfront cost than inkjet printers, they’re built for bulk printing. The cost of printing a page is often less on a laser printer as well.

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