Updated The ongoing semiconductor shortage has reached the point that it's affecting one of the most-hated aspects of printing – copy-protection chips on ink cartridges.
That's right, the function that enables printers to scream about foreign bodies if you dare to use a third-party cartridge or potentially prevent the printer from working at all.
Japanese electronics outfit Canon has had to admit, by way of its German tentacle, that it's having such a hard time getting hold of components that it's been forced to ship toner cartridges without the chip fitted.
This appears to mean, on certain models of multifunction printers, that using even a sanctioned Canon cartridge will have the same effect as cramming in a knockoff.
Not to worry. The company has posted a handy workaround, and it mostly involves clicking "Close", "I Agree", "OK", "Whatever", or "Fuck off already" whenever the printer starts complaining about cartridges that are actually designed to go in the device. The translation reads:
We value you as a customer and a constant user of Canon products.
Due to the persistent global shortage of semiconductor components, Canon is currently facing challenges in sourcing certain electronic components that are used in our consumables for our multifunction printers (MFP). These components [are used for example in] Features such as the detection of the remaining toner level.
In order to ensure a continuous and reliable supply of consumables, we have decided to deliver consumables without [the] semiconductor components until normal supply is restored.
There is no negative impact on print quality when using consumables without electronic components, but certain additional functions, such as [for example] the detection of the toner level may be impaired.
What follows are a number of individual instructions for printing on certain models (all from its imageRUNNER series, apparently), and they all follow the path of clicking away annoying error messages, though Canon warns: "The toner level displayed on your device may not be correct, and the remaining toner level may suddenly change from 'OK' to 'Empty'. When 'Empty' is displayed, install a new toner container."
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Mildly inconvenient but hardly the end of the world, and it's funny that the one thing standing between printing with official cartridges and fakes is a little electronic signature that says everything's fine and gives accurate toner readings.
We asked Canon why the workaround was published on its German website specifically. We've also asked HP "Ink" how its supply for cartridge protection chips was holding up.
HP previously said that it does not want "unprofitable customers" and was considering preventing some printers from functioning with a cloned toner. For its part, HP previously said the risk of cloned supplies is that hackers can exploit a "vulnerability where the supply chip meets the printer" as well as quality and printer performance degradation. It has also said that almost all cloned cartridges end up in landfill, making it an environmental no-no.
We'll update the piece if we hear anything back. ®
HP got in touch to say: "HP uses original HP chips in its ink and toner cartridges to ensure the best possible customer experience while protecting against the counterfeiting of its supplies. The company leverages a globally diverse supply chain to remain agile and adaptable in the face of changing industry dynamics."