[REVIEW] : Due to component shortage, Canon can no longer put DRM in its ink cartridges

The semiconductor shortage spares no one and is felt in unexpected sectors. The printer and camera maker Canon has announced that it is having difficulty obtaining electronic components for… its ink cartridges. The case is funny: the missing chips are used to prove to the printer that the cartridge is indeed an official Canon product. A kind of DRM that customers would do well, and that the company now invites to bypass.

Without being able to include these components which officially “perform functions such as detecting remaining toner levels”, production has not been stopped: Canon cartridges are simply exempt from chip certifications. Which leads to this fun brand release that explains how to ignore printer warning messages about where cartridges are coming from. In practice, this involves closing the pop-up windows that regularly disturb Canon customers who have purchased refills from a third party. Let us add that the problem only concerns large office machines and not the smallest dedicated to individuals.

TechDirt notes that printer manufacturers are specialists in pushing buyers to the limit: there is talk of geographically limited ink cartridges at Xerox, a mystery expiration date at HP or even patents to block the competition at Lexmark.

Recently, Canon was sued by unhappy customers that the company is turning off scanners on some printers that have run out of ink. This purely software limitation therefore forces customers to purchase cartridges to perform actions that do not require a drop of ink. In addition, this obligation is not mentioned anywhere in the communication around the printer.

Canon Tells Customers How To Cheat With Its Ink Cartridges

It’s no longer a secret that printer manufacturers generate their revenues through a business model that some would call limit and outdated. Rather than having you buy your printer at full price, they are sold at a loss. Manufacturers are catching up on ink, the price of which is close to 6,500 euros per liter. All with a system of disposable cartridges equipped with a chip.

The printer only recognizes cartridges equipped with a chip programmed by the manufacturer. And when you insert such a cartridge, no error message is displayed and you get full functionality of the printer. When a much cheaper third-party cartridge is inserted into the machine, the user is bombarded with error messages to make them want to go back to original cartridges.

When Canon has no choice but to help its customers cheat

Most manufacturers no longer block the operation of their printer when using third-party ink for image and legal reasons. Nevertheless this somewhat grotesque situation has a negative impact on the environment. In three quarters of cases the cartridges are simply thrown in the trash and are not recycled. Third-party cartridges also improve this aspect by allowing them to be refilled endlessly with a syringe.

Despite several outraged cases, printer manufacturers continue in 2022 on the same strategy – the latest class action against Canon in October 2021 accuses the manufacturer of cutting the scanner functionality on its 4-in-1 printers sold in the United States when the cartridges of ink are empty. However, the global shortage of chips is forcing some manufacturers to give their customers amazing advice.

Canon can no longer integrate the famous protection chip on some of its original ink cartridges. Suddenly, the manufacturer adds tips to get around its own error messages with ink cartridges sold in Germany for the following printer models:

  • imageRUNNER 1435i/1435iF
  • imageRUNNER 2625i/2630i/2645i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE 4525i/4535i/4545i/4551i, II und III
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE C250i/350i/C351iF
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE C255i/C355i/C355iF/C256i/356i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE C256i/356i II und III
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3320i/3325i/3330i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE C3520i/3525i/3530i, II und III
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE C5535i/5540i/5550i/5560i, II und III
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX 4725i/4735i/4745i/4751i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX 6000i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C257i/C357i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C3720i/3725i/3730i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C3822i/3826i/3830i/3835i
  • imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX C5735i/5740i/5750i/5760i
  • imageRUNNER C1325iF/1335iF
  • imageRUNNER C3025i
  • imageRUNNER C3125i
  • imageRUNNER C3226i

For the moment the problem is limited to the German market, but it is not impossible that the manufacturer will find itself in the same situation in other markets if the shortage of chips continues. Concretely, Canon explains point by point the problems that users of such cartridges (which are suddenly identical to generic cartridges, although sold at the usual Canon prices), and the solutions to continue using your printer normally.

Chip shortage now affects ink cartridges in our printers

Faced with the shortage of electronic chips, Canon will manufacture ink cartridges without chips. Did you know that the ink cartridges in your PRINTERS have electronic chips inside? These cartridges do much more, in truth, than serve as a container for your printer’s ink. The chips inside allow them, for example, to authenticate themselves with the device, to ensure that they are official or to indicate to the printer how much ink is left inside.

Faced with the shortage of electronic chips

Unfortunately, due to the shortage of microchips that has plagued the world for very long months now, it turns out that ink cartridges are now also impacted. Indeed, according to an official announcement sent by the Canon Australia site, the company reveals that, because of said shortage, the brand is forced to manufacture ink cartridges without chip.

Canon to manufacture ink cartridges without chips

According to Canon’s ad in question: “To make sure our customers don’t miss out on printing, Canon has innovated in the face of this chip shortage to remain able to supply cartridges and toners. Canon began to manufacture cartridges without chips. While this will cause some inevitable, but nonetheless minor, changes to the user experience, you will still be able to print as usual. ” And that’s ultimately all that matters, right?

Canon also specifies that this is only a temporary solution until the production of electronic chips can meet demand again. That being said, to deal with the error messages that users will necessarily encounter when they want to use these chipless ink cartridges, Canon has already published a guide on its website detailing how to do it. follow up so that you can get through this delicate period and continue to print important documents without worry. In any case, let’s hope that this shortage will not last too long …

Chip shortage forces Canon to review its genuine toner policy

It is a commercial technique as old as the world. Sell ​​razor blades more expensive than the razors themselves. The same is true in the print market. Consumables (ink cartridges, toners, etc.) quickly cost more than the price paid for the printer. Printing ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the world. We understand why printer manufacturers, from Epson to Canon via Lexmark or HP, have invented chips to ensure that the cartridges used on their machines are genuine models, sold by them.

The official rhetoric is that these cartridges improve print quality and printer performance, and allow real-time ink level monitoring. In short, that the consumer enjoys the best possible experience. And this, while excluding the many suppliers of alternative consumables.

Problem: When the global semiconductor shortage causes supply shortages, and official cartridges can no longer have authentication chips attached to them, the system collapses. This is what is driving Canon today * i to explain to its German consumers how to bypass the system of preventing the use of third-party cartridges and toners.

Protection that is extremely easy to circumvent

“Due to the continuing global shortage of semiconductor components, Canon is currently facing difficulties in sourcing certain electronic components used in our consumables for our multifunction printers (…) In order to ensure a continuous and reliable supply of consumables, we have decided to supply consumables without a chip until normal supply resumes, ”says the brand. For the time being, only professional printers from the imageRUNNER range and their toners are concerned.

To bypass the protection, nothing could be simpler: it suffices to ignore the warning displayed by the pilot, unable to provide any indication as to the filling level of the toners without the famous chip. “Although there is no negative effect on print quality when consumables are used without electronic components, some additional functions, such as toner level detection, may be impaired,” says the manufacturer. It remains to be seen whether the chip shortage will force other manufacturers to follow suit as well, and whether other Canon printer models will ultimately be affected, including those intended for the general public.