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Canon to sell chip-free printer cartridges as semiconductor shortage bites

The company has also revealed how to get around DRM warnings on its products

Canon is set to sell chip-free printer cartridges to help its customers continue using its products as the company becomes the latest victim of the global semiconductor shortage.

The company said that the role chips play in toner cartridges is to communicate information, including toner level, and to confirm that the toner is a genuine Canon product.

However, to ensure that customers are still able to print during the global chip shortage, Canon declared it has started to produce chip-less toner cartridges to help its customers print as normal, although there will be some minor changes to the printing process. This will affect over 50 of its models in the imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER ADVANCE range.

It said it has chosen to supply the cartridges without the semiconductor component until normal supply resumes, and that certain ancillary functions, like the ability to detect toner levels, may be affected. Canon has also released instructions on workarounds to bypass DRM warnings like the replace toner message and how to install the new chip-less cartridges. 

The company’s Australia and New Zealand arm estimated that the chip-less toner cartridges will be supplied in the two countries from February 2022.

“Whilst the global shortage of semiconductor components continues to affect many industries, it’s our priority to prevent any disruption to our customers," a Canon spokesperson told IT Pro.  "As with all manufacturers, we continually monitor our supply chain to anticipate and prepare for any potential disruption and we are taking steps to deal with the situation, such as adjusting product designs."

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There has been controversy around Canon's printers as in October, it emerged that Canon USA was being sued for not allowing owners of certain printers to use the scanner or faxing functions if they run out of ink. The plaintiff in the suit found that when using his "all-in-one" Pixma MG6320, the machine would refuse to scan or fax documents if the printer ran out of ink.

The plaintiff argued that he would not have purchased the device or paid as much for it if he had known he would have to maintain ink in the device to scan documents.

Since at least 2016, other customers have contacted the company about this problem and were told that ink cartridges must be installed and contain ink to use the printer's features. BleepingComputer also found evidence of Canon informing customers on its forums that all ink tanks must contain ink if they wish to print in grayscale.

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