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Semiconductor Shortage Forces Canon to Dump Toner Copy Protection Chips

Canon MFP toner change
(Image credit: Canon)

Semiconductor shortages have forced Canon's hand, and it is abandoning the practice of adding copy protection chips to its toner cartridges, at least in some regions. Instead, to help its customers continue printing, Canon Germany has shared hints about swerving the warnings that will inevitably pop up with the chip-less carts. Twitterer Mario W says Canon is also sending out emails to registered customers of the affected printers.

At the time of writing, support specifically says that consumables for a number of its ImageRunner series of multi-function printers (MFPs) will be affected by the chip shortage. However, these appear to be wholly laser / toner-based devices, so previous reports mentioning chip-less ink carts may not be entirely correct.

Canon's action under pressure might bring a wry smile to users who hate the idea of printer ink and toner that feature protection by security chips. Moreover, Canon's Germany's compulsion to outline how to bypass the dire warning about "non-Canon" supplies is somewhat satisfying. However, there are some downsides to this from a consumer perspective.

Ignore the warnings, but no chip means no toner level functionality

If you have a new genuine Canon toner replacement (or a copy/refill), it doesn't look too complicated to get around any warnings and to continue to make use of your MFP. However, depending on the MFP model number, you will have to click, Close, I Agree, or Press OK at the right time in the correct dialog to print/copy. Hopefully, this screen clicking or UI prodding has to be done once per cartridge change.

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon highlights another drawback of the chip-less consumables that the company has to sell. The cart chips kept a tally of the page counts, so it can no longer help alert the user when the cartridge is likely empty.

Last but not least, Canon assures users buying non-chipped cartridges that "there is no negative impact on print quality when using consumables without electronic components." Furthermore, the Japanese imaging stalwart says that it will restart sales of chipped carts as soon as "normal supply is restored."

Other printer brand customers could be even worse off

It will be interesting to see if other printer and consumable makers have to act similarly to Canon due to the chip shortage issues. In one respect, Canon isn't the worst offender with its genuine cart warnings - some other printer makers will block the use of unchipped carts or copies/refills that haven't quite got the chip code right.

In recent years, Tom's Hardware hasn't focussed on 2D printing, as we have firmly entered the glamorous new age of 3D printing. So please keep an eye on our best 3D Printer Picks for 2022.