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Canon ink cartridges become an unexpected chip shortage victim

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Canon has become an unusual victim of the global semiconductor shortage, as its printer cartridges are not shipping with chips to confirm they contain genuine ink from the company.

The global semiconductor shortage has led to low supplies of chips used in many different industries, prompting delays in shipments and rising costs of scarce devices to consumers. While computing components, mobile devices, and cars are thought to be the main industries affected by a lack of chips, it appears that printer ink suppliers are also having problems.

Camera and printer producer Canon has run into the situation where it has to send printer cartridges out without its usual collection of chips. As spotted by Mario W on Twitter, this means Canon is producing ink cartridges without what he refers to as "copy-protection measures," and is starting to contact customers about a fix.

The chips included in a printer cartridge provide a few functions, including helping to determine how much ink is left to use. It is also generally used to ensure that users use genuine cartridges from the company, to try and prevent the use of uncertified and unofficial third-party inks.

A support page from Canon Europe's website lists numerous imageRunner multi-function printers that use ink cartridges affected by the shortages. Canon warns that there is "no negative impact on print quality when using the consumables without electronic components," but features such as "the ability to detect toner levels" could be affected.

The page goes on to explain how to use one of the company's affected toner cartridges, including instructions to bypass a warning about a potentially malfunctioning cartridge.

It is unclear how long the problem will last for Canon, nor is it known if other printer manufacturers are going through the same supply issues.

The chip shortage is affecting many industries and device vendors, with Apple seemingly feeling the pinch in September while rivals are faring worse. Chip companies like TSMC have been announcing major investment initiatives to ease off the pressure on chip supply chains, but it is unlikely that the situation will be fixed anytime soon.