Cartridge Chip – what does it do?
What is a Chip?
The electronic chip attached to your printer cartridge is the communication device between the printer and cartridge. The chip is read by either being in direct contact with your printer or operating via radio frequency. They are typically mounted onto a small circuit board and have a memory that stores vital printer information, such as pages printed and page coverage. Modern chips have processors attached and are built with power protection from voltage spikes to prevent misreading of the chip.
What does it do?
The following information is usually communicated:
- Correct cartridge installation – both to confirm successful installation as well as correct fit
- List of cartridge page yield
- If the cartridge is new or used
- Toner remaining in the cartridge
- List of regions – worldwide, manufacturers can use different chips for different geographical regions
Most cartridges have the capability to hold data as they need to allow the machine to manage toner use. The data collected includes the pages printed and the coverage of each page. This data determines the toner level and writes this information to the chip directly. This then can send the required information back to the machine as required. The cartridge will continue to store machine information as the cartridge is used.
What doesn’t it do?
The chip does not control the yield. Chips are pre-programmed with the start yield, but the machine determines the page count, page coverage, toner low and toner out. The role of the chip is to keep this information stored and return this information to the machine when it is requested. Once the “toner low” or “toner out” is written to the chip, it is irreversible. The only way to clear this is to replace the chip.
The chip will not shut a machine down at a certain page count. Machines will only use the information stored on the chip to determine if or when it should stop printing. All of this information is calculated by the machine.
The chip doesn’t control toner level information. Again, this is calculated by the machine. The machine uses a formula to calculate the amount of toner used per pixel (either by a mechanical, electrical or optical method) and stores this data on the chip for re-call when required. If the chip were to calculate this information, it would duplicating what the machine already does, and would need to be very complex and take up a lot more space than economically feasible.
Chips can’t give an error message. The machine contains all of the circuitry needed to generate these codes. If the machine is unable to see or read a chip, it will generate an error code.