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"Smart Chips" - What Are They and How Do I Re-use Them? 
TSN14 | Back to Notes Index |

Smart Chips, the bane of the do-it-yourself refiller. Their sole purpose is to make refilling more difficult by fooling the user  into thinking that their cartridge can not be re-used. To date no other useful purpose has been found for them.

Most smart chips are simply small E-PROM chips that record and report droplet count data to the printer so that it can track ink usage. In older printers, devices were a part of the print head and were simply reset automatically when a cartridge was removed via a simply pressure switch actuated by the removal of the cartridge. The someone came up with idea of a disposable version that could put on the cartridge instead. They could add unique ID numbers and brand name electronic signatures to the chips and really put fear into the end-user about using anything other than the printer manufacturer's cartridges. Scary pop-up messages appear when you install other brands, as the printer can now ID cartridges by brand. The ID numbers can be stored internally prevent use of the cartridge a second time.

Fortunately, government involvement and market demand put limits on how restrictive the smart chips could be. Most smart chips are merely an inconvenience and there are methods that can be used to reset and re-use smart chips used on both laser and inkjet cartridges. Additionally, some printer manufacturer's built in re-use options for some printers that permit the user to refill and re-use cartridges without re-setting, with some limits.

Here are some typical inkjet smart chips types and options available to the end-user to deal with the chips:

bulletEpson Desktop Printers - The chip has a model ID, electronic signature, and droplet count storage. The chip must be reset in order to re-use. Fortunately there are many options of which two are presented here:

SK-168II & SK188 External Universal Chip Reset Device: A small box like device which is designed to reset almost all types of Epson printer cartridges using smart chips. You simple position the cartridge using the guides molded in the case and push the cartridge against the contacts to reset the chip. Takes about 5 seconds to perform a reset.

Auto-Reset Chips: Specially designed chips which automatically reset when either of the following conditions are met: The printer is powered off for 20-30 seconds (Desktop printers) or when the ink levels reach 5% (Wide Format Printers).

SSC Smart Chip and Printer Service Utility for Epson Printers: A freeware program created by SSC Localization Group located in Russia, as a protest against the use of smart chip technology in Epson printers. This program does NOT work with wide format printers (17" or wider carriage).

This program supports most Epson desktop printers and allows direct control of the E-PROM chip, whether it is on the cartridge or in the printer itself. It can reset the chips for most popular Epson printers and where it can't, it can just FREEZE the droplet count and prevent the printer from locking your cartridge out. Includes a report utility so that you can send data about the chip operation of new printer models so that can quickly design the reset protocol for new printers.

Works on Win 9x, ME, XP and 2000 OS. You can download the most up to date version here or visit the SSC Localization Group website. Additional features unrelated to chip reset are also include such as better print head cleaning controls. This software is recommended for CRS users who do not want to spend the additional cost for Auto-Reset Chips.

WeInk, LLC does not warranty or support the SCC software. There is no charge to download and use the program.
 
bulletHP Desktop & Wide Format Printers - Most models which use a smart chip are Business Printers such as the 2000c, 2200c, 2250c, and 2500c, as well as popular DesignJet models such as the 130. There is a chip on each inkjet cartridge and each print head. Differing from the Epson cartridges in that these chips also have a programmable expiration date. You can generally re-use the cartridges without reset, but the ink level status monitor will no longer be accessible. Once the expiration date arrives the chip must be reset, as the printer will no longer use the cartridge at all, so that a new expiration date can be programmed. Our CamelFLO™ for HP printers come with auto-reset chips that automatically reset the chips when printer is powered off for at least 30 seconds and keeps an open expiration date.
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