How to Handle an Ink Cartridge Smart-Chip Expiration

(Posted 3/5/2006) - If you've purchased an ink-jet style printer from Epson, Lexmark, or HP in the last 5 years you may have encountered the dreaded "Replace Ink Cartridge - Supply Expired" message.

This technology shuts down the printer, even when there is ink in the cartridge if the cartridge's smart-chip indicates the ink supply has reached a manufacturer defined age. There are alternatives to buying a new cartridge however.

Just last week I installed a customer's new HP D125X copier/printer only to find that it wouldn't work with the packaged full ink cartridges because the customer had purchased the unit almost 4 years before as a back-up. The printer reported "Replace Cartridges - Supply Expired" even though the ink levels indicated full. I wondered what was up. A quick visit to HP's website answered the question. The #14 cartridges use smart-chip technology that includes an embedded manufacture date which is compared with the current time passed from the host PC during printer initialization. Thus the printer logic can determine whether the ink cartridge should be "expired," meaning disabled from providing ink.

I realized this strategy would play havoc with traditional ink refill practices and figured there were probably some unofficial hacks and perhaps some after-market replacements that disabled the smart-chip expiration. Here's the good news:

3 Ways to Handle a Smart-Chip Expiration

  • Turn off your printer, then set your PC clock calendar back 4 years. Turn on your printer and once it initializes print to your heart's content with your 'expired' cartridge (assuming it's ink level is >0).

    Once your print tasks are complete, restore the PC calendar to the current year.

  • Buy a cartridge that has been 'doctored' with an auto-reset smart chip that will not shut down your print function based on a manufacturer's shelf life algorithm.
  • Buy an auto-reseting smart-chip for $4-$8 that will allow you to refill your current cartridge and will start the printer out with a fresh expiration date and show it to be 100% full. This does require you to detatch the ink cartridge smart-chip and connect/glue the aftermarket unit. Usually a few minutes work.

    This solution is probably the refiller's response of choice. I provide an online store link (not a recommendation - I've never done business with this store) to show the existence of the aftermarket chips Click Herefor aftermarket smartchip link.

    Finally, here's a general reference you might find interesting Article: Smart-Chips in Printers.

    Happy Printing!