Smart chips for laser printer, copier, MFP and fax machines. We supply compatible chips
to reset your toner cartridge, so you may refill it and use it again.
Environmentally friendly!
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Reset Chips for laser toner refills

Chip FAQs

This page has general information about printer chips, covering what they do and how you can use them to help the environment and save money.

What is a cartridge chip?

  • They are devices that communicate with a printer either through direct contact or RF (Radio Frequency).
  • Typically they are mounted on a small circuit board.
  • They have memory to store information.
  • Usually they have a processor to provide the correct response.
  • They often have a power control circuit to feed the processor when needed and to provide protection from voltage spikes etc.

  • What does a chip do?

  • It stores information specific to the cartridge. This includes the part number, yield and region.
  • It stores cartridge usage data from the printer's toner metering system. This includes pages printed, page coverage and estimated toner remaining.
  • It provides authentication to allow communication with the printer. The machine verifies that the cartridge is the correct type.
  • It must answer challenges from the machine correctly, using correct encryption and within a specific time frame.
  • It sends information on cartridge usage to the machine from its storage, along with correct cartridge specifics.
  • The chip is a passive device that stores data sent to it by the machine from its toner metering system as the cartridge its used.
  • A new chip has fresh /zero usage data. All subsequent changes are written to it by the machine.

  • What does a chip not do?

  • It does not control yield. The machine's toner metering system determines the page count, page coverage, toner low and toner out conditions. This is stored on the chip and read back, but the data originates from the printer. 
  • Chips do not lock out the machine at a certain page count. Machines use the information stored on the chip to determine when it should stop printing, but this information originates from the printer. Most printers are programmed to lock out when the toner out limit is reached (except Brother and HP).
  • Chips do not control toner level information. The machine determines the toner level by counting the number of pixels. It uses a formula to calculate the amount of toner used per pixel and stores that data on the chip. Some machines also have mechanical, electrical or optical methods of determining the toner level
  • Chips do not give an error message directly. The machine contains the circuitry needed to generate error codes. However if a machine cannot see or read a chip, it will generate an error code due to the chip not responding correctly.
  • Error codes can also be generated if something goes wrong with the cartridge physically, or with another part of the printer. These are not caused by the chip

  • How can chips help the environment?

  • Most printers are programmed to lock out when the cartridge reaches the end of its rated lifetime (except for Brother and HP).
  • This prevents you from refilling the toner and using it again.
  • Most toner cartridges can be refilled several times, and maintain excellent print quality beyond their first life.
  • Replacing the spent chip with a new chip resets supplies usage data to zero.
  • The printer thinks that the refilled cartridge is new.
  • Refilling is environmentally friendly, reducing waste landfill and conserving raw materials.
  • It also saves typically 50% on the cost of a replacement cartridge.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle is the environmental mantra. This is reuse, which is an optimal form of recycling a consumer product.
  • EcoStar don't supply toner powder, but its available from our TonerTopUp sister site.

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    A brief history of printer chips.

    Over the past twenty five years chips have grown to become a large part of the aftermarket supplies industry. The technology used has evolved quickly, sometimes faster than the cartridges they are attached to. When they first appeared they were relatively simple designs. Chips were first seen with the TEC 1305 printer engine in the spring of 1992. The Xerox N24 engine came out shortly afterwards. HP first used simple chips in the Color Laserjet 4500 along with the first Chemical colour powder in this model. The first RF (radio frequency) chips were introduced by HP in the Laserjet 4100, 9000 and Color Laserjet 4600 models.

    Lexmark have been one of the most challenging OEMs for our industry. The first chip used in the Optra T was fairly easy to overcome, but the release of the T520 changed this industry. The first aftermarket solution was a "piggyback" chip that fitted on top of the original and was wired to a pass-through board. Later stand-alone boards were developed. These started out with somewhat large components, and were miniaturised as the industry evolved. We now have small boards with extremely complex encryption codes. With a few exceptions HP and Lexmark chips are the contact type, with plated pads that connect with contacts inside the machine.

    Other manufacturers use RF style chips, most noticeably Xerox, Dell, Oki and Kyocera. These chips broadcast a small signal through an antenna. The antenna can be a hard wire coil (Xerox, Dell) or even a thin label with a flexible circuit printed on it (Kyocera). They can and do look very different from one manufacturer to the other. There are other styles of chips including credit card sized boards which insert into a slot by the machine's control panel (some Oki, Philips and Xerox MFPs). Some other chips plug into a connector and come complete with a plastic housing (eg. Xerox N24).

    Most modern chips use dedicated microprocessors. The programming is built in and is more hardware than software. Microprocessor chips can be very complex. The OEMs use encryption to encode the signals sent to and from the chip. Firmware updates are used to change the encryption key, and to present new challenges. The original chip has an encryption module. This actually calculates the response to the question the printer is asking, instead of using a pre-programmed response. The same chip works with all future firmware updates.

    Most of the latest aftermarket chips are fully encoded and also contain an encryption module. Firmware updates do not matter because this module calculates the correct answer to each request. It does not just send pre-programmed answers. They can emulate the original chip 100% and always give the correct response.

    Its expensive and time consuming for the chip manufacturer to develop these encryption modules. They must research and work around the OEM's patents and intellectual property so that the finished chip is completely legal. Using reverse engineering methods it is possible for them to develop their own solution independently of the OEM's work. Typically there is a delay of several years when a new model is released before aftermarket supplies become available. The chip must be developed before compatible consumables are sold. These chips are expensive when they are first released, to cover high development costs. A recent example is the Lexmark C/MC/2325/2425/2535 series models. These were released around October 2018. We made the first aftermarket chip available to our customers in August 2020. Other models have taken longer. The CS720/725/CX725 was released around January 2016 and the compatible chips did not appear until July 2020. For the C/MC3324/3326 series models the compatible chips are still not yet available.

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