Cartridge is not recognized

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Often when installing a printer cartridge your printer will tell you that it cannot be recognised by the printer. This is a very common problem with all of the various brands of printers and usually there is a solution. Epson printers are the ones that immediately spring to mind when you talk about cartridges not recognized however Brother, HP and even on the odd occasion Canon printers will give this same message.

Almost all of the time when this occurs people will jump up and down and blame the cartridge for the problem however most of the time it isnt the cartridges fault at all. Let's take a look at the most common causes of this issue and how we can fix it.

Brother Printer cannot detect cartridges

When a Brother printer cannot detect a newly installed cartridge then there are several things to check for. First was the printer turned ON when the cartridge was installed? Brother printers should always be turned ON when installing new cartridges whether inkjet or laser.

Brother inkjet printers have small infrared beams which are used to detect the amount of ink that is in the cartridge. If these infrared beams get blocked in anyway by dust, leaked ink or any kind of debris then the printer will not recognize how much ink is in the cartridges. Even a newly installed cartridge may not show any error message but simply not read the correct ink levels.

If on the other hand you have installed a new cartridge and it simply isnt detected by the printer then you will need to do a cold start. This means turning the printer OFF at the wall, unplugging it and leaving the power OFF for at least 10 minutes. After this when you plug it back in the printer is forced to re-detect all of the cartridges and their ink levels.

If one or more cartridges is still not recognized then the microchip on the cartridge may be faulty or may not be making a firm contact with the printers terminals. If this is the case remove the offending cartridges and check if the printer terminals are clean and not damaged. Also check that the chip on the cartridge is clean and sitting correctly in place.

On the later model Brother printers if a cartridge is still not detected after trying all of the above procedures then it may either be faulty or an older chip version which has been superseded by software updates. In this case the only solution is to purchase the latest, updated version of the actual cartridge in question. 

Canon Printer cannot recognise cartridges

Although this usually isnt an issue with Canon printers it still does occur from time to time. If it's simply one cartridge then try some of the same procedures as with the Brother printers above. Usually if it's just one cartridge that cannot be recognised then most likely it is faulty or else the printer terminals which make contact with the chip on the cartridge are either dirty or damaged. Also check that the chip on the offending cartridge is clean and that nothing is stopping the chip from making a firm connection with the printer terminals such as protrusions in the plastic moulding etc.

If none of these procedures overcome the problem then replace the offending cartridge. Canon printers which only use 2 cartridges are more prone to this kind of problem. This also can often be rectified by removing the cartridge and thoroughly cleaning both the chip and the printer terminals. If this doesnt work then once again the cartridge may be faulty. If a Canon printer which uses multiple cartridges is unable to recognise any of them then it may be an indication theat the printhead has died.

Epson Printer cannot recognise cartridges

Epson are the winners in this department, they have a crappy firmware that is prone to issues in almost all Epson printer models. I wish I had a dollar for every one that has owned an Epson printer and has been plagued by this problem.

Almost 100% of the time it is the printers fault however one faulty cartridge can also cause havoc. Often doing a cold reset will overcome the problem. This involves unplugging the printer at the wall for at least 10 minutes and then starting it up again and letting it redetect all of the cartridges. For a more detailed overview of this problem read the following article: Epson Ink cartridges cannot be recognized.

HP Cartridges damaged or not recognized

HP printers are also prone to issues the same as all the other brand printers. Some of the issues with HP printers being unable to detect cartridges or giving error messages include: outdated chips which software updates have superseded, cartridges past their use by date and poorly moulded cartridges which cause the chip to not make firm contact with the printer terminals.

Most people dont realise that many of the HP cartridges are time locked and even if they have never been used they will present an error message if installed after the expiry date. HP are also known for doing software updates which are aimed at rendering generic cartridges useless. Recently they were taken to court and fined for doing this exact thing.  

How to avoid these common issues

Although it is impossible to 100% overcome these issues most will be avoided by purchasing cartridges from a reliable source. At Ink Hub we are on the ball at having the very latest version printer cartridges with the most up to date chips fitted. This helps avoid most of the issues described above.

Finally for a great overview of the issues discussed above take a look at the following video:

Last update: Sep 06, 2018

Dean Michael

Owner of Ink Hub Australia Dean has been in the printer consumables industry since early 2007. In a competitive field such as print consumables many companies have come and gone but Ink Hub continues to grow and provide quality products and service. Dean's hobbies include fishing, web design, ham radio, travel, the beach, fast cars and family.