In the 1990s, David Gibbons was engaged in the business of recycled printing consumables in Sydney, Australia, and has extensive industry experience. He believes that the use of chips by original printer manufacturers poses a great threat to the general consumables industry. In this article, he mainly discussed the relationship between chips, coding, consumables and printers.

"A string of small codes is actually the key to open the communication between the consumables and the printer." Before I knew the concept of serial numbers, I never thought that a string of codes could influence the development of the general consumables industry.

Since the universal consumables entered the desktop printing era, end users have complained about universal toner cartridges/ink cartridges-they have found that the products they purchased cannot be used normally. Consumers have blamed the distributors; and the distributors pointed the finger at the remanufacturers, believing that the products they produced had quality problems; the remanufacturers blamed the upstream component suppliers.

The evolution of consumable serial numbers

In the late 1990s, original printer manufacturers implanted smart chips in consumables, which created a high wall for the development of the general consumables industry. These chips make general consumables that do not contain chips and recycled consumables that reuse old chips from being recognized by the printer, so they are called "killer chips."

In the 1990s, I was engaged in the business of recycled printing consumables in Sydney, Australia. My company is the executive unit of the Australian Recyclable Consumables Association. The threat of consumable chips to the general consumable industry is vivid. Manufacturers of recycled consumables believe that the "killer chips" of original manufacturers hijack consumers' right to choose, forcing consumers to use only original consumables. However, the original manufacturer turned a deaf ear to this point of view.

At that time, the original manufacturers claimed that the appearance of chips was to provide consumers with a better "customer experience."

"Where there is demand, there are products." The general consumables market quickly took action to deal with the emergence of "killer chips" and found solutions for using alternative chips on recycled consumables.

Most of the time, the investment in the research and development of alternative chips pays off, but there are also times when it has little effect. With the development of technology, original manufacturers have increased their efforts to develop increasingly complex chips.

Under this circumstance, manufacturers of recycled consumables attribute the blame to suppliers of accessories and chips, and suppliers attribute the dilemma of questionable chip reliability to manufacturers of recycled consumables.

Chip manufacturers have to analyze the reasons for the increasing failure rate of general consumables. Through research and analysis, they found that some printers have the ability to store chip serial numbers. Once the consumable is on the machine, the serial number data in the chip will be stored by the printer, which means that neither the original consumable chip nor the general consumable chip can be reused. The printer will recognize it from the stored data, and once it finds the same serial number, it will report an error and stop working.

At the beginning, the printer will only store the serial numbers of the recently installed consumables, and the number of memories is within a certain range. With the advancement of technology, the serial number of consumables has gradually evolved from a simple string of identification codes into a specially encrypted code, and the printer is no longer simply memorizing a certain number of serial numbers, and has gradually developed into a Permanently store and remember all the serial numbers that have been on the machine.

The original manufacturer has also developed a new strategy, that is: the printer can transfer additional information to each data storage. It can be achieved by upgrading the printer firmware.

As we all know, the printer firmware upgrade can optimize the repair performance program, of course, it can also change some data commands, increasing the threshold of communication between the consumable chip and the printer. The firmware upgrade has the ability to "shield" the specified serial number. Once the serial number is "shielded" after the upgrade, the universal toner cartridge/ink cartridge with the same serial number cannot pass the verification of the printer and cannot be used normally.

The cost and risk of deciphering codes

The design of the chip must conform to the printer's mechanism of memorizing serial numbers, and only enough serial numbers are king.

How can I get enough serial numbers? As we know, today's serial number is no longer a simple string of identification codes, but has been upgraded to a special encrypted code.

If you can directly decipher the algorithm, you can have an unlimited number of serial numbers.

How difficult is it to decipher the algorithm? The time required to decipher an algorithm is basically calculated in units of years, which requires considerable time and labor costs, not to mention the time and effort, even if the investment is not 100% guaranteed to be able to successfully decipher.

Think about the energy and financial resources required for the development of a new crown vaccine, and you will find that despite the different scales, the process of deciphering algorithms and designing chips is very similar to vaccine development. The investment in chip research and development is high, and the time it takes to decipher an algorithm is basically calculated in units of years, but once it succeeds, the rewards are also very generous.

If the algorithm is not deciphered, what solutions do chip designers have?

If you cannot decipher it directly, then develop enough serial numbers. As long as the pool is large enough, the risk of getting the same serial number on the machine can be reduced. The development of the serial number is based on the original consumables, which means that sufficient funds are needed to purchase original consumables and data collection equipment for development.

If you can't guarantee enough serial numbers, even if the chip is developed, you risk a high repetition rate, and the quality and performance of the product will be greatly compromised. Chip manufacturers need to invest more costs and carry out long-term maintenance. Enterprises without considerable strength cannot chew this "hard bone" and produce products with stable quality.

"This string of small codes is like a butterfly in the tropical rainforest of the Amazon River Basin. It occasionally flaps its wings but brings different things to chip manufacturers, consumable manufacturers, end users, and even the entire general consumable industry. influences."

In the future, challenges and opportunities coexist. We believe that the intellectual power inspired by entrepreneurial spirit and capital will open up more feasible ways and vitality for the sustainable development of the general consumables market.