Epson Cartridge Not Recognized

by Izzy Goodman

If this happens with one cartridge, it might be a bad chip. If more than one with any of the earlier cartridges (T048, T060, T069, T078, T079, T098), the problem is almost certainly with the printer. I say this because so far, in the very few times this happened, the cartridges have always worked in another printer. Earlier epson printers and their matching cartridges have not been changed. The chips they contain today are identical to the ones manufactured years ago. It usually means the wrong cartridge was inserted - such as a yellow in the blue slot. Each chip is matched to its color and putting the wrong cartridge in the wrong slot will cause the printer to report an unrecognized cartridge.

Another cause is a short within the printer itself. At one customer (fortunately a local one) I used a flashlight and spotted a tiny fragment of a cartridge chip stuck to the pins inside the printer. This was shorting out the connection and causing the printer to fail to recognize any cartridge in that slot. Removing the fragment solved the problem. At another client, the printer refused to recognize any cartridge - including genuine Epson. This indicates a broken pin in the printer or the failure of the recognition chip in the printer.

We even had 2 customers whose printers refused to recognize genuine Epson but worked with our reusables! I later found an explanation for that here:

If it is a later cartridge, it becomes a little harder to diagnose. How old is your printer? If it is brand new, there is a chance that Epson recently changed the programming again, in which case it is possible the cartridges are outdated and you need new chips. If it is a few months old, this is highly unlikely, unless you ran a firmware upgrade. Are you sure it is reporting the correct cartridge? Sometimes after you replace the cyan, it suddenly reports a problem and you assume it's the cyan you just replaced but it's actually a different one which came loose or is now empty. Try reseating or replacing a different cartridge. Of course it's always possible that something happened to damage the chip on the cartridge, which can happen with genuine epson as well. In this case the cartridge must be replaced.

Reboot the printer

The printer's memory may need to be cleared. Remove all the cartridges. Unplug the printer (turning it off is not enough, it must be unplugged) for 10 minutes. Try inserting the cartridges one at a time (beginning with the one which wasn't recognized if the problem was a specific color) and testing as each is inserted. First put in one and see if it is recognized. Then add the second, then the third, etc. Often this will work or at least help you determine the faulty cartridge.

Don't mix Epson and non-epson

Mixing Epson ink cartridges and non Epson cartridges in the same printer may occasionally fail with a "cartridge not recognized" error. We have even heard of customers whose printers failed to recognize genuine Epson ink cartridges until all the cartridges were changed - even the ones which were not out of ink. It appears that the printers may mistake the "low ink" warning with the "cartridge not recognized" error. Even if the printer recognizes the cartridges, the resulting printout may not look great. This is because the Epson ink formula is different than compatible ink. Epson printers mix some color into the black ink to produce a richer black (which is why color ink is used even if you only print in black). Mixing the different formula inks might give poor results.

Turn off ink notifications

Some of the newer Epson printers have a choice on the menu called Notifications or Ink Notifications. By default these are turned on to warn you about everything including if the printer thinks the ink is low or if your cartridges are not genuine Epson. When these notifications are turned on, you may experience a lot of problems with third-party cartridges. A customer was having a difficult time getting his NX430 printer to recognize our reusable T126. He got three of them to work but upon inserting the fourth the printer would complain about all of them. Then he found the notification settings on the menu and turned off all three notifications. His printer then accepted the cartridges.

Error cycle - first one cartridge then the next reports an error or you replace a cartridge and the printer still complains

epson cartridge error cycle article

Firmware Upgrade Issues

For a long time people have been asking me if Epson has a way to get into their printers through the Internet and make them stop recognizing compatible cartridges. The answer has always been no. Until Epson began releasing what they call firmware upgrades. These are software files which Epson owners have to download and install to the printer. (Note these are NOT driver upgrades which are merely installed to the computer. These have to be copied to the printer.) What exactly do they do? They can't make your printer run faster or print better. So why does Epson want you to reach into a working printer and change things?

I got a clue as to what this does when a customer with an Artisan 730 contacted me. His printer suddenly stopped recognizing refillable cartridges after he ran the upgrade. Since then this has happened several times. So I suggest that you not run firmware upgrades on your printers. It appears that all this does is prevent third party cartridges from working. Some Epson printers have the menu set to automatically run upgrades but they give you the ability to change that. Check to see if yours does and turn off automatic upgrades.

Unique Serial Numbers in Chips

Sometimes it doesn't pay to be the first one out of the gate with a new cartridge. Epson is experimenting with ways to prevent compatible cartridges from being recognized. Now they are putting unique serial numbers on the chips (T220, T288, T786, T410, 702, 802). The printer will not allow the same serial number to be used twice. This prevents refilling a cartridge, which is never a good idea. But it also means that if you remove the cartridge from the printer, it will no longer work. Making each chip unique is an added expense which compatible manufacturers wanted to avoid. It is also the reason why these cartridges are so expensive. Compatible manufacturers "solved" this problem by making chips with 20 or so serial numbers, figuring chances were low that the same customer would get the same serial number twice. But low doesn't mean impossible. The first batches of these cartridges sold on Amazon and ebay failed miserably and yet they are still being sold. We waited until our manufacturer guaranteed us they had several hundred unique serial numbers.

Special issues with reusable & refillable cartridges
When the printer decides these cartridges are empty, it sends a signal which self-destructs the chip. These chips are designed to reset back to full. The chip can only take so many resets before it fails. A rule of thumb is to replace it after a year. If you made sure the cartridge contains ink and it is still not recognized after you turned the printer off and on as described in the instructions, the chip needs to be replaced.