April 24, 2018

Disable low toner error in Brother printer

Our library has a Brother MFC-8950DW laser printer / copier device that started complaining recently about its toner cartridge being low on toner. The cartridge was nearly new and the print quality was still quite good. Then a couple of days ago, the printer stopped printing, saying that we needed to replace the cartridge. This was clearly ridiculous. After some poking around I found this video that showed how to disable the low toner error and get thousands more pages out of the cartridge. Here’s what to do:

  1. Remove the toner cartridge. This requires removing its carrier and then extracting the cartridge from the carrier.

  2. Notice that there is a small clear plastic lens on the right side of the cartridge. The printer shines a laser beam through this hole, and if the beam emerges on the left side of the cartridge, the printer assumes that the toner level is low.

  3. Place a small piece of duct tape over the lens and reinstall the cartridge. The low toner error should be gone.

I filed this note under “crapification of everything” because it’s another example of how making a device “smart” has actually made it stupider. The user can no longer decide when to replace the toner cartridge based on print quality. The printer now makes this decision on its own, and worse yet, refuses to function once it has made this erroneous decision.