Cartridge controls under microscope at Expo

Cartridge controls under microscope at Expo

HP and Lexmark's cartridge-chipping tactics won't stop demonstrations teaching competitors how to reuse and resell those products at the remanufacturing industry's biennial expo this weekend.

The Australian Cartridge Remanufacturers Association's exhibition, ACRA Expo 2004, to open on the Gold Coast this Friday, will be the industry's biggest meet in the southern hemisphere, according to ACRA.

More than 400 people have registered for the three day event. A large walk-up crowd is also expected.

The event attracts distributors, wholesalers, retailers and remanufacturers, and is not restricted to ACRA members.

While no OEMs have registered to attend, two major OEM distributors, Dynamic Supplies and Toner Warehouse, will be among the exhibitors.

The microchip technology used by OEMs such as HP and Lexmark would be one of the main topics of discussion at the conference, ACRA chief executive officer, David Gibbons, said.

Several printer vendors have microchipped their cartridges in recent years to control their life and (re)use. Vendors argue this protects customers from poor-quality reused alternatives. The cartridge remanufacturing industry claims the practice can be anti-competitive.

The microchips are the reason for the range of technical demonstrations to be held on how to remanufacture those cartridges, Gibbons said. Most demonstrations will focus on HP or Lexmark models.

The dominant maker of chips that let remanufacturers replicate OEM cartridges, Static Control Components (US), is a major sponsor of the expo. The company will brief attendees on its latest products and its legal battle with Lexmark.

"Companies like Static Control are spending multi-million dollars on research for this industry," Gibbons said.

A series of workshops and forums will be presented by local and international speakers on the market and how to run business better.

Another talking point would be the remanufacturing industry's push to increase its products' environmental benefits, Gibbons said.

One of the industry's major claims against OEM competitors is that remanufacturers' recycling and reuse of cartridges creates less waste than the limited life-span of OEM cartridges.

"We'll be discussing more ways of how to treat waste so it doesn't go to landfill," Gibbons said.

The event has received letters of support from the Prime Minister, John Howard, and Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, for the industry's environmental stance.

The ACRA AGM will see the election of the association chairman and discuss the formation of a North Queensland chapter.

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