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You won't be able to print if one of the cartridges is out of ink. The printer will prime every once in a while thus the need for all cartridges to have sufficient ink levels to prevent damaging the printhead.
The printer needs all cartridges with sufficient ink levels for you to be able to print. The printer will prime every once in a while thus the need for all cartridges to have ink - this will prevent damaging the printhead.
Some brands of fax machines and all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copiers need the ink cartridge to be present and have some ink in it to perform functions which don't actually require ink.
My dad bought a Brother all-in-one, and he is unable to scan or send faxes unless he replaces an empty ink cartridge first. If you have a Brother fax machine, I'd suggest returning it and buying a different brand. They waste ink on unnecessary cleaning procedures and force you to buy more for stuff that doesn't need ink.