updated 9/12/2006 7:46:23 AM ET 2006-09-12T11:46:23

Canon Inc. said Tuesday it will inspect and provide free part replacements for 1.87 million personal copiers worldwide because of a risk some may catch fire.

Copiers at risk totaled 1.87 million units across 11 models manufactured in 1987-1997 and sold worldwide, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement.

Of these, 820,000 were sold in North America, 690,000 in Europe, 140,000 in Japan and 220,000 in other regions, according to Canon spokesman Mayuko Yaguchi.

A problem with the copiers’ wiring meant the machines could overheat and emit smoke or catch fire, Yaguchi said. Three instances of copiers overheating have been reported since 1992, the latest in July this year, but there have been no injuries, she said.

The company expects to spend $1.7 million (200 million yen) worldwide providing free inspections and part replacements for the copiers thought to be at risk.

Canon’s copier trouble follows huge recalls by U.S.-based companies Dell Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. over defective laptop batteries made by a Sony Corp. subsidiary, which also posed fire risks. Dell asked customers to return 4.1 million faulty laptop batteries, while Apple recalled 1.8 million batteries worldwide.

Earlier this month, Japanese manufacturer Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. also recalled 6,000 batteries used in its Panasonic brand laptops on concerns they might overheat.

Analysts said the latest news was unlikely to dent Canon’s recent strong performance.

“I don’t expect inspection costs to make a significant impact on Canon’s profits for this year,” said Damian Thong, a senior technology analyst at Macquarie Securities Japan.

“Canon’s brand image won’t be seriously hurt, given the trouble affects products made a long time ago,” he said.

Canon, the world’s top manufacturer of digital cameras, has been lauded for its consistent profitability amid difficulties facing other Japanese makers.

In July, it cited robust overseas demand for its digital cameras and copiers to raise its net profit outlook for 2006 to $3.76 billion (440 billion yen) from an earlier forecast of 432 billion yen, putting the company on track for a seventh year of record earnings.

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