Laser printing technology has long been a choice for medium and enterprise sized businesses, and that has been reasonable choice. Printing machines utilizing laser delivered high quality output at, which is crucial for larger businesses, high speed. Enter any corporate or government office to see those buzzing cubes of plastic cover and electronic inside – laser printers, copiers, and multifunction machines.
Laser has been absolutely dominating office premises, limiting inkjet printer use to home and small offices. One of the reasons of laser printers dominations was incredibly low price of black and white, printouts compared to those produced by inkjet printer. Yes, inkjet were perfect for accurate reproduction of colors, so important in a field of, say, professional photography.
However, with recent inkjet technology advancements, inkjet printers are easy to enter medium and large business sector and even dominate it.
Couple of years ago HP introduced Scalable Print Technology that changed the way HP designed and assembled inkjet printheads. The new technology allows varying the printhead width, as well as the number of nozzles and inks depending on desired performance and cost required. That means single scaling platform can be equally used for consumer to enterprise market range. Recent extension of Scalable Print, Edgeline technology utilizes fixed printheads that span the width of the paper, and provides more accurate ink-drop application and improved reliability, as well as much faster speeds.
Another player to enter and compete on high-speed inkjet printer market is Silverbrook Research, an Australia-based company headed by several former HP executives. The company has developed an inkjet technology called Memjet. Just like HP’s Edgeline, Silverbrook’s technology uses fixed page-wide printhead and already has over 1,400 patents. In March Silverbrook introduced a prototype that was estimated to cost from $200 to $300 and delivered incredible 60 full color pages per minute.
Though the technology looks promising in prototype, experts are being skeptical about Memjet’s future and all agree that it has a long way to go. Technology itself is one thing, and effective marketing with the total package and supply-chain logistics behind it is another.
Apart from HP, other major brands are promoting ink-based solution into the business space. Xerox first introduced solid-ink technology in 1990s, and since then the company has been enjoying the comstant growth of the business. Ricoh is also trying to deliver own ink-based technology to businesses. It’s has developed the GelSprinter technology, designed for entry-level black-and-white and color printing.
Inkjet technology has a bright future, as people are looking for alternatives to laser. The introduction of Memjet and Edgeline is another proof of that. It is just going to take time for page-width inkjets to become integral part of our life.