Inkjet Printers: Keep it Simple (and Cheap)

Analysis

Companies looking at printer acquisition usually consider two options: inkjet or laser based products. In the past, customers preferred laser printers, a solution providing large quantity printing at a relatively affordable price, while inkjet printing was considered more an option for home users and small companies. But technologies have changed significantly and laser may not be the obvious choice for cost-saving printing any more. Especially if you add environment protection to the decision factors, says Csaba Dobos, Epson Europe Business Account Manager.

Csaba Dobos, Epson Europe Business Account Manager.

When talking about business printing, the first choice for acquisition managers (CEOs or CIOs) is still laser printing. This is largely for historical reasons, because this was the technology that became affordable for companies, about 30-40 years ago. Since then, it has not changed much. The components and the materials used have been improved, but the design has remained pretty much the same. Epson has chosen a different path, developing a completely new technology.

“There are many solutions within the inkjet technology, but Epson has developed a completely new one: PrecisionCore micro piezo technology. Basically, this is a new generation technology, allowing the production of high-capacity printer heads,” Dobos says.

The inkjet technology itself is not something new; it has been used for a long time in printing houses. Epson has taken the core of this technology, the printer head, and built all the other printing elements around this so that it becomes a viable solution for offices too.

This results in several advantages for users: lower printing costs and more affordable maintenance, since the technology has become more reliable, requiring significantly less maintenance than the laser devices. This is due to a less complex technology than laser printing, which requires heating units, imaging units and other elements that make printing more costly and less environmental-friendly, Dobos says.

“Larger Epson models can handle up to six million prints with no significant maintenance. Obviously, regular cleaning is required and the replacement of some smaller parts which are not connected to the specific printing technology, but that’s about it,” Dobos adds.

Environmental Concerns

Speaking about environmental considerations, the several parts of a typical laser printer (drums, imaging units, burning unit etc.) have limited life cycles, between 20,000 and 100,000 pages, after which they need to be replaced.

During the life cycle of a printer, the waste produced by replacing these parts amounts to several tens of kilograms. That sort of amount is not produced by inkjet printers. In addition, energy consumption is also significantly lower, 20-200 watts vs. 1,000-1,500 watts in the case of inkjets and laser printers respectively.

When choosing a printer, companies weigh several other factors too, including printing speed and cost per page. There has been a long-standing perception that laser printers have better parameters than inkjets. But Dobos contradicts that.

The core of an inkjet printer, and the most expensive part, is the printer head. The bigger the head is, the faster the printing will be, which, of course, impacts the product price too. Current inkjet models can print as many as 100 pages per minute, if required. Inkjet technology in itself is not limiting the printing speed, Dobos notes.

As for printing cost, Epson has developed a unique technology, which basically eliminates the costly ink cartridges, the EcoTank. These are separate ink tanks that users can easily fill with ink bottles. This makes refilling significantly faster and cheaper than cartridge-based printers, Dobos concludes.

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