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It is Not an Inkjet OnDemand! (On Demand 2007)

It is Not an Inkjet OnDemand!

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 10, 2007

It is Not an Inkjet OnDemand! Commentary by Andrew Tribute April 10, 2007 -- Yesterday, in Noel Ward's review of next week's OnDemand event he states, HP's Larry Tracy is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion, "Is Inkjet the Technology Story for 2007?" on April 18. Given the pace of change in inkjet, this could be a good session. I would like to follow on about this subject and state that inkjet will not be the technology story of 2007, but it will be in 2008. As has been predicted before next year's biggest print show will be the inkjet drupa that starts on May 29, 2008. While we are seeing a number of key inkjet announcements this year, 2008 and at drupa in particular will see a significant number of new inkjet product launches, together with such products becoming available. Inkjet will not be the technology story of 2007, but it will be in 2008 In referring to inkjet printers I am excluding wide format and super-wide format inkjet printers and plotters. This is already a very well established area of the market where inkjet is the only real technology used and where there are a large number of well-established and creditable suppliers. My reference to inkjet printers is in the office and production color spaces. There will be a number of new or new to North America inkjet product launches. One of these will be the IBM Infoprint 5000 duplex printing system that was previewed in Switzerland earlier this year at the Hunkeler Innovation Days event. In fact in reality this is not the first time this product has been shown in North America. It was a technological preview at GraphExpo last Fall. What will be interesting at OnDemand will be to see how far IBM and possibly Ricoh have converted this from a the Screen Truepress Jet520 from where the print engine is sourced, to a full IBM system with IBM's own controller and applications software. It will also be interesting to hear when IBM plan to make this product available, and whether this will be in 2007. In terms of established inkjet systems that are shipping today, there will most likely be a number of products on display. The one product I still believe shows the real future potential of the market is one that was introduced in 2004 and still has to be challenged by any competitive product. This is the RISO HC5500 printer that prints 120 Letter size pages in full color per minute, where the systems price is in the region of $50,000, and the price per color print is claimed to be around 3¢. This shows what can be achieved with inkjet technology and the printer is using printheads that are now two generations earlier than the heads available today. I would not be surprised to see an enhanced version of this printer for drupa next year. At the top-end of the color inkjet market Kodak's Versamark products still are unchallenged in terms of raw print speed, and also one has to say in terms of real high acquisition prices. At the top-end of the color inkjet market Kodak's Versamark products still are unchallenged in terms of raw print speed, and also one has to say in terms of real high acquisition prices. The cost per print however is perhaps the lowest in the industry. Expect nothing significantly new to be announced by Kodak in this area of inkjet printing. Kodak will be pushing new xerographic printing systems under their brand name at OnDemand. Screen USA will be showing their Truepress Jet 520 which is now installed at a number of sites around the world, including I understand at one of North America's largest printers. This printer shows what can be achieved with modern drop-on-demand piezo printheads. I feel that in the next year we will see a number of similar products to this come to market. One product that is similar to the Screen Truepress Jet 520 is the Agfa Dotrix and Dotrix Transcolor. This is a 25-inch wide color printer available in simplex and duplex modes of operation. I see that Agfa is not an exhibitor at OnDemand so it is unlikely that this product will be at the show. One of the major discussions that is going on in the area of inkjet technology concerns new printheads. Xaar has launched its new 1001 head (referred to as Side Shooter) and this will be seen at OnDemand in a unique application. This comes from PAT Technology Systems and is their Digital UV Coating System. This is a product that prints with UV coating into digitally specified areas of a sheet. With the increasing demand for specialized coating of sheets this is a very interesting product. Later this year we will see the first printing systems using this new Xaar head come to market. One of the major discussions that is going on in the area of inkjet technology concerns new printheads. In drop-on-demand inkjet printing there is a lot of debate about the two technologies, piezo and thermal, and which will be most suited for future applications. In the thermal camp the market leader is HP and they are in the process of bring their latest printhead Edgeline to market. The first printer type product using this is understood will be introduced later this week and I would expect to see it at OnDemand. This is under non-disclosure, but HP has rather let the horse out of the stable before shutting the door by letting its engineers put engineering information about this product on their web site. Don't bother to look as it has now been removed, but despite this I will obey their NDA. Edgeline however is a very interesting technology which is well described on HP's web site and one can see from the Edgeline White Paper that HP is likely to bring out printers with speeds in excess of 70 pages/min using Edgeline printheads. (I will be writing in future in more depth on this). Recently we have also seen announcements of another new thermal inkjet technology from Silverbrook Research with their Memjet printhead. Don't expect to see anything at OnDemand using this printhead. Unfortunately because of a conflict of dates I will not be at OnDemand this year. Instead I am moderating a huge Xerox Europe event in Rome. I know Boston is a great place but Rome in the Spring with an ongoing visit to Tuscany seems to have a greater attraction. What do you think of Andy's view? Please offer your feedback to Andy via email: tribute@attributes.co.uk.

 

 

Wide Format Editor

Richard Romano

Richard Romano, Section Editor/Senior Analyst
Richard has written about communication, graphics hardware and software trends for the past 15 years.

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