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 user 2008-06-12 at 10:54:04 am Views: 32
  • #19873

    Inside an inkjet factory

    A feel of the action at the unit of the world’s biggest printer manufacturer.

    Of the technology that goes into an inkjet printer, over 70 per cent
    lies in the ink cartridge… it is no longer just a receptacle storing
    the ink. While the high-end corporate and production printers still use
    separate ink wells, the bulk of the consumer inkjets tend to integrate
    the print head with the ink wells.

    The inkjet manufacturing unit of the world’s biggest printer
    manufacturer, Hewlett Packard in Singapore, accounts for 80 per cent of
    the cartridges that bear the HP stamp and gradually, since 1989, has
    escalated its output to today’s 100 million per quarter, that is about
    a million units a day.

    It is HP’s most vertically integrated factory and interestingly ink
    cartridges are now about the only printer products that the company
    manufactures directly — every thing else is contracted out. Why?
    Because the cartridge remains the most critical component, one on which
    the reputation of the company rides.While integrated print cartridge manufacture is almost totally
    automated, the plant that turns out the separate ink well types still
    sees human intervention in many operations.

    In one respect, both lines are identical as this correspondent saw
    during a recent sponsored visit to the facility: every single unit is
    inspected and tested prior to dispatch. This might add some crucial
    minutes to the production cycle, but it is one way (the only way, say
    insiders) that HP ensures 100 per cent working of its products. In the
    case of the separate ink well type, this involves visual inspection of
    the print head under a microscope.The Singapore unit, which employs 3,200, also manufactures ink for the large format Indigo industrial printers.