MEMJET PRINTER REVOLUTION DELAYED
MEMJET PRINTER REVOLUTION DELAYED
2008-08-28 at 1:37:40 pm #20559
Memjet print head revolution delayed
It will now be next year before the first printer using innovative technology developed by Silverbrook Research goes on sale.
Silverbrook promised in March 2007 that new printers based on its
revolutionary Memjet technology would hit the market this year, but a
move away from a small-format photo printer to letter-size has pushed
back the launch date.
That Memjet technology now promises a 60-page a minute letter-sized colour printer for less than $400.Bill McGlynn, chief executive of Silverbrook’s US-based subsidiary,
Memjet Home and Office, says there are a couple of reasons for the
switch away from a photo printer.One is that volume sales of small photo printers are dropping,
“meaning that customers were voting that they would rather go some
place and have their photos printed rather than trying to print them at
Secondly, getting almost perfect quality printing in a very small
format proved a tough challenge with a nascent technology, so the
company decided to go first of all for a letter-size printer.”You don’t have to have absolutely perfect quality on the first
version of the technology if you are aiming at the home and office,”
McGlynn says.A photo printer is still on the cards, as is a wide-format machine for printing posters, and one for labels.
Silverbrook also has a mobile phone format prototype.
According to McGlynn, Silverbrook has been working 13 years on the
Memjet technology, the secret of which is a print head that spans the
width of the page and prints the entire page in a single pass.The print head consists of a continuous row of 1mm by 20mm silicon print chips connected end-to-end.
Each chip contains 6400 nozzles, equalling 32,000 nozzles in total
for a 100mm print head and 70,400 nozzles for a letter-size print head.Silverbrook says nozzle density is 17 times higher than the nozzle density offered by the market leaders in their print heads.Silverbrook is not interested in manufacturing final products itself and is looking or partners to bring the printers to market.
Perhaps not surprisingly, traditional printer companies have not
been banging on Silverbrook’s door to incorporate the Memjet technology
in their lines.It would disrupt their pricing models, says McGlynn, as the likes of
Hewlett-Packard and Canon would charge about $1000 for a 60ppm printer.Consequently, the company is partnering with consumer electronics companies keen to enter the printer market.
McGlynn will not name the partners but says they are brand-name
consumer electronics companies anxious to get their hands on the final
version of the Memjet technology so they can have product to ship early
next year.Meantime in Sydney, Silverbrook, which says it employs more than 400
scientists, engineers and support staff, has a growing list of
vacancies on its website as it works on development of print head
prototypes that will eventually be manufactured in Taiwan and China.
The company is looking for 45 engineers, scientists and even lawyers – up from 30 in May.
US-based printer industry consultant Jim Lyons says traditional printer companies are snubbing the technology.Lyons, who like McGlynn, is an HP veteran, says: “It took
Silverbrook 10 years to get to the point where they were last year. It
is reasonable to take two years from then to get a really wrung-out
product that people can sell.”