*NEWS*THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT PRINT
*NEWS*THE QUEST FOR THE PERFECT PRINT
2005-09-27 at 12:06:00 pm #12949
The quest for the perfect print(bankok)
Printer manufacturers claim they can bring old and fading pictures back to life with their latest technologies
Photographs can be displayed on a large screen display by connecting a compact photo printer to a television.
The Photosmart All-in-One with built-in wireless capability enables you
to share photos automatically, while you can preserve old negatives and
slides with the built-in Transparency Material Adapter.
HP claims the world’s fastest print speed by printing a 4 x 6 photo in 14 seconds.
Everyone has probably got some old photos lying around somewhere,
gathering scratches, fading in colour and generally reacting to the
humidity. Now thanks to technology there might be a chance to bring
those pictures back to their original condition, or close to it, while
your newly printed pics can be expected to endure the conditions better
Negatives, 35mm slides and documents that have been stored for a long
time can now be turned into beautiful photo reprints in seconds.
While major printer makers such as Canon, Epson and HP are all working
in this area, it is Hewlett Packard that has been making the
announcements of late. It has spent US$1.4 billion over the last five
years and turned some lab results into a promising technology called
Scalable Printing Technology, or SPT.
Christopher Morgan, HP Asia Pacific & Japan senior vice president
of Imaging and Printing Group (IPG), explained that the SPT platform is
a combination of performance and scalability for both home and business
users that will be incorporated into all HP’s new inkjet products.
“The SPT is a breakthrough in architecture and manufacturing of the
inkjet printhead. It is a complete new design with all new printing,
new writing system, new cartridge, new ink delivery system and new ink
supply station,” Mr Morgan said, adding that the result is faster
printing; direct and easy photo printing, where users can view, print
and edit photos without a PC; photo printing as low as 25 cents per
photo; as well as true-to-life photo quality that lasts for generations.
Ink delivery is key
According to Nils Miller, HP’s ink and media senior scientist, ink is
the critical component of an inkjet printing system because it has to
interact with many different materials and components _ from ink
cartridges and printheads, to printer service stations and the paper.
It’s possible to print photos wirelessly from a mobile phone _ just
beam and print. You can also free-up the camera phone’s storage by
transferring the shots to the printer’s internal 1.5GB memory.
He said HP Vivera inks had been engineered to be chemically compatible
with the diverse set of materials in the cartridge and to flow and
eject effectively through the complex, highly-tuned components in the
The use of specially designed colourants and other key components in HP
Vivera inks has resulted in ink formulations that deliver exceptional
light fastness while maintaining a large colour range for rich, vibrant
colour and image quality.
The dyes in HP Vivera inks are formulated with a proprietary chemical
structure that increases resistance to light and other degradation
factors. Modifications in the dye structure help prevent deterioration
of the dye molecule by directly screening out light and pollutants.
These unique modifications help stabilise and shield the dye, making it
more resistant to harmful elements.
According to HP, ink purity is essential for delivering performance and
reliability. Delivering purity starts with the ink ingredients. The dye
is a key ingredient for which purity must be carefully managed.
As a first step, HP chemists work to eliminate salts and oils, which
are often added to make the dye easier to transport. These types of
impurities can lead to problems that inhibit the performance of an
inkjet printhead, such as the formation of particulates.
After the salts and oils are eliminated, the dye undergoes a number of
purification steps, including a final chemical process referred to as
ion-exchange chromatography to complete the structure of the dye and a
reverse-osmosis process to further remove salts to the low levels that
HP claims that its ink technology is versatile _ this year,
applications have spanned across three-ink appliances to nine-ink
Photosmart printers built on Scalable Printing Technology.
Mr Miller noted that three shades of grey ink for improved black &
white photo printing and the addition of a new blue ink have allowed HP
to deliver the world’s first nine-ink photo printer.
The Vivera inks in the grey photo cartridge are specially designed to
reduce “metamerism”, a change of colour perception with a change of
illuminant. While other printing systems blend colour inks to create
grey tones, HP Vivera inks remain neutral to prevent unwanted shade
shifts in black and white prints.
HP’s new Photosmart printers built on SPT utilise six individual inks.
Six cartridges, one for each colour, must be in place for the printer
to function _ black, yellow, light cyan, cyan, light magenta, and
The pump works in two directions, moving ink from the replaceable
cartridges to the printhead reservoir, and removing air from the
printhead. The tubes are emptied to reduce evaporation of ink
components and deposits of dried ink. The ink sensor detects when a
cartridge is exhausted.
On the new HP Photosmart 8230 and 3000 series, the printhead contains
3900 nozzles on a single piece of silicon and places millions of
ultra-small drops per second on the media. The onboard reservoir
provides a continuous supply of ink to the printhead.
The reservoir has six chambers, each with an internal regulator to
supply ink to the printhead at constant pressure and prevent ink from
escaping through the nozzles.
The vent chamber separates the ink from the air removed from the
printhead during pumping. The ink is pumped back into the cartridge and
the air is purged from the system.
The ink supply station provides simple cues for correct cartridge
insertions. The cues include colours and icons that match proper
cartridges and mechanical features, and which exclude cartridges of the
While HP is currently trumpeting its SPT technology, rival printer
manufacturers Canon and Epson claim that it is nothing groundbreaking.
Netnarin Chancharassuk, Canon Marketing (Thailand) marketing manager of
consumer system products, claimed that Canon had introduced a similar
concept to HP’s SPT back in 1999 with the BJC8500 model.
The print head system technology of Canon was FINE
(Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) and has been
continuously improved since then.
FINE technology uses a high-performance multi-nozzle print head with up
to 6,144 nozzles that eject consistent and microscopic ink droplets.
Printing speed is also not the first priority, Netnarin said. “For
Canon, speed comes with quality,” she said, noting that its printers
could do “duplex” printing on both sides of a page or to a CD. She also
claimed that Canon was the first vendor to launch individual ink tank
Ms Netnarin added that the fastest speed HP claimed, 14 seconds, was based on a draft mode and required special HP photo paper.
Meanwhile Epson (Thailand) executive director Polpong Ong-worawut made
similar claims, suggesting Epson was the leader in inkjet systems since
it had introduced six individual ink cartridges back in 1998.
“It is not a new technology for Epson at all,” he said, noting that its
six individual ink cartridge technology was now in its second
generation and is present in both its single-function printers and
all-in-one machines. Epson will launch a third generation of the
technology by the end of this year.
Polpong pointed out that its RX630 printer uses an advanced new ink
where the ink particles are strengthened against the damaging effects
of gas and light.
The main focus is on quality, so the speed of the printer may be sacrificed, he said.
Don’t neglect the paper
Meanwhile, another area that HP has been working on is the photo paper.
There are two major types of photo paper coating technology: swellable
and nano-porous coating. The coating absorbs ink through capillary
pressure, which provides rapid ink absorption and instant dry time. The
porous coating is comprised of water-insoluble ceramic pigments, so it
is highly water and scratch resistant.
The dye-based inks that HP uses create a fundamental trade-off between
the two types of paper coating. Swellable papers take longer to dry but
with more fade resistance, while nano-porous papers are instantly dry
and are subject to air fade, which means the photos can fade within
months after printing if exposed to air. When not exposed to air, like
under glass or in a photo album, some nano-porous photo papers last as
long as a lab processed photos.
The multi-layer coating gives the photo paper a higher gloss level, better gloss uniformity and scratch resistance.
From image to print
Leong Han Kong, vice president of HP IPG Asia Pacific and Japan,
suggested that consumers need more choice when it comes to photo
printing. This was also in line with HP’s strategy in branching into
other areas such as kiosk photo printing and online printing.
At the beginning this year, HP acquired Snapfish, a leading online
photo service in the US with more than 13 million members and 350
million unique photos stored online.
Photo kiosks would also be part of HP’s global strategy, according to
Mr Kong, although the company did not disclose when it would roll these
out in the Asia Pacific region.