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 user 2006-11-27 at 10:09:00 am Views: 63
  • #17007

    Printer or copier: which holds the edge?
    HP’s upcoming `Edgeline’ technology may be an inflection point for imaging technology
    TO the frenetic pace of change in the world of computers, life has been
    much more laid back in the business of its principal peripheral: the
    printer.Truly remarkable technological breakthroughs have been few and
    far between, particularly in the last quarter century. Consider the
    major landmarks in printer history, some of which also impacted copier
    technology: Chester Carlson and Otto Kornei jointly invented a copying
    process based on electrostatic energy as early as 1937. It was not
    until 1949 that it was turned into a commercial copier by the Haloid
    Company that was later known by the name of the product: Xerox.

    Print engine
    original laser printer was also conceived at the Xerox Palo Alto
    Research Centre in 1969 and released as the Xerox 9700 in 1977. The
    Japanese Canon created a print engine for a desktop laser printer and
    sold the technology to Hewlett Packard — a company synonymous with (and
    often mistakenly credited with inventing) the modern commercial laser
    printer.The dot matrix printer was introduced in 1971 by Digital
    Equipment Corporation (DEC), printing 80 columns using a matrix of 5 by
    7 dots for each character.In 1979, the inkjet printer was invented at
    HP Labs , but the first commercial inkjet printer — the Thinkjet — had
    to wait till 1984. The year also saw the launch of the first HP
    Laserjet.One interesting variant of the laser printer was pioneered by
    the Japanese maker Oki in 1987: the LED printer replaced the laser with
    a dense array of light emitting diodes.

    An alternative
    1987, HP introduced the Paintjet, the first colour inkjet printer,
    while QMS launched the first colour laser printer, ColourScript Laser
    1000 in 1993. Epson has created an alternative to the heated bubble
    inkjet process using the piezo-electric effectThe 1990s and the early
    years of this century have seen little by way of innovation with the
    possible exception of Canon’s development of ink droplets as small as a
    picolitre (1 trillionth of a litre) — and PictBridge, a new standard to
    directly connect digital cameras to printers.But HP announced a new
    breakthrough technology for ink-based printers that promises to make
    them not only as fast as laser printers but as the best copiers
    available today.Lyra Research, an independent U.S.-based analyst hosted
    a global Webcast where it carefully evaluated the claims made by HP and
    concluded that this might just turn out to be an inflection point where
    printers challenge the colour copier industry by matching their speed,
    performance and what is called TCO: the total cost of ownership.The
    technology is called Edgeline and it is in some ways quite radical: In
    the inkjet printers of today, a small matchbox-sized print head, moves
    across the width of the printer, inking a line at a time. Once a line
    is printed, the carriage advances the paper by the width of a line and
    the print head prints the next line.Edgeline simplifies this
    drastically — by using a print head that is as wide as the width of the
    paper. This way, the entire page width is inked at one go — and only
    the paper advances from line to line, leaving the print head
    stationary.By cutting the moving elements by half, the printer saves on
    mechanical complexity and allows pages to be printed at speeds up to 70
    pages per minute (ppm) — and up to 100 ppm in light production models.
    Additionally the number of nozzles in this much-wider print head can be
    increased to over 10,000, producing a laser-like sharpness.Lyra’s
    senior analyst Steve Reynolds mentions that the Kodak and Olympus-Riso
    have similar wide-print head solutions for the high-end ink based
    printers — but he sees the real disruption from Edgeline coming in the
    copier arena.HP has deployed Edgeline in the printers at the back of
    the Photosmart Express Station digital printing kiosks in the U.S. —
    though the width is just enough for a 4 x 6 inch print.In early 2007,
    it is expected to unveil the first photo printers and standard width
    multi function printers using Edgeline — and eventually the technology
    may allow it to challenge the light production printer/copier market.

    Imaging innovation
    as promised, the TCO of an Edgeline printer is indeed significantly
    lower, it might be time to take back what we said about the dearth of
    innovation in the imaging business.