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 user 2007-03-21 at 10:20:00 am Views: 77
  • #17445

    Fast-forward to very fast inkjet printers
    industry tracker Lyra Research offered a glimpse last week into a
    historically secretive firm that may be responsible for the next
    shake-up of the inkjet printer market.Silverbrook Research, an
    Australian research-and-development firm, has received more than 1,000
    U.S. patents in the last decade and more than 400 last year related to
    inkjet technology, said Steve Hoffenberg, Lyra’s director of consumer
    imaging research, in a Lyra Web cast.The result is a technology –
    dubbed Memjet — that offers print speeds that double those of most
    current desktop inkjet printers and exceed the speeds of many laser
    printers currently in the market.The speed, you ask? A page — which
    can include color text, photos and graphics — every second.”Our
    initial reaction when we saw this demo was ‘Holy smokes,’” said
    Hoffenberg, who said he met with officials of Silverbrook Research and
    showed pictures and video of some potential printer prototypes in the
    presentation.The technology has not been publicly unveiled and remains
    a mystery to most in the industry. Kia Silverbrook, the chairman and
    CEO of Silverbrook Research, plans to discuss the technology at the
    Global Ink Jet Printing Conference this week in the Czech Republic.The
    Memjet name refers to “mems,” or microelectromechanical systems. Most
    inkjet technology, Hoffenberg said, already fits the broader definition
    of the term.The technology utilizes wider printheads — 8 inches in the
    case of a letter-size printer — rather than current printheads that
    are often part of the replacement cartridges that consumers purchase.

    technology also uses powerful microchips that reduce the time it takes
    a printer to process information, like photos, sent to it from a
    computer.”Essentially the computer does not have to wait for processing
    to output,” he said.Silverbrook, Hoffenberg said, plans to license the
    technology to a series of companies it has set up that would then
    license it to other firms.Eventual products could include home
    printers, photo printers, wide-format printers and much more.The home
    inkjet printer could be priced as low as $199, Hoffenberg said, and
    would include five ink tanks — prototypes show the tanks hold about
    five times more ink than the typical cartridge today — that could be
    priced less than $20 each.A design for a photo printer, with a possible
    price of about $149, Hoffenberg said, could print 30 photos a minute at
    a cost of about 10 to 20 cents per print.He added the printers shown to
    him offered competitive print quality.And with licensing as the only
    barrier, it could open the printer market up to new firms that wouldn’t
    have to undergo the capital investment of existing players like
    Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark International, Canon and Epson.”In one fell
    swoop, essentially, a whole new set of competitors will have the
    ability to take inkjet desktop products and other products to market,”
    Hoffenberg said.Lyra suggested that firms including computer makers,
    office equipment manufacturers and consumer electronics firms could be
    interested in the technology.The existing printer companies may also
    consider licensing the technology, Hoffenberg said.A video of a
    prototype home Memjet inkjet printer at work is available online at
    http://www.lyra.com/lh3m.nsf/memjet.”It’s definitely for real,” Hoffenberg
    said. “The video isn’t faked at all.”Lyra Research President Charles
    LeCompte offered another perspective.”I’ve been in this business for 20
    years,” he said, “and I haven’t seen anything as mind-boggling as this.”

    Paperwork solutions
    Lexmark-specific news, the Lexington-based printermaker announced last
    week that it has collaborated with another company to produce the first
    FBI-certified color printer solution for fingerprint cards.Working with
    Mentalix Inc., the companies have launched a program that allows law
    enforcement agencies to print color images, boundaries and fingerprints
    on a blank sheet of card stock, Lexmark noted in a news release.Such a
    technique can replace current processes that see agencies reproduce
    fingerprints on separate pre-printed cards and then attach those to
    other information.The system works with Lexmark’s C524 and C534 color
    laser printers and is also FBI-certified for the T640 monolaser
    family.This newest announcement is one of several in recent weeks
    thathighlights efforts by Lexmark’s Printing Solutions and Services
    Division to use the company’s printers to address paperwork problems in
    various industries.The company has long had a strong presence in
    industries such as pharmacies, where it’s offered programs that allowed
    for easier printing of information such as labeling for pharmaceutical
    bottles and the printed material that accompanies them.Recent
    announcements by the company also include initiatives aimed at law
    offices and hospitals.For attorneys, Lexmark has partnered with cost
    recovery firm Copitrak to introduce a program for Lexmark’s laser
    multi-function printers that lets attorneys assign actions such as
    scanning or copying a document to specific client accounts.And coming
    in April, Lexmark will unveil the Lexmark Clinical Assistant.Designed
    for a laser multi-function printer, the program lets hospital
    employees, at the press of an icon, scan documents into electronic
    medical records, route physician orders to hospital pharmacies and
    more.”Clearly, we believe that our heritage of providing tailored
    solutions for vertical industries has been and continues to be a
    strength of the company,” said Lexmark spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick