Epson: The end is in sight for laser printers

Laser printers, for years the choice of businesses because of their speed, their low costs per copy and their high volume of printed output, will be replaced by inkjets – or so says Epson, who report that they are reinvesting seven per cent of their annual revenues into inkjet research and development.

It is a little-known fact that Epson, unlike most of the company’s competitors, do not own any of the technology involved in any laser printer. Instead it licenses third party technology for its range of laser printers, and this prevents it from differentiating itself from the rest of the market. The company’s long-term strategy has become apparent in recent months: It seems they are becoming an inkjet-only manufacturer.

Thinking long-term

Epson are busily at work providing the business community, eventually, with a convincing alternative to lasers. They apparently plan to capitalise on the company’s proprietary “piezoelectric” inkjet technology, which is radically different from other inkjet printing systems.

The company introduced its first piezoelectric printer back in 1993, the MJ500, and followed it with the Stylus Color. Epson hopes its latest range of printers – the Workforce Pro, expected to launch in September 2011 – will take inkjet printing to the next level.

This will be a new family of machines, openly targeting business users. Different products will use the same base unit and printer engine, adding various functions such as scanning, Wi-Fi, a touchscreen display, duplex printing, faxing & copying, to suit the demands of different segments of the market.

A convincing alternative to laser printers?

The Workforce Pro products are even designed and built to look like laser printers; big, solid, sturdy and reassuringly heavy with massive cartridges that, Epson says, will halve the cost of printing per page compared to lasers.

According to the company, the Workforce Pro printers are just as reliable as similarly-priced lasers but cost half as much per page to run, and are just as fast if not faster. The high yield cartridges are rated for 3,400 pages.

The initial models won’t support PCL6 or Postscript 3, but this should be rectified soon after the September launch, the company says.

About the author:

James has been a writer all his life. As a technical writer he pioneered online documentation and wrote end-user documentation for several computer manufacturers. His manuals have been praised in PCMagazine and Wired, among others. During a 14 year career in the U.S. navy (as a carrier jet aviator) James wrote a number of technical and classified publications. James has also written two novels and one stage play.

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