When purchasing printers or multifunction copiers for an office, trade-offs are typically made. Is the speed appropriate for a workgroup or a department? Is color or monochrome output sufficient? If color, would ink technology or the faster laser technology be better?
Typically, if color output is needed, the user must decide between the photo quality of an ink technology or the slightly more grainy output of a color laser. Of course, the color laser can print much faster than the ink technology so that is also a factor. If a large volume of output is necessary, the user must choose a color laser because ink printing is just too slow and ink machines are not built to handle volumes of paper. In many cases however, laser printing is more costly to print (per page) than ink technology.
Edgeline technology from Hewlett Packard promises to deliver the best of both ink and laser technologies. It will bring low machine cost, low operating costs, fast print speeds and photo quality output.
What is Edgeline?
Edgeline is the result of 4 years and 1.4 billion dollars of research and development by Hewlett Packard. What they created was a patented process to economically manufacture an inkjet printhead that spans the entire width of a printed page. This means that during printing, only the paper moves not the printhead. Combined with new ink formulations, the speed of the printer can be increased to 71 pages per minute with outstanding image quality. The printheads are very reliable, designed to last for 2 million printed pages or the useful life of the machine itself.
Three Key Elements
The three main features of this system are a printhead that spans the entire printed page, moving the paper under the fixed printhead, and an ink system that can adapt to different requirements. The new ink contains colorants that immobilize rapidly on the paper to ensure consistent dot size, high color saturation, and high optical density. Prints dry rapidly at 70+ pages-per-minute, resist smear (even from a highlighter) and are water resistant.
Will the quality be good?
Edgeline technology also includes intelligent and self-calibrating writing systems to deliver consistent image quality. The printheads are designed to print at 1200dpi. This equals the best native resolutions of current products. The printheads also know when a specific nozzle is acting up and it's duties can be passed to an adjacent nozzle. There will also be a 2-pass option for further increasing print quality.
Will it be more expensive?
Pricing has not been released as of the date of this writing, but the base technology is already in use and HP is promising best-in-class operating costs as well as reliability, quality and speed. The machine itself should not cost more than current color laser MFPs due to the much simpler mechanics. There will be no high voltage power supply, laser scanner mechanisms, transfer belts, or fuser assemblies. And those are just the major components. In fact, the machine will only need to move paper passed the printheads. This is much simpler than any current design.
When will it arrive?
Multifunction devices utilizing this technology are expected to be shipping during the second quarter of 2007. Because of all its advantages, it is very likely that you will see this technology in an office near you before the end of this year.
Jim MacKay is the technical director for The TMH Corporation - an HP Business Partner and reseller of HP printer supplies .