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1/9/2011
06:24 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
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Will Memjet Printers Be Disruptive?

The OEM printer vendor was showing its fast inkjet technology at CES, and it's expected to reach retail this year.

The OEM printer vendor was showing its fast inkjet technology at CES, and it's expected to reach retail this year.As publicized at the recent CES, the new technology from San Diego-based Memjet has two things going for it: it's fast and its ink is cheap. Will that be enough to disrupted the SMB printer market? Short answer: no, but there should be place in the market for it.

Basically, it uses an inkjet print head that is as wide as the paper, with about 70,000 nozzles. The paper just has to slide under it, allowing an output of one page per second. Retail units are expected to be priced in the $500 to $600 range. Ink per color page is expected to be 5 cents per page, whereas the price with low-end models is closer to 25 cents per page.

As for the ink price, the low-end business model used by the major printer vendors is to sell the units cheap and then make their money on the price of the refill ink. This is not the case in the mid-range, which is where the Memjet's price puts it. And any SMB printer user who needs high-speed output has not been bothering with the low end. So Memjet will fit in, rather than be disruptive.

But you'd think that the major vendors would have long ago adopted the idea of a full-width print head, if only to cut down on the number of moving parts. Barring some inherent problem with large print heads, surely the approach will lead to more reliable units.

Anyway, Memjet has announced three vendors that will be bring out its technology this year: Lenovo in China, WeP Peripherals Ltd. in India, and Kpowerscience Co., Ltd. in Taiwan. Presumably, some of these will also show up in the US.

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