Printronix Supports Old-Fashion Printing - InformationWeek

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6/23/2010
07:11 PM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
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Printronix Supports Old-Fashion Printing

New P7000 Cartridge Line Matrix Printer promises longer ribbon life. And yes, ribbons still have a place, especially outside the office.

New P7000 Cartridge Line Matrix Printer promises longer ribbon life. And yes, ribbons still have a place, especially outside the office.Printers are often associated with pristine offices-but what about the loading dock? There you want to crank out paper with a machine that can solder on untroubled despite heat, humidity, dirt, and neglect. You also want a machine that can generate multi-part carbon forms, so that whoever signs the top one is signing them all. Forget lasers-you want a matrix printer.

Printronix continues to serve this market, and its new P7000 line of cartridge line matrix printers literally offers a twist: the ribbon is actually a mobius strip with only one side.

Andy Scherz, Printronix' director of product marketing for the printers, in Irvine, Calif., explained that ribbon is turned into a mobius strip by twisting one end 180 degrees before gluing it to the other end. As it cycles through the cartridge, both sides eventually face the paper. Also, the edge facing the top eventually faces the bottom. The increase in usable ribbon life varies from 130 percent to 260 percent, he said. (Printronix, incidentally, is not the first to configure ribbons as mobius strips.) Previous versions of the P7000 used ribbons on spools.

Meanwhile, we need to explain that a line matrix printer is first of all a matrix printer, which creates characters out of dots made by hammers hitting the paper through a ribbon. A line matrix printer does a full line of dots (or spaces) at a time. Scherz said that in this case each hammer covers about a quarter inch horizontally. The overall resolution is about 180 dots per inch. Vertical coverage is accomplished by stepping the paper forward by precise increments, with an overall speed of 500 to 2,000 lines per minute. A page is usually about 60 lines.

Prices range from $4,000 to $18,000, Scherz said. The smaller, cheaper units are nosier (about 60 decibels) and are intended for factory settings, he said. The fancier ones have an anti-noise enclosure, bringing them down to about 50 decibels, so they should not be offensive in an office.

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