Thursday, May 31, 2007

HP Argues The Results of Kodak's Ink Test

TechTalk blogger, Dean Takahashi, presents in his article an argument between HP and Kodak. The cause of the argument was the results of Quality Logic’s test proving that Kodak inks save customers 50% on everything they print. I wrote about this test not so long ago.

He lists a number of HP statements challenging the conditions and results of the test, as well as Kodak’s responses to those statements. I’ll quote one of them:

HP goes:

"QualityLogic’s test did not include all available HP supplies. For example, HP’s Photosmart C4180 offers a larger black supply (HP 95) than what was included in the test, which would have resulted in lower black cost-per-page for HP. What’s more, HP offers many different value pack options that further reduce HP’s cost-of-printing."
For that Kodak replies:
"Kodak chose to test the cartridges that ship with each printer because these are the cartridges that consumers are most likely to purchase. Therefore, the testing was based on individually purchased cartridges. It is also the most practical way to provide an apples-to-apples comparison.

Like HP, Kodak offers a discounted combo cartridge pack, delivering an even lower cost-of-ink and lower cost-per-page to consumers. While this would have provided even better cost-per-page results for Kodak, it would not have supported apples-to-apples comparative testing."
Seems like Kodak does have a weapon to conquer the ink cartridges market, however HP won’t to give up its market share easily.

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Xerox Invisible Fluorescent Printing

Group of Xerox scientists devised a new method for printing hidden fluorescent text using standard printers. The fluorescent text is only visible in ultraviolet light, at the same time it does not require fluorescent toner to print it.

This new method is side product of Xerox’s larger studies to put more security into digitally printed documents by making any element on the page-—such as lines, text, and images-—unique to the recipient. The scientists were playing with differential gloss in a toner to print a hologram-like image, when one of them, Reiner Eschbach, started to wonder if there was any chance to make fluorescent marks using regular toner.

Eschbach's group tried different toner combinations to achieve paper's fluorescence shining when exposed to ultraviolet light. They come to this after they realized most paper already contains fluorescent brightening agents added by manufacturers to make the paper look whiter.

According to the company, the new method of fluorescent printing allows adding more security to commonly printed materials such as checks, tickets, coupons, and other high-value documents.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Interview with HP Vice President Vyomesh Joshi

PC Magazine published an interesting interview titled ‘We Could Ink Jet Anything’ with Vyomesh Joshi titled, executive vice president of HP's Imaging and Printing Group. Simply put, he is the one in charge of HP printer business.

He opens the conversation with a brief overview of how printer business in HP has changed.

“We are focusing on pages. From a page point of view, 48 trillion are printed a year. Now we measure our market share in pages, and we are less than 2 percent. When you start thinking about pages, we have a tremendous opportunity.”
Then he moves to the issue of printing less in the modern online world:
“In 1984 we were promised the paperless office. And in 2006 we are using ten times more paper.”
Also, Vyomesh Joshi tells about new imaging devices coming up, gives his prospect of view on the new implementations of inkjet technology, such as DNA sequencing, 3-D printing and competitors achievements.

As a person who is into printing, I had a great time reading the interview.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Print Greener, Print Cost-Effective, Print Smart

In modern world of electronic communications people still have to do a lot with paper. Course projects, year reports, club flyers, advertisement brochures – all that required paper. In a known fact that paper is made of processed trees. Thus, the more pages is printed, the more trees are cut.

In effort to make printing more environment friendly, GreenPrint Technologies developed a software that would reduce amount paper waste in office printing. Recently launched in United Kingdom, GreenPrint Enterprise software highlights and removes unwanted pages before they are printed, creates PDF files as alternative for printing. Also, it gives a print overview, so users can easily decide what stays and what goes. Besides, the software has other options for ink and toner saving.

GreenPrint Enterprise incorporates a feature that reports how many trees were saved during the use of application. The company estimates that an organization employing 20,000 people could save GBP1.3 million annually, which equals 35.2 million pages or 3,911 trees.

GreenPrint Enterprise software is optionally accompanied with GreenPrint EverGreen Font. This font was specially “designed to allow more words to fit on each printed page without compromising readability. Compared with common fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman and Helvetica, EverGreen reduces paper use by 15-20%.”

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Siemens T100 Teleprinter: Ancestor of Today's Network Printers

Once upon a time, there were neither inkjet nor laser printers. Networked printers, as we know them now, didn’t come to exist either. However, there was technology that allowed a printing task (actually only a text), to be performed by a device in a remote place.

The technology was telegraphy and the device was telex.

Developed in the middle of 19 century, by 1940’s telegraphy had become the most common type of connection between cities, countries, and even continents, so messages could be sent across the globe.

Telegraphic messages were received and printed out by the telex, a special kind of printer that produced a hard copy of a message. One of the most popular telexes was Siemens T100, a page printer that dates way back to the 1960’s. All of the UK military services and on the commercial telex system used Siemens T100 widely.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wireless Mountable Printer

A printer that need no cables and occupies no room on you desktop. Think it's impossible? Absolutely not. Designers at Ransmeier & Floyd developed a wireless printer that can be mounted on the wall. The printer has a frame that printed pictures fall into, which make it a decorative piece of interior design, not only a functional device. The only thing not clear is how this printer is powered. Nothing is said about this and picture shows no power cord. Some say the printer might be battery-powered.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why Do We Pay More For Ink?

Late in April, 2007, an authoritative review website posted the results of one interesting test. They compared inks and paper made by third party manufacturers against those made by printer makers. The goal of the test was to determine if third-party inks and paper provide same level of quality as original manufacturers’.

The printers tested were multifunctional inkjet printers of major brands most common models used by home and small office users, namely Canon PIXMA MP600, Epson Stylus Photo RX640, HP OfficeJet 6310 and Lexmark X5470. The jury comprised of typical printer users rated printouts made of combinations of third-party and original inks and paper on the scale of 1 to 10, where 9 or 10 would be “a print you'd be happy to have as a record of a wedding or important birthday”, and scores below 5 for “prints you would be unlikely to keep because of their quality.”

The testing revealed several amazing facts, but the most important one is this:

The jury scored prints produced with third-party inks higher than those produced with manufacturer’s own products.
That means compatible cartridges of known can generally provide same quality, and in some cases, even better quality then OEM cartridges. I’m not talking about defective unknown brand cartridges or over-refilled cartridges with long-expired duty cycle. Just like everywhere, trust the brand that provide high quality of its products, in our case Cartridge World or InkTecShop.

But the judges are just simple printer users with no technical background, you may argue. Yes, that is true. However, they are exactly who buy ink cartridges, and hence, who pay money. So it’s up to simple users to decide what’s good for them, and them will finally choose what is more savvy

As you know, compatible cartridges cost 25% to 75% less than original cartridges. But I believe it’s vice verse - original cartridges are up to 75% more expensive. Think about this. It makes sense to assume that third-party producers also have research laboratories to devise ink formulation, just like printer brands. Both third-party and original makers have plants to produce cartridges somewhere in third-world country to make them cost-effective. So, where is the catch? Why such price difference?

There’s a good article by Marshall Brain, where he discusses the price of things. In particular, he compares an inkjet cartridge and a microwave oven and finds their prices somewhat equal (as of 2004). He goes on:
“So think about this: The microwave oven contains a microprocessor, the software for the microprocessor, a keypad/display for the microprocessor and a separate power supply for it. The microwave oven also contains a 700 watt Klystron to generate the microwaves, the waveguides for Klystron and the high-voltage power supply it needs. Then there is the door, the hinges, the latch, the safety interlocks on the latch, the light, all the internal fusing, the metal case, the interior, etc. There's also the process of getting UL listed and so on. A microwave oven weighs 30 pounds and once cost thousands of dollars. Mass production has dropped the price on microwaves significantly in the last decade or two.

By comparison, an ink jet cartridge is a piece of plastic, a couple of dozen jets, a little wiring and some ink. The total cost to manufacture is probably less than a dollar. Yet they sell for $38.99.”
When first appeared on the market 20 years ago, a microwave oven cost $1,000 or so. Over years, the price gradually slid down to, well, not $28.44, but $70 for sure, that is 15 times less. On the other hand, over the same 20 years of market presence inkjet cartridges price hardly half-dropped.

No matter how complex, heavy-patented and expensive a product is, once it’s placed on the consumer market, it’s doomed to become cheaper – technology advances, materials improve, and production becomes more effective. It’s just as natural for prices on goods to go down as for humans to age over time.

That does not seem to be the case with printer cartridges.

What is it? A conspiracy of printer makers? An ‘anti-customer’ marketing strategy? We’ll never know. Bad thing is we’ve been dealing with it for too long. Good thing is there is always an alternative – the compatibles.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

3-D Printer Makes... Candies!

—Daddy, I want a candy!
—Go print it yourself, sweety!
That kind of dialog you might expect to take place soon.

You must remember crazy inventors from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. They develop the idea of making fancy-looking food with modern printing technologies.

Their new invention, CandyFab 4000, is evolution of a 3-D printer with a hot-air gun mounted as a printerhead. CandyFab 4000 was hand-made and only cost $500 in parts plus labor. Overall cost of 3-D printer production is somewhat $1000, way cheaper than $5000 for DesktopFactory three-dimensional printer.

It uses same stack-of-layers technology to create three-dimensional objects. This time, they chose granulated sugar instead of toner to create candies of fancy shapes: a coil, a wooden screw and a polygonal.

Amazing is the cost of the “printouts”. For example, the wooden screw is 20 inches long and weighs about 2.5 pounds, however the total cost of used sugar is $0.93!

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Kodak Inks Are Proved to Be Cost-Effective

In February, 2007 Kodak released a new type of inks. The inks were claimed to make printout more durable (up to 100 years) and cost-effective (up to 50%). Recently, Kodak unveiled unveiled ink yield test results and cost-per-page analysis.

The tests were conducted by a side company, QualityLogic Inc. They compared Kodak 5300 All-in-One printer inks yield against that of 12 printers of other leading brands. Testing included printing of both black-and-white and color documents and photos.

Based on results of inks yield test, Kodak made its own analysis of ink cost per page, comparing cost of ink for all modes tested. The results of this analysis proved that Kodak multifunction printers could print more pages per $5 of ink every time.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

A 1,350 Pages-Per-Minute Printer

When I saw this number first, I couldn't believe this could be. April 17, 2007, Oce, a company producing printers for professional high-volume applications, announced a high-speed printer. New member of Oce VarioStream 9000 family can print at speed of up to 1,350 pages per minute in black-and-white, which is 22.5 pages per second!

With Oce VarioStream 9240 printer speed-or-quality dilemma is no longer relevant for the new device feature both, they say.

Just like all ultra high-volume printing devices, the printer is huge:

I never dealt with such devices in real life, and the fastest I heard of were about 200 pages per minute. I couldn't find anything on the construction of this printer, so I wonder how such speed of 1.350 ppm achieved. Probably, it has several printing units combines into one or something.

I can't imagine how much toner it consumes a month.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New Large-Format Color Printer by OKI

Okidata announced C8800 Series printer, a digital color large-format printer producing up to 11x17 in. printouts in compact design.

The new printer feature greater media control and flexibility, it allows printing banners 11x 47.25 in. which fits fine for architectural renderings and engineering design documents.

The printer is fast; it uses printer toner, produces 26 pages per minute in color and 32 pages per minute in black-and-white at 1200x600 dpi resolution.

OKI C8800 Series printer is built using digital LED Technology and Single Pass Color Technology. The latter allows make products requiring fewer moving parts.

The estimated retail price of the C8800 Series starts at $2399. The printer will be available in North America in June 2007 through Okidata authorized providers.

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Three Dimensions for Your Home

If you ever dreamt of a device that would produce real objects, then your dream is coming true. Three-dimension printers have always been something large, expensive and available only to chosen ones. Until now.

Desktop Factory made 3-D printer smaller, cheaper and more affordable. The company will start selling its first printer for $4,995 this year, and price is expected to fall to $1,000 in next four years. So in the nearest future 3-D printer would be available to home users.

How does the printer actually work, you may ask. The plastic powder, an analogue of toner in regular printers, is dropped on and sticks to a heated roller, where it is fused with a light beam to make an image. Then image is rolled onto metal plate to form a layer. The plate moves down as more layers are stacked to make an object. When the object is created, the plate moves up to squeeze the layers under heat and fuse them. (Pictures taken from

The printing method is yet to be improved, because the model makes objects with rather jagged edges and rather sandy finish that many do not find attractive, NY Times story tells. But there is demand that does not require high quality and cannot afford large printers.

The picture above shows what kind of object the new 3-D printer can create. They say more 3-D objects blueprints will be available later on the Internet for people to download and create.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

"Gelly" Printers by Ricoh

Ricoh UK introduced a new range of desktop printers using gel-based color-system. The new Ricoh Aficio GX3000, GX3050N and GX5050N have a high speed of printing, up to 30 pages per minute in monochrome and color. The speed could be compared to the speed of laser printers, but the price is more like that of inkjets.

Ricoh proprietary GelSprinter Technology uses pigment-based liquid gel that sits on the media surface, but not diffuses into it as inks do. The company says the printouts are fast to dry and waterproof, which makes a double-side printing possible. Besides, the printers feature Electrostatic Belt Feeding System that is supposed to hold paper firmly in place and prevent paper jams.

New printers use special gel cartridges of standard (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) color. One color cartridge yields 1,150 pages, while a black cartridge is enough to print 1,450 papers, as stated on Ricoh site. Priced £28.45 and £22.45 (approximately $57 and $45) for color and black cartridge, respectfully, these cartridges are somewhat in the middle between ink and laser printer cartridges, when it comes to yield/cost effectiveness.

We shall see if this gel technology proves to be viable.

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How Would You Like Your Toast? – Printed!

Many areas of human life have enjoyed the printing technologies – medicine, electronics and so on. However, as time goes by, printing finds new, absolutely unexpected areas of application. This time it all started with fun, when guys from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories used a hot-air gun to make images on a slice of toast.

Not satisfied with results of hand drawing, they decided to mount the hot-air gun to the carriage of a 3D printer they built for their previous project. Since toast printing does not require third dimension, Z-axis of the printer was disabled. With hot-air gun used as a printhead, they achieved a resolution of 10 dots per inch (2.5 mm pixel size).

Also, the printer was could make photo images on a toast, which required some additional adjusting (air flow rate, temperature, etc.) of printer hardware, actually the hot-air gun.

Below is a video of how toast is printed using digital toast imaging technology.

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