New Epson Inkjet Printers Take On Lasers, Using Giant Ink Bags
Three-pint bags of Ink arm Epson inkjet printers to outlast laser printers, and the Workforce Pro models use less power in the process
Recent history has seen ever cheaper laser printers pushing downwards into the traditional low-end territory of inkjet printers. Epson plans to push inkjet technology in the reverse direction, taking on enterprise laser printers with a new inkjet range that uses less energy, and prints huge quantities at a low cost, thanks to a huge replaceable ink pack.
The WorkForce Pro can churn out 75,000 pages from one replaceable bag which holds three pints of ink. The printer range and the Replaceable Ink Pack System (Rips) massively increase the number of pages between refills, and use far less energy than lasers, Epson said at a launch event in Vienna.
Bags of prints
RIPs cartridges look like the inserts bag-in-a-box party packs of wine. There is one bag for each of the four colours, and the bags have been designed to be easy to replace, as well as cleaner and simpler than replenishing a laser, said Epson EMEAR vice president for marketing Rob Clark (pictured).
In Vienna, a randomly selected journalist was invited to replace one of the bags and did so without any difficulty in a matter of seconds.
Actual print output will be dependent on the nature of the printing involved, and the units can handle A3 and A4 paper sizes, said Clark.
The range includes smaller workgroup printers – the WorkForce Pro 3000, 4600 and 7000 series – and the larger 5600 and 8000 machines designed for departments which have a greater throughput or need centralised, shared print resources.Across the ranges, there are 15 models in all but they share a new print engine based on the more robust PrecisionCore ink printer engines used in Epson’s industrial-class fabric and label printers.
The hardware also appears to use much less power than laser equivalents. In Vienna, Epson linked an exercise bicycle to a generator to power one of the new printers. A page was printed with the demonstrator cycling at around 11 miles per hour (18km/h) and Epson calculated that to power a laser printer would require the cyclist to pedal at 60 miles per hour (100km/h) – which could not be demonstrated.
The business printers will only be available through Epson’s channel and prices were not announced. Clark told ChannelBiz that the company will allow the partners to work out their own customer contracts but this hints at a hiring system rather than an outright hardware sale backed by an ongoing consumables replacement proposition. Clark said printer prices may be revealed but the cost of each Rips pack will not.
“They will be sold as part of a bigger contract which will include other things,” he said. “What we are saying is that we are going to leave it to the channel to define the pricing that’s declared. My expectation is that it will be built-in as a monthly or quarterly charge or on a click base.”
Unfortunately, the printers were revealed to the press a day before the channel partners arrived, so no further pricing and contract deal information will be available for the time being.