Epson Business Inkjets: Bags of Channel Potential? By Louella Fernandes

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Hoping to compensate for declining consumer inkjet businesses, vendors such as HP, Brother and Epson are expanding their focus on the lucrative business market.  Once the stronghold of laser printers, business inkjets are emerging as an attractive proposition due to low costs, lower energy consumption and improved performance and reliability.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 8.09.21 AMIndeed, the lines between inkjet and laser are blurring as inkjet technology advances. So how do the technologies compare? Inkjets spray droplets of ink onto paper through tiny nozzles, creating microscopic dots.  Because inkjet ink is typically water based, ink can cause bleeding on paper as it is absorbed, blurring the edges of everyday text. While specialised paper can prevent the bleeds and control drying times, everyday text may not be as sharp on an inkjet as on a laser.

Laser printers use high heat to fuse powdered ink to paper. There is no bleeding effect, because laser toner does not absorb into paper. Prints are smudge-proof and do not require drying time. However, the sharp, crisp edges from a laser may not allow for the same subtle colour gradients required in images that an inkjet can produce.

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 11.43.02 AMLasers typically dominate the office environment due to their speed, high test quality and paper handling capabilities. Meanwhile, the lower initial costs, and image print quality has made inkjets attractive to the consumer. However, the emergence of premium business inkjet printers with higher print quality at lower costs is changing the office printing battleground. According to IDC, the business inkjet market is growing year on year, maintaining growth in years when laser sales have declined.

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 12.45.34 PMSo what has made business inkjet products more attractive to the office?  Probably the strongest advantage over laser products is that inkjet printers are more power efficient than lasers. Traditional laser fusing technology requires a large amount of energy as users wait for printers to power on or wake from sleep. As well as energy savings, inkjet printers require less maintenance over their lifetime – just changing cartridges rather than drums and fusers.

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