HP has announced its intention to develop a page wide inkjet array for wide format printing, but it won’t be available until late next year. HP has previously created a single pass array by staggering multiple 4.25ins printheads together for its Inkjet Web Press, and has also developed 8.57ins page wide printheads for its OfficeJet Pro X series.
The new array consists of a number of new 5.08ins, or 129mm, head that can be clipped together. HP can make different widths such as putting eight heads together for a 40ins, or 1016mm, print width. The 5.08ins heads use HP’s existing thermal inkjet technology, which means that each head actually consists of a number of staggered inkjet chips or dies. These heads have 25,344 nozzles or around 1200 nozzles per inch native resolution. They use CMYK pigment inks and will be used to develop printers for the technical document market.
HP’s press release claims that this will disrupt the market, though there are already several wide format printers using a high speed Memjet page wide array, including Canon’s ColorWave 900 and the Xerox IPJ2000. HP has been rather vague on the details and I’ve not managed so far to find anyone in management who could explain why they thought this announcement was going to be any more disruptive than those single pass wide format printers that already exist. Indeed, this announcement sounds suspiciously like HP attempting to stake some kind of claim to a market place that it is already badly behind in.
What would be genuinely disruptive is if HP had managed to jet its latex inks through this head. That would pave the way for a single pass printer suitable for outdoor signage, thus addressing the major weakness of the Memjet printhead, whilst simultaneously leaving every other wide format printer looking decidedly slow. Since the current latex printers also use the same thermal printhead technology it doesn’t seem like this would be too far off.
HP also announced two new wide format designjet printers, aimed at the technical documents market. The T3500 is a 36-inch eMFP printer with a fast processor and a scanner with batch-scanning, multipage PDF creation and scan-to-email capabilities. It also includes a self-encrypting hard drive, secure disk erase and controlled access printing.
The T7200 is a 42ins printer that can take three heavy media rolls and produce both colour and black-and-white prints on a wide range of media, from bond to glossy photo paper. HP claims that this offers a low cost of operation, comparable to monochrome LED printers.