Many times with technology, something new and exciting quickly becomes outdated as newer technologies emerge. For us older folks, innovations such as Pong, 8-track tapes, VHS tapes and Walkmans seemed like products that would last forever. Have you tried to buy an 8-track lately? New, better products came along and those products went the way of the dinosaur, relegated to museums. So, why is it that aqueous printers, which were wide-format’s first inkjet technology, still around and, seemingly, doing better than ever? We put this question (and some others) to some of the top manufacturers in the industry. Not only did they solve the mystery, they shared some exciting news about the future of the market.
1) Aqueous printers were wide-format’s first inkjet technology. Why are they still so popular today?
Rich Reamer, Director, Product Marketing ISG Large Format Product Division, Canon USA, Lake Success, NY: The technology has developed so well that the quality is tremendous and they have become as easy to use as home printers. In addition to the quality and ease of use, the cost of the technology has become very affordable in upfront cost as well as cost per print. This combination of high quality, ease of use and cost has helped in the growth of aqueous-based large-format printers.
Larry Kaufman, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc.: Aqueous printers have come a long way if we look at the IRIS products as the first in the professional line. Since then, costs of entry and TCO have come down dramatically, while both ease of use and quality have improved to where the “technology” is imperceptible. When aqueous made the shift from dye-based to pigment-based, the industry gained an ink set that is both short-term stable for color-critical proofing markets (those who live by measured dE values) and long-term stable for photography and fine-art applications. In addition, aqueous printers are available in a wide range of widths and have extensive support from third-party workflow vendors. The bottom line, aqueous printing solutions deliver the speed, quality, reliability, and versatility for today’s indoor printing applications, including signage, backlit displays, photography, and fine-art reproduction
Eric DuPaul, HP Designjet Business Development Manager: Aqueous printers are still very popular due in part to their tremendous ease of use. HP Designjet thermal inkjet technologies, in particular, have proven to be very user friendly. Users can replace ink cartridges and print heads themselves, as needed, versus other printing technology options that require a technician to replace the print heads. The total cost of ownership for an HP Designjet device is also lower than any comparable LED printers because they do not require expensive service and maintenance contracts to keep them running. HP thermal inkjet printers utilize a wide variety of ink technologies, ranging from dye to pigment to Latex inks, ensuring that our customers, be they professional photographers, graphic designers, architects, engineers or print-service providers, achieve the productivity, quality and versatility they need from an easy to use inkjet device. HP thermal inkjet technology also offers a wide color gamut and precise line quality.
Brian Phipps, General Manager, Mutoh America Inc., Phoenix, AZ: Even though they are primarily limited to indoor applications, aqueous printers have actually evolved quite a bit over the years getting faster, less expensive and higher in quality. Aqueous printers do quite well in the photo, CAD and fine-art markets today.