Phipps: The big benefit is that print providers can offer more unique applications to their clients. Applications printed on fabric typically sell for more and costs less to produce, but not everyone is doing it…yet. Plus, they can go after new customers in other markets to expand their business.
4) How have sustainability issues affected the market?
Reamer: Sustainability has helped continue the success of aqueous because they are safer for the environment then solvent inks and still provide very good quality.
Kaufman: Sustainability is important, however it tends to not be as big a priority for those struggling with economic concerns, as being green to date has typically added costs, but not contributed to bottom-line profits. However, when a product has comparable features and pricing as well as a sustainable or environmental message attached, customers are interested.
Aqueous printers offer a range of positive aspects in regard to sustainability – they don’t have heaters and are low in overall energy use compared to competing technologies. Epson’s aqueous printing solutions also offer inks that have low VOCs, no known carcinogens and are highly reliable, so the replacement cycle is long. Overall aqueous inkjet printing solutions pose very little in the way of environmental impact.
Another area of consideration would be the recycling of used inkjet cartridges. Epson offers its customers the option of sending in their used cartridges for recycling by our approved recycling vendor. Epson utilizes a waste-to-energy (thermal) process to dispose of the cartridges through one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally responsible facilities in the world, where the energy captured during the process is turned into electrical energy and sold to households in the greater Los Angeles, CA area.
DuPaul: Increased focus on sustainability is helping the aqueous printing market grow because water-based inks often have an attractive environmental profile relative to the alternatives. Latex inks are rapidly being adopted as an alternative to eco-solvent, low-solvent and even full-solvent inks. Prints produced with HP Latex Inks are high quality, and are just as durable for indoor and outdoor applications as these solvent options. Additionally, these inks can print on a wide range of alternatives to PVC media, including uncoated textiles, and produce odorless prints, suited for restaurants, food stores and other locations where print odor may be of concern. HP PVC-free Wallpaper printed with HP Latex Inks meets the Greenguard Children & Schools standard for indoor emissions. Furthermore, the inks help create a better working environment for operators since they require no special ventilation, no hazard labels and are non-flammable. They also contain no Hazardous Air Pollutants, reducing their impact on the broader environment.
Phipps: No doubt that green is in. The greener the better, but only if it is at a comparable cost and can meet the demands of the customer. For example, you can’t take aqueous inks outside in the sun or on a vehicle and have them last as long as our eco-solvent inks do today.
5) What do you see coming next for wide-format aqueous printers?
Reamer: We cannot discuss our future roadmap, but it is safe to say that future printers are being developed with the end user in mind and how large-format printing can become easier, more efficient and cost effective for those users.
Kaufman: Due to the high reliability and quality achievements of aqueous printers over the years, most users are not looking to replace printers that continue to produce sellable output day after day. However, while print quality already meets or exceeds most expectations, it is expected that future generations will improve – such as producing more while maintaining quality. Like Epson’s UltraChrome HDR White ink, new and highly innovative aqueous ink technologies will continue to drive hardware into new vertical markets and provide areas for growth and profitability.