HP Poised for Rebooting Digital Wide Format

At a recent launch event in San Diego, CA HP unveiled plans to “reboot” its wide format digital printing portfolio with a new modular thermal inkjet (TIJ) platform. Additionally HP launched new wide format technical printers, production software, and a single print driver for their DesignJet family, but the headliner was a wide format printer from HP that will compete in the single-pass wide format segment.

The HP single-pass printer doesn’t have an official name yet and is not due to come to market until the second half of 2015, but the announcement is a clear shot across the bow for the companies using memjet print head technology in wide format printers today. HP described this future product with several key differentiators compared to currently available devices:

  • will be 2-3 times faster than current memjet-based devices and twice as fast ad LED devices
  • will use pigment inks for sharpness & durability in support of monochrome as well as color applications
  • will be equipped with a very fast processor and large hard drive to enable file processing at the printer

Today the vendors of memjet-based printers are reporting that they are seeing shipments into mixed environments, with shops using these printers for production of wide format graphics AND wide format technical documents. InfoTrends’ view is that HP has a dominant position in the wide format technical document market and on the wide format graphics side, so this announcement will challenge other vendors because some potential buyers are likely to wait for the HP solution.

This latest announcement from HP is also a direct continuation of their strategy to target key markets for digital conversion. To that end HP is joining many print head manufacturers in developing single pass line printheads that could be used in a range of products and solutions. In HP’s case we have witnessed their T400 Color Inkjet Press delivering color output with 40″ print width in high volume print environments, to their OfficeJet Color Flow delivering effective color output in office environment using TIJ. This new development of a 5.08″ modular 1,200 dpi print head will allow HP to design a range of products that will provide users with speed, flexibility and a range of possible applications that now could be produced in a fraction of the time and/or large quantities.

The single pass, or page-wide category is not new and is in use in high-volume production environment such as graphic arts, and industrial printing. These single pass products are now becoming available for less expensive systems due to the efforts of the likes of memjet and HP with their new print head.

This development will likely usher in future developments that will spill over to wide format printing beyond this technology announcement and redraw the boundaries of what is possible to achieve with inkjet technology.

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