This Week in Imaging: Paperless Debate Continues; Inkjet Applications Abound; More

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Tibetan yak; photo credit: Kathy Wirth

This week brings us an interesting mix of news: a seemingly mixed-bag for toner and paper; and good news for ink. On the one hand, Xerox released a study that seems to indicate that the paper-less office is right upon us. But a closer look at the results shows that there’s still a long way to go for most – or, in other words, respondents would like to be less paper-based, but still have a long way to go: “…more than half (55 percent) of the respondents admit their organizations’ processes are still largely or entirely paper-based, and about one-third (29 percent) are still communicating with end customers via paper, rather than via email or Web-based social channels.” What is definitely apparent is that there seems to be a lot of desire to go paperless, and that those vendors like Xerox that can help customers along in the process – and for many going paperless is a daunting process – will be in a good position.

On the other side of the coin in the “paper-based” production-printing space, both Xerox and Kodak introduced new production inkjet digital color presses.

It’s interesting to note that, back in the day, both Xerox and Kodak were the sole manufacturers of “big iron” production printers that were premium-priced high-volume toner-based copiers. Now, both are forging ahead with inkjet digital production presses – taking advantage of inkjet’s inherently simpler design, lower energy consumption, and ability to print at high speeds, making it a natural fit for production and wide-format printing.

While Kodak has seen its share of troubles and is out of office printing, it’s had significant presence in the inkjet production arena with its NEXPRESS models for quite some time. In comparison, Xerox has been rock steady with toner-based WorkCentre models in the office and toner-based iGens for production printing, but has been slower in adopting inkjet technology. Now, here comes the Xerox Brenva HD cut-sheet inkjet press. Moreover, even OKI, arguably the staunchest vendor of toner-based imaging devices in the industry today with its LED toner-based printers/MFPs, has finally taken to inkjet with its ColorPaint wide-format printers that were acquired via Seiko Instruments.

Without a doubt, what’s amazing is the broad range of applications inkjet printing is being to: from not just paper, fine-art photos, and labels, but also to fabrics, vehicle wraps, magnetic materials, cardboard boxes and displays, and much more. (Even deposition 3D printing draws on inkjet-printing technology.) And, if you happen to be visiting the drupa 2016 trade show in May, be sure to check out Kodak’s booth, where you’ll see a prototype apartment – called This is Inkjet! – that’s decorated with inkjet-printed laminate flooring, countertops, furniture, and more.

Last, but not least, be sure to review our other news this week in the production-printing space. You’ll find lots of pre-drupa announcements from the likes of Xerox, HP Inc., and Kodak.

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