This Week in Imaging: New Disruption with Printing on Objects; Rampage Vs. HP Patent Suit; More


Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

Last week we discussed the evolution of printing and the document, from the Gutenberg press to the cloud and 3D printing, and this week we saw an interesting new take on printing. While printing and copying has traditionally been about printing on a flat, two-dimensional surface (paper), Xerox’s introduction of its Direct to Object Inkjet Printer takes that to a third dimension, making printing on three-dimensional curved and steep surfaces now possible, with the Xerox Direct to Object Inkjet Printer that provides on-demand, personalized printing on three-dimensional objects (up to 1 cubic foot in size) and on a variety of substrates. This is pretty revolutionary when you think about it, and the applications are diverse – including printing text, images, and photos on consumer objects, such as water bottles and football helmets (it can print on plastics, metals, ceramics, and glass). This opens up a huge array of applications, for instance, for personalizing items for everything from weddings to corporate events. On another front, for manufacturers and retailers, there are applications for eliminating the use of paper labels. And on yet other fronts, Xerox’s PARC is also taking printing to other “dimensions” with not only 3D-deposition printing, but with using the principles of inkjet printing to print circuit boards, more recently exploring adopting these printed Xerox circuit boards for use in smart devices. While part of Xerox’s strategy is to go where the document goes – from analog copier to printer to software for managing digital documents and information – the other strategy appears to be adapting printing principles for revolutionary new applications.


Water bottle personalized with Xerox’s Direct to Object Inkjet Printer.

It seems that HP can’t catch a break with its PageWide inkjet-printing technology. First it was Memjet, which persuaded a German court that HP had infringed on its patents and which resulted briefly in the inability of HP to sell PageWide XL printers in the German marketplace. Once that issue was resolved, HP responded with a lawsuit of its own that argued that Memjet was the real patent infringer and that the courts should prevent any Memjet-powered technology from being marketed in the U.S. marketplace.

Subsequently the two of them made up, because presumably there’s plenty of room in the burgeoning inkjet printing industry and there’s little overlap of the two technologies in the marketplace, mostly due to the fact that Memjet still employs water-based dye inks that limit its applications.

Now, Rampage LLC has filed another lawsuit claiming that the RIP employed in an HP PageWide inkjet press infringes on its technology and alleges that HP “has and continues to make, use, test, offer to sell, and/or sell within the United States a digital press under the mark PageWide” and that the press “uses a software raster image processor supplied by Global Graphics SE under the mark Harlequin Host Renderer.”

Based on how relatively easy it was for HP to resolve Memjet’s dispute, the sponsors of this latest lawsuit must have supreme confidence in their allegations. Stay tuned.

Office-Imaging News

Samsung Bringing ‘Dash’ Automatic Printer-Toner Replacement to U.K. and Germany – Read more here.

OKI Data Americas Rolling Out New Solutions for Mobile Printing, Printer, MFP Cost Control, and Scan-and-Capture  – Read more here.

Two New Workgroup Document Scanners from Epson Start at $299.99  – Read more here.

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