Top News for the Week of 6/2/2014 – Epson, Brother Ramp up Business Printers; Inside Pharos Beacon; Konica Minolta to Sell 3D Printers; More

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Photo credit: paul bica / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Lots of interesting news and analysis this week. First, it’s official: Konica Minolta will be the first to sell 3D printers – sourced from partner 3D Systems – through the U.S. office-equipment channel. We actually learned about this last September at Konica Minolta’s annual dealer meeting, and the idea was enthusiastically received by dealers. Konica Minolta anticipates a revenue mix that’ll consist of 35.5 percent of 3D printer units, 39.5 percent for build materials (such as plastic filament to create objects), and 25 percent for maintenance and services.

We go direct to the source with Epson and Pharos Systems, both of whom rolled out some game-changing products. While Epson is typically under the radar when it comes to printers and MFPs for the office, you might be surprised to see how far it’s come with business inkjets (like the one below). We got to see the new lineup a few weeks ago in New York, and were struck by, among other things, the upgraded A3 line that can print and copy on 13″x19″. For instance, the $299.99 WorkForce Pro WF-7610 prints and copies on up to 13″x19″, has a 500-sheet paper capacity, and an automatic document feeder than can duplex scan up to 35 11″x17″ originals. Plus, Epson has upped ink-cartridge capacities – two new units for resellers have individual CYMK ink cartridges that yield up to 4,000 pages each.

In the print-management and MPS side of things, Pharos ups the game with a new cloud-based offering, Beacon, a vendor-neutral solution that enables administrators to gather a vast array of real-time usage statistics. Pharos Systems President Keith Nickloff took us on a tour of the new offering, and there’s lots to see.

While traditional “copier” vendors and dealers have been to trying to get desktop printers and All-in-Ones off the desktop for years, traditional printer manufacturers like Brother International, Epson, and Hewlett-Packard have been trying to get them back on those desktops with much lower-priced A4 units that increasingly feature a more competitive cost per page, more business-class features, and better manageability. A case in point are a new color laser printer and MFP from Brother this week, both of which Brother says are designed to replace those MFPs – which it depicts as “underutilized centralized floor units” (ouch). The two new models feature a business-class feature set that includes Microsoft Active Directory network user authentication, optional card authentication, print from the cloud, scan to the cloud with the MFP, and even integration with PaperCut, a print-management and rules-based printing solution.

People are printing less, but they still wear clothes, and they like logos, artwork, and colorful designs on those clothes: vendors such as Epson and Konica Minolta are taking printing – versatile inkjet printing – to a different substrate, textiles. For its part, Konica Minolta reports this week that it’s setting up an office in China to market its commercial inkjet textile printers.


The especially good news this week is that IDC reports that worldwide shipments of printers and MFPs continued to grow for the third quarter, with the Asia/Pacific and Western Europe regions leading the way this quarter. Guess which “copier” vendor just made it to the list of the top-five worldwide sellers of laser printers?

New Products and Solutions

PrecisionCore Chip in Hand

Epson’s PrecisionCore chip.

  • Epson’s New PrecisionCore: Bringing Industrial-Grade Printing to a New Line of Business Inkjets and More – Read more here.
  •  Pharos Launches ‘Beacon,’ a New Cloud-Based Print-Management System with Real-Time Analytics – Read more here.
  •  Konica Minolta’s Latest Dispatcher Phoenix Adds Scan to Cloud – Read more here.
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