This Week in Imaging: Who’s “Still” Printing? Solar-Powered Print and Copy; More

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Camouflage fail; photo credit: Kathy Wirth

This week, Canon U.S.A. introduced the second generation of its MAXIFY business-inkjet family, which consists of four All-in-Ones and one standalone printer.

While we’re used to hearing the statement that “no one’s printing anymore” – and while it’s true that office-print volumes have been gradually declining as more office users use email and digital communications, with this second generation MAXIFY family, we were reminded me of the first generation’s introduction last year, when Canon executives explained that, particularly in the small- and mid-size business segment, printing is still the go-to method of communication for many, especially around the world, and not just in the United States.

The good news is that there are still many “print-heavy” customers in key vertical markets both here and abroad: construction and independent contractors; real-estate; legal services; repair, maintenance, and personal services; retail services; healthcare services; and hotel and food services.

Canon research shows that while office printing is generally gradually declining, these particular vertical segments still have significant print volumes, representing 70 percent of the top print-heavy SOHO market. So, for many who say print is going away, it’s not going away anytime soon in these sectors – and not in many emerging economies such as in India, where printing is still heavily relied on. On the flip side of the coin is that U.S. domestic education and medical services industries will be further disinclined to print due to budget cuts and digital-distribution mandates.

As for this second-generation MAXIFY family, it adds two new business-class features for workgroup management: IP address filtering (IT administrators can specify which PCs can print to the devices) and MIB support (provides printer-status monitoring, automatic installation of device drivers, and more).

Looking at both generations of MAXIFY devices, Canon has sought to distinguish them for competitive business inkjet with several features:

  • Print speed: The MAXIFY lineup features what Canon calls a world’s first: overlapping paper-feed. With this feature, as the first sheet is being printed, the second sheet is already being overlapped, so that print speed is faster. (We verified this in a MAXIFY vs. Officejet comparison test.)
  • Copy image quality: According to Canon, one of customers’ complaints about competitive business-inkjet systems is that copy image quality isn’t good. To solve this, Canon says it borrowed technology from its office imageRUNNER MFP family to improve copy quality.
  • U.S.-based support and service.

Canon appears committed to its MAXIFY business inkjets, with a Canon U.S.A. executive noting last year that Canon will continue to develop new products, including those that can be used with business-application workflows, and those suitable for use with larger workgroups.

While most printer and MFP makers put a commendable amount of effort into making their products more eco-friendly – from using recycled materials in products and packaging, to reducing energy consumption – we have to note that one of the most popular stories on the Wirth Consulting Web site is from 2012. This 2012 story covers the introduction of the solar-powered Risolar copier, which uses solar panels to use solar energy to make copies. The practical problem of course is that, since it’s solar-powered, it requires sunlight – which isn’t always available everywhere (London, for instance, receives an average of only 3.8 hours per day of sunlight). The natural imaging technology for this would be inkjet printing, as inkjet printing requires far less energy than laser printing. For instance, inkjet typically requires about 30 watts of power for printing, compared to from 400 – 500 watts for laser printing, when comparing same-class All-in-Ones. For its part, the Risolar uses 250 watts of power (in contrast, a typical copier/MFP uses about 1,500 watts of energy).

While challenging problems are certainly involved with this, as the eco-friendly movement becomes more popular in the United States and around the world, we wonder why other vendors haven’t explored solar power. At the least, it would appeal to sunny, emerging economies where power is often unreliable and sometimes non-existent. In other places, the marketing and competitive benefits would likely be immense – and don’t worry, that solar-powered inkjet printer will still require ink.

Office-Imaging News

  • Canon Introduces Second-Generation MAXIFY Business-Inkjet Family – Read more here.
  • New Eco-Friendly Kyocera MFPs Feature ‘Locked’ Toner Cartridges, Dual-Purpose Black Toner Cartridge – Read more here.

Acquisitions

  • Xerox Said to Abandon Bid to Acquire R.R. Donnelly & Sons – Read more here.
  • Nuance to Acquire TouchCommerce, Provider of Digital Customer-Service, Such as Online Live Chat – Read more here.

Financial News

  • Ricoh India’s Full-Year Loss Estimated to Be 17.1 Billion Yen in Wake of Accounting Scandal – Read more here.

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July 2016

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