Wide-Format Printers/Plotters

HP Aims to Make Wide-Format Printing Cheaper, More Colorful

16 Jun, 2014 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

The company seeks to overtake LED printers with its inkjet-based PageWide technology, which will be available on a large scale in 2015.

What’s Coming Next

During the Designjet Production Premiere, HP also announced the scaling of its inkjet-based PageWide Technology for large-format printing, with the goal of delivering high-quality prints at faster speeds and lower costs. HP contends that the large-format PageWide printers are needed because monochrome LED technology (which dominates the reprographics market) and traditional inkjet technology are both lacking — in color performance and productivity, respectively. PageWide combines the best of both worlds, producing monochrome and color output “at twice the speed of LED with lower running costs,” said Nigro. “You can change the industry, you can change the landscape … with this disruption,” he said.

HP's forthcoming large-format PageWide printer — visible at left — will be faster than LED or traditional inkjet models, the company says.

Pastor compared the increases in HP inkjet performance to the exponential increases in computer processing power as observed by Moore’s Law: “Every 18 months, we double the performance of our systems,” he said. The technology has its own challenges, however, including scalability. HP addressed that concern with a modular printhead a little more than 5” wide; combining eight of these units side by side into a stationary PageWide print bar delivers about 202,000 nozzles total, and spans the full width of a 40" page, so the printhead does not need to move from side to side, and the entire page is printed in one pass. The modules are user-replaceable.

The PageWide print bar, which spans the width of the page being produced, is created by joining 5" modular printheads (top) side by side — making the technology scalable to various printer sizes. Above, HP's Brian Keefe (left) and Xavier Bruch (right) demonstrate how the modules fit together.

The forthcoming PageWide printers will use water-based pigment inks designed for fast drying, fade and smear resistance, and compatibility with a variety of print materials. They’ll accommodate two sets of the four ink cartridges (CMYK), so users can swap out empties while the machine is running.

Although the technology is being demonstrated now, large-format HP PageWide printers won’t be available till the second half of 2015; HP will use the intervening time to “make sure it is a bulletproof system,” said Pastor. Pricing — for the machines themselves or the exact running costs — is not yet available, but should be announced in the middle of next year. The company expects to produce three or four models, but it’s likely we’ll see more beyond those first releases. “This technology is very scalable,” said Pastor. “This is the first wave of products, there will be more.”

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