by Amy Weiss
Epson celebrated the first day of spring with another big move in the office inkjet space: the release of two new devices, the WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 A3 multifunction printer and the WorkForce Pro WF-C869R A3 multifunction printer.
The WF Pro WF-C869R is a 24-ppm color device notable for its use of Epson’s Replaceable Ink Pack System (RIPS). The RIPS system gives Epson’s office inkjet machines a dramatically extended supplies life by utilizing external ink supplies in the form of high-capacity bags, which feed ink directly to the print heads through an integrated tubing system. Stated yield for the WF-C869R is 84,000 pages, allowing it to offer what Epson says are the lowest color printing costs in its class. Replacing the WF-R8590, which maxed out at 75,000 pages, the WF-C869R one-ups its predecessor, which had already created a new benchmark for its class. It will be available through the BTA channel in spring 2017.
The real star of the announcement is the WF-C20590. Designed for SMB and corporate workgroups, it prints at speeds up to 100 ppm, which Epson says makes it the fastest device in its class. It uses Epson’s PrecisionCore line head technology — PrecisionCore is a refined, MEMS-based manufacturing process that permits the production of piezo print chips featuring higher nozzle density, smaller drop volumes, and improved reliability. It allows the production of print head assemblies using modular print chips that can be combined in various ways, both in serial print heads or line-head (page-wide array) configurations; the WF-C20590 marks the first PrecisionCore line-head color MFP.
The WF-C20590 utilizes high-capacity ink cartridges that yield up to 50,000 pages, includes a dual-head, single pass scanner, optional finisher and, according to Epson, uses up to 50 percent less power than color lasers. It will be available through the BTA channel in summer 2017.
Like many of its competitors, Epson views its inkjet technology as a disruptive force in the industry. PrecisionCore was a massive investment for the firm; Epson has stated it is the product of one of the largest research and development investments in the company’s history. Since its initial launch with the A4 WorkForce Pro office machines in 2011, we have been expecting to see more moves in the space, and the deployment of line-head technology into these office-class products could be a game changer. The obvious comparison will be with HP’s A3 PageWide Pro and Enterprise devices, which have reported speeds of up to 80 ppm and are expected to be available this year. We’ve had a chance to get a look at both devices in action and can say for sure that there will be an interesting playing field when the two go head to head in the wild.
For the last decade or so (and in some cases much longer), vendors have been attempting major disruptions in the office printing landscape with inkjet, and the benefits that inkjet technology can bring to the office are well documented. Meanwhile, as businesses embrace mobile, cloud and digital workflow, we have seen massive changes in the way information is consumed. The dreaded (but yet-to-appear) paperless office is a constant topic of discussion, as is the more realistic less-paper office, leading to a landscape in which lower-cost, money-saving options have an even greater appeal.
Enter into this landscape a breakthrough technology that creates an ink-based device that sells for less than a laser-based machine with comparable or faster print speeds, offers lower operating costs, fewer service requirements, lower energy consumption, and less waste. Have we finally arrived at a time when ink changes the game in the office printing market? Epson’s answer is clearly, “yes.”