The latest inkjet models from Epson and Canon are encroaching on applications once reserved for laser printers.
When we talk about desktop inkjet printers, we used to view them as home printers, but in recent years, their durability has improved. They now use pigment ink which does not blur when wet. Print speeds have also increased as has print quality when printing on plain paper. Consequently, the use of inkjet printers has spread to offices and expanded into vertical markets that have been traditionally dominated by laser printers, such as front-desk operations.
In Japan, inkjet printer manufacturers launch new products every autumn, and this year, there was a noticeable trend toward releasing products suitable for specific industries. Printers in these sectors must have high durability, high speed, short warm-up times, and high print quality, which have historically been strong selling points of laser printers. However, if inkjet printers targeting this market are released and become widespread, they may pose a significant threat to laser printers.
Epson Inkjet Printers
Let’s take a look at the vertical market-oriented inkjet printers released in Japan in the fall of 2023. In September, Epson released three models: the A4 monochrome inkjet multifunction printer PX‐M382F and the standalone printers PX‐S382/S383L, which are ideal for medical, retail, and food service settings. These models meet the demands often requested in various industries, such as durability that does not stop operations, high-speed printing that does not keep customers waiting in face-to-face services, and reduced frequency of consumable management and replacement that leads to improved operational efficiency.
Durability has significantly improved to twice that of previous models—up to 300,000 pages. The high-speed printing capability is achieved with the PrecisionCore printhead, realizing approximately 25 images per minute (ipm) for monochrome printing. Moreover, the warm-up time is short, with the first page printed in about 4.8 seconds, enabling quick service without keeping customers waiting. The multifunction model, the PX‐M382F, also features a one-pass duplex automatic document feeder (ADF), which achieves high-speed scanning of 30 ipm for single-sided and 60 ipm for double-sided, thereby increasing productivity. Additionally, the PX-S383L standalone printer has a large-capacity black ink tank that can print approximately 35,000 pages, significantly reducing the hassle of ink replacement and achieving a low running cost of approximately 0.7 yen (including tax) per A4 monochrome document.
Canon Inkjet Printers
Canon also released a compact color inkjet multifunction printer, the GX6530, in September in Japan. This device is suitable for customer-facing reception and counter services in hotels and financial institutions. In such settings, it is necessary to handle various paper documents such as identity documents and contracts. The GX6530 supports smooth customer service in face-to-face operations as it can be easily installed on shelves without space on either side or under counters with height restrictions, thanks to its front-loading ADF. The ADF can scan both sides of a document simultaneously, reducing scanning time. Additionally, ID cards can still be copied when the ADF cannot be used. The unit’s design allows for easy removal of scanned ID cards by sliding them forward without any ledge from the platen. Print speed is approximately 24 ipm for A4 monochrome documents and 15.5 ipm for A4 color documents. The first print time is about seven seconds for A4 monochrome and about eight seconds for A4 color.
The GX6530 also features the GIGA TANK, a large-capacity tank offering low running costs of about 0.8 yen (tax included) (roughly less than $0.01 USD) per A4 monochrome page and about 2.2 yen (tax included) (roughly $0.02 USD) per A4 color page. A single bottle of black ink sold separately can print about 6,000 A4 pages, and the color ink bottles (cyan/magenta/yellow), also sold separately, can print about 14,000 A4 pages.
The Canon GX5530 in a pharmacy setting where they are used to print on medicine bags.
The GX5530, another color inkjet printer with GIGA TANK released by Canon simultaneously in Japan, is a product for logistics, pharmacies, and retail. It supports a wide range of media specific to these industries, such as delivery labels, medication bags, price cards, POPs, and 16 types of envelope sizes. The ink cost is the same low price as the GX6530.
Inkjet printers have always had the advantages of being compact, low power consumption, and low cost. Although inkjet printers still do not match laser printers in terms of durability and print speed, they now sufficiently meet a wider variety of needs in vertical markets. With further improvements in functionality and performance, inkjet printers are expected to significantly enhance their presence in businesses of all types.