Inkjet Benefits for Light Production Applications

Inkjet printing technology first emerged in the 20th century and has evolved significantly since its origin. In the office space, inkjet printers can be found in various environments from SOHO to enterprise and light production with features and capabilities tailored to each market’s needs. 

In recent years, high-speed color inkjet printers have been gaining traction in light production environments – mainly due to the simplicity, reliability, productivity, and sustainability benefits of inkjet technology. 

Simple foundation and function

When comparing inkjet and laser technology, in terms of design, components and operation, inkjet is a simple technology. The laser printing process is typically more complex, involving separate stages and requiring heat to preheat the fuser and again to fuse the toner to the paper. Thermal inkjet technology also requires heat to apply an electrical current to warm the ink to fire it through the printhead. Heat-free inkjet technology, as the name suggests, doesn’t use heat and only involves three steps – receiving the print job, ink ejection and printout. 

Reliability is paramount

Most importantly, dealers need the print solutions they sell and place in the field to be dependable for customers without unexpected or extensive downtime. Volume, image and print quality, and features, while important, are second to reliability. 

In terms of components, laser printers typically have more consumables and service parts that require periodic replacement, namely the drum, transfer belt and fuse, while inkjet printers use fewer maintenance parts that require replacing. With inkjet printers, there are fewer parts that can fail, which can reduce the amount of intervention required. Less intervention can result in increased productivity, which is critical for any business running light production applications where any slight disruption can result in major setbacks. 

Aiding print shop productivity

Light production environments demand print solutions that can keep up. There’s simply no room for printer hassles, breakdowns or constant consumable replacement given the high-volume nature of jobs and quick turnaround requirements. 

Office equipment dealers have found opportunity and success with placing high-speed, inkjet office MFPs as supplemental light production devices to support or offload a business’ production devices, helping to aid overall productivity. 

In an enterprise environment, high-speed inkjet MFPs can be used for light production print jobs in-house. In a production environment, they can be used to offload industrial production devices, which is especially useful with print jobs of various run sizes or volumes. To avoid interrupting the large batch jobs that are typically run on industrial production printers, light production printers can be used to handle the smaller batch jobs, helping to keep jobs running, operations efficient and downtime at a minimum. 

Print operators are experts when it comes to the operation, diagnostics and troubleshooting, and maintenance of production printers. They are skilled at running multiple devices and jobs at once and therefore benefit, from a workflow perspective, from using reliable solutions that are simple to onboard, operate and maintain. Because of the simplicity of inkjet technology, most inkjet high-speed office MFPs are not difficult solutions for print operators to onboard or operate as supplemental machines and do not require operator intervention or manual maintenance for every job. They are engineered to be extremely user-friendly and easy to use, without requiring extensive training as most complex machines do. 

Sustainability is a key consideration

According to Keypoint Intelligence, an increasing number of businesses are evaluating a brand’s sustainability initiative — how the brand, its solutions and services impact the planet — as part of their purchasing process. 

In conversations with office equipment dealers, sustainability is a common theme. But because “sustainability” is a very broad term, it can be helpful to zero in on the specific metric a partner or end user is focused on — like saving electricity or reducing waste.  For example, a recent discussion on the topic involved the example of an Illinois college and its search for a print fleet with specific environmental benefits to replace its existing fleet of laser printers deployed across campus. The institution involved the students in its Environmental Science and Business programs to evaluate the environmental benefits and claims of the prospective brand to determine whether its solutions could truly make a positive environmental impact at the school or whether the claims were just marketing promises. The students’ reports included an analysis of the brand and its product messaging, qualification of environmental claims — including electricity savings estimates — and an accounting projection based on potential environmental impacts and savings considering the school’s printing habits and requirements. 

While businesses today are starting to prioritize sustainability, we can be certain that the next generation of business owners will have sustainability considerations engrained into their everyday lives. 

The office equipment industry has experienced the role sustainability plays in different segments of office print and can expect similar effects in the light production and production segments. Ultimately, “less is more” is a common theme across all segments. Regardless of the application, businesses are searching for solutions that deliver when it comes to “less is more” — less time and maintenance parts to manage, reduced machine downtime meaning more employee productivity, and less waste to potentially end up in landfills and low energy consumption for savings on energy bills. 

Energy consumption and waste are among the top sustainability concerns for businesses running light production and production jobs because of their financial impact. Electricity costs are top of mind since their printers are almost constantly in use and therefore can consume a great deal of electricity. In fact, between 1980 and 2020 global electricity consumption more than tripled and it’s estimated that electricity consumption is set to double by 2050. When it comes to energy consumption and waste, inkjet solutions can have significant benefits. First, they don’t require heat to melt plastic toner to paper which results in low energy consumption, helping to reduce energy bills. Second, because they use fewer maintenance parts than laser printers, they can help to reduce plastic waste output. 

As more businesses are looking to invest in solutions that fit into their sustainability policies, it’s important for dealers not only to provide solutions that have environmental benefits but also to be knowledgeable of the specific solutions that align with sustainability targets of the users. This, of course, is easier for dealers to do when partnered with OEMs that engineer solutions with environmental benefits and provide extensive training, marketing and sales resources, and support. 

High-speed office MFPs open supplemental revenue opportunities

The office equipment industry is ripe with opportunities for dealers that carry a breadth of solutions. The same high-speed color MFPs being placed in high-volume enterprise environments can also be ideal for light production applications. With a portfolio of reliable and versatile solutions, dealers can leverage the equipment they already have to attract a new customer base, meaning there’s a relatively low barrier to entry and an opportunity for additional revenue. 

The vertical markets that are prime for onboarding light production printers due to the high volumes of printing include education, government, finance, and healthcare — the businesses that are doing short-run jobs in-house. 

High-speed office inkjet MFPs not only suit enterprise environments but also light production projects with high-volume requirements and high-quality color needs. Like enterprise customers, light production customers need sustainable print solutions that can handle short-run production jobs and produce high-quality prints, are simple to onboard and operate, reliable, and help to enhance productivity — and inkjet is engineered to fit the bill. 

Dennis Fan
Dennis Fan

Dennis Fan is Product Manager, Business Imaging, Epson America, Inc.