HP prints out high-speed inkjet technology

After five years of development and $US1.4 billion of investment, HP has unveiled scalable inkjet technology it claims will substantially improve the speed and performance of home and small and midsize office printers.

The company also plans to take the technology to the commercial market.

The new technology centers on the assembly of a new inkjet printhead. Instead of the printhead components being welded together in postproduction, the components in the new inkjet were created as a single unit via a photolithographic process resulting in more accurate, faster and cheaper printing, HP said.

"This technology is the next step in our business transformation - the master key that unlocks new market opportunities and further growth in our printer business," executive vice-president for HP's Imaging and Printing Group, Vyomesh Joshi, said in a statement.

HP's imaging and print business built up over 21 years has yielded a $US24 billion business. "Our intention is to double that in the next 10 years," Joshi said.

HP announced a number of printers based on the new technology, including consumer models - the HP Photosmart 8250 Photo Printer and the HP Photosmart 3000 All-In-One series. Both printers could deliver 4x6-inch prints in as little as 14 seconds for a minimum cost of $0.24 a print, HP said.

The printer would also provide a high-quality mode, printing photos as fast as 21 seconds per print, Joshi said.

The Photosmart 8250, priced at $US199, will ship this month, while the Photosmart 3000, costing between $299 and $399, is due to appear later in the year.

For the small and midsize business market, HP plans to release the HP Officejet Pro K550 Colour Printer series later this year, which the company claims will double print speeds of existing sub-$US500 colour laser printers at a 30 per cent lower cost per page.

"It's a significant step in moving inkjet into the colour laser market," Joshi said.

HP planned to use its new inkjet technology in its specialty printing business where the company has original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreements with its partners in markets including the mail and point of sale (POS) printing sectors, he said.

Ultimately, the company intended to deploy the technology across the entire range of its printing operations through to industrial printing.

Joshi said he expected HP to make further announcements about new printers based on the inkjet technology in the next few months.

HP also announced half a dozen new portable photo printers including the HP Photosmart 475 GoGo Photo Printer, costing $US279, with the ability to print 5x7-inch photos and store over 1000 images.

The HP Photosmart 420 series GoGo Photo Studio is a bundled camera, printer and dock, priced from $US299, and can be battery operated. This meant users could use it whenever they liked and didn't need access to a PC, Joshi said.

The company also beefed up its digital camera line, with the HP Photosmart R818, R817 and M517 devices, ranging from $US149 to $US399.

Both the R818 and the R817 allow users to create panoramic images within the device.

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