SAN DIEGO, CA - HP's large format printer division is based in Barcelona, but their print heads are made in San Diego, the software may be written in Oregon and their PR firm is in Atlanta -- an arrangement that favors frequent flyer miles for most involved -- and jet lag.
A large contingent was on hand in San Diego, actually looking none too worse for the wear, to introduce a couple of new large format printers. See HP Introduces PageWide Technology for Large-Format Printing.
The HP PageWide large format printer (on right) promise higher speed and color than LED printer currently in use at repro shops. It's due to hit the streets towards end of 2015. Price has not been announced.
A couple of large format printers hulked on the sides of the stage as the western hemisphere press filed into the ballroom of the Sheraton Marina Hotel. But as the music bulit up, the curtains parted and a spotlight tracked the star of the show as it came forward by itself to center stage. Enter the page wide large format printer!
May be not as dramatic an entrance as Gene Simmons at a Kiss concert, but in our world, that's as good as it gets. We applauded.
Plans for Invasion
It was the first large format (40") printer with PageWide print head. Whereas a normal print head goes back and forth across the page, a PageWide printhead is actually a collection of stackable printheads tha covers the whole width of the sheet. All colors are dispensed at once. It's way faster than back and forth, multiple pass method and also. Print registration should be spot-on (pun intended) since the paper doesn't have much chance to slip on the rollers.
While the other printers have notable improvements (the T3500, which is not even based on PageWide technology, can output a D-size print in 21 seconds!), HP has big plans for this battleship-class printer. It intends to displace the current (electrostatic) technologies in repro houses. HP sees this as a $1.3B market. Same speed or faster ...plus color! How could they not love it, HP asks rhetorically.
Perhaps because they'll be bound to HP for expensive ink?
Users in Ink Prison?
HP insists that their total cost of ownership is still low, even with their proprietary inks. It's a widely held belief that printer companies lose money on their hardware but profit immensely from ink cartridges. It's certainly true for consumer printers. I have been shocked at paying $40 for probably an ounce of ink. I can see the cartridges of the large format printers from the second row. Each looks like it holds half a gallon.
The page wide printer will not be avaialble until late 2015, more that a year away. HP says the technology is all there, but they want to do enough testing to ensure that it meets their reliability standards.They are announcing their plans early to send a message to the repro shops, that something better will be coming down down the road eventually, so don't enter into any long term relationships.
While engineering and AEC prints are E-size maximum, HP is counting on the creation of signs and banners, which is getting increasing popular.
Sumary Notes from HP's Large-Format Printer Launch, Ralph Grabowski, World CAD Access, June 11, 2013