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Memjet promises lightning-fast, high-quality prints.

In case you haven't heard, Memjet is a new inkjet printing technology that produces "photo-quality" prints at the astonishing speed of one 4-by-6 every 2 seconds.

The main difference between Memjet and typical inkjet printing technology is the printheads for Memjet span the entire width of the page. In a single pass, photo-quality prints are produced," says David Clark, CEO of Memjet Photo Retail San Diego, Calif. "This wide printhead also means there are large numbers of nozzles that lay down very small drops. For example, a 4-inch printhead, which makes 4-by-6 prints, has 32,000 nozzles and produces very tiny, 1.6 pica liter drops." (The "Mem" in Memjet refers to "MEMS" or Microelectromechanical Systems, which is the technology of the very small--ranging in size from a micrometer, which is a millionth of a meter, to a millimeter, which is a thousandth of a meter.)

In addition, the printhead is fixed, so there is no time lost to the printhead moving back and forth or turning around. The printheads are designed to be manufactured inexpensively, so they are comparable in cost to the small printheads typically used in inkjet printing.

"As a result," Clark says, "you get high-speed photo printing, low capital costs, and low operating costs* That's why we claim this is genuinely a breakthrough technology."

Memjet was developed by Silverbrook Research, Sydney, Australia. Kia Silverbrook founded the company in the late 1990s for the purpose of creating an "ideal" printing technology, Clark says. "[Silverbrook] analyzed all the characteristics that would be required for an ideal printing technology, and then figured out how to produce it. He built a team in Australia that has been working in a totally focused way on all the elements needed for that vision. It's taken a massive effort. Silverbrook also engaged some key companies to collaborate on it. After 10 years, they have succeeded in developing that technology, and we are now in the process of taking it to market."

Clark also says Memjet prints are widely considered equal in quality to the print being sold by photo retailers today.

"We believe Memjet prints match both thermal prints from kiosks and silver-halide prints from minilabs," he notes. "That's a result of the very high density and very small size of the drops being placed. The drop placement is also very, very concise; and that contributes to the image quality as well."

Clark says the longevity of Memjet prints matches or exceeds that of traditional silver-halide prints.

Memjet printers use dyes to produce bright colors across a wide color gamut and microporous media, so the prints are produced dry to the touch despite the rapid print speed. The consumables are comparatively low in cost, Clark says.

"Typical inkjet consumables being used for home printing today require anywhere from 20 cents to 40 cents per 4R print. We will be able to sell inkjet consumables to retailers that are significantly less than what they are paying today for thermal consumables. They are somewhat higher than current silver-halide consumables; but we believe, as the volumes increase, they will eventually match silver-halide consumables and have the potential to go even lower."

Memjet Photo Retail is supplying Memjet printheads, inks, media, and electronics to OEM customers, who will develop photo kiosks, minilabs, and other printing systems for photo retailers. Memjet printing technology is also currently being I applied to the home and office printing and commercial printing markets.

"We expect, by 2008, multiple vendors will be using Memjet technology in the photo retail space," Clark predicts.

At PMA 07, KIS/Photo-Me Group announced it is conducting market trials of a Memjet kiosk. It is not an exclusive agreement, but KIS will likely be the first company to market with a Memjet photo kiosk.

"I believe Memjet technology is ideally suited for photo retailers. We expect, within a few years, Memjet inkjet technology will be making a significant share of all photo prints, and multiple retail systems vendors will be using the technology," Clark states. "We think it's going to be a big benefit to retailers, because it provides fast photo printing in a low capital cost and lost consumables cost system. Kiosks that make prints in 1 second to 2 seconds will change the nature of the way customers interact with photo kiosks. I think they are going to use them more and print more, since it's a quick interaction."

Clark acknowledges Memjet technology is likely to bring even more competition to the digital printing arena, but doubts that will hurt photo retailers. "We are looking at some change here, and change has a lot of uncertainty associated with it; but faster and lower cost systems will result in more overall printing than there would be otherwise. I think it will be a net benefit to all players in the industry."

Podcast and video available

Clark shared much more about Memjet and how he predicts it will impact the imaging industry with Digital Imaging Digest Editor Jennifer Kruger. Download DIMAcast 052 of the interview to hear it all and watch a video of a Memjet printer in action. <&ltback to top
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Title Annotation:developed by Silverbrook Research
Publication:Digital Imaging Digest
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Words:854
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