Memjet looks to broaden reach
By David Ward, San Diego Thursday, 15 March 2012
San Diego-based inkjet manufacturer Memjet is targeting Drupa to showcase the versatility of its core waterfall printheads, which can jet more than 700m drops of ink a second, across a broad range of OEM partners and applications.
Memjet has already gained some initial traction in the office printer and label printing space and has some 3,000 units currently installed through various label printing OEMs, according to Robert Doll, VP of Software and Systems for Memjet’s labels division.
"The engine is ours and the UI and integration into the box are done by our OEMS," Doll told PrintWeek during a tour of the company’s San Diego R&D facility. "We have a lot of customers that still haven’t released products yet," he added.
Memjet, which has a global staff of more than 400, is currently building out a host of different engines based on its core technology, including some that use an array of five of its printheads to apply 3.5bn drops of inks per second — allowing it to print five color, CMYK+1 or five different spot colors, in a single pass.
Jeff Bean, Memjet’s director of communications and branding, said Memjet Formula Ink is the only ink that works with the firm's printheads. "The ink is a water-based ink and proprietary to our technology and components," he added. "OEMs with Memjet-powered printers and printing systems - and/or their resellers - sell ink in their respective markets."
Bean added that media/substrate compatibility in general is the same across all out target segments and includes any porous uncoated substrates, including corrugated or bond, coated inkjet media or microporous photo paper and films.
"Lomond, one of our office market OEMs, offers 'Memjet Preferred' media that provides optimal image quality," he said. "We also work closely with OEMs, mills and manufacturers on media and substrate testing and share those results so they can make recommendations to their customers."
Memjet has lined up a host of partners, including Colordyne, Xante, Own-X, Lenovo and LG Electronics, but the company’s goal for the coming year is to showcase to the industry the versatility of printhead, controller chips and software and ink technology, which features more than 70,000 nozzles, each 1/10th the diameter of a human hair.
"We’re pretty selective in terms of the OEMs we partner with so we’re able to diversify the markets they go after," explained Kevin Shimamoto, VP marketing for Memjet Wide Format. "What you’ll see at Drupa is different configurations by OEMs partners that are cut-sheet as well as roll-fed as well as presses in some in the more analog printing spaces like packaging."
Shimamoto said Memjet will not be going after some markets, such as professional photography and fine arts, as they require a bigger color gamut and higher image quality, which the company cannot offer with four-color process and single-pass printing. But when it comes to other markets, he said: "It will be a pretty wide range. Our OEMs are very excited because they can compete with not just offset but also flexo equipment."
The company has already created 42in wide-format engines using five overlapping printheads and Shimamoto said the company has the ability to theoretically go to 56" presses.
One of Memjet’s key OEMs is Minneapolis-based Delphax, which next month will release details of its new elan series of high-speed production inkjet printers. "Delphax is what we consider to be an early adopter - they’re nimble, they’re moving fast and they see the value," said Bean. "But we’re also looking at other deals in the commercial print space."
While many of its OEMs are supplying presses for the commercial print industry, Memjet is also developing what it hopes are devices that will enable companies to bring some printing that traditionally has been outsourced back in-house.
"What we’re providing is the ability to create smaller presses that are very fast and very affordable so that companies can afford to have one and turn it on when they need it and have it off when they don’t - versus needing to have a lot of lead time, and pre-press and print and storage of materials," explained Bean. "Actual end user companies can do this without a lot of waste or pre-print."Tweet
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