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  1. Technology
September 22, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

The Epson Corp subsidiary of Seiko Epson Co has launched the second generation of its piezoelectric-based Stylus Color inkjet printers. Looking to build on the success of the original Stylus Color, launched last June (CI No 2,445), the company believes that in the UK alone, it can sell more than a 100,000 of the two new printers by the end of its financial year next March. It claims that the original model has taken 19% of the UK market, at the expense of Hewlett-Packard Co’s desktop printers. In the UK, the company is spending ú1m on marketing: Epson believes the market for inkjet printers is growing at 27% a year and that a major section will be at the lower end, where it plans to take the major share. The Stylus Color II is aimed at the professional desktop publishers. It is compatible with Windows and Macintosh personal computers. The Stylus Color IIs is for the small office-home office user and replaces the Stylus Color. There is a black only version upgradable to colour, but normally it comes equipped for colour printing, and for dedicated black printing, just the cartridge needs to be changed.

Cool crystals

It does not work with Macs as it has only a parallel port connection. This, said the company, has kept the cost down. The other cost-saving factor in both models is the piezeoelectric technology which, because there are no thermal stresses to the print heads, means the print head stays with the printer for life and only the ink cartridges have to be replaced. With piezoelectric technology, crystals – cool crystals as the company calls them – in the print head are compressed during printing to produce an electric charge that drives the ink through jets in the head and onto the paper. The company said that this enables the shape and size of the ink drop to be controlled more finely, giving better resolution. The technology has been further refined in the new m odels and now comes with something called MicroDot, essentially a refined nozzle that reduces the size of the ink droplet by 30% to produce what the company claims is a clearer, sharper image. The only other company so far to use this type of technology in a printer is Citizen Watch Co Ltd (CI No 2,621). Epson’s two new printers both print at 720 dots per inch. Epson has also developed new dye-based ink for which it said the black is blacker and the colours brighter. Both can handle a variety of media at print speeds of four pages per minute monochrome, 2ppm for the II and 2.5ppm for monochrome and 1ppm for colour in the IIs. Both have Auto Colour software, which sounds remarkably like Rank Xerox Ltd’s Intelligent Colour feature on its 4920 and 4925 colour laser printers, in that it is quality control software that improves the final quality of the printed image by considering different elements on a page as different objects. Depending on the object – text, charts, pictures – the driver settings are automatically changed to get the best picture and the dithering is changed as the page is printed. Both are available now. The II costs ú385 and IIs costs ú335, but the company reckons the final street price will be considerably less, and definitely less than the prices of its rival, Hewlett-Packard’s printers.

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