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September 20, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG has officially launched its PageStream high-end printers, first seen at OpenHouse ’95 in Poing, Germany in May (CI No 2,663). The company believes the machines, which come in three types, will double the high-speed printer division’s revenues over the next three years, reflecting the growth of mailing centres and the company’s further push into open systems environments. There is a 350 page-per-minute version and a 440ppm one, both of which are capable of simplex printing. The 570ppm PageStream has duplex and spot colour capabilities. All are based on the company’s light-emitting diode technology and the 570 is capable of printing at resolutions of up to 600 dots per inch. The company said it has made the machines easy to use with things like an 10.5 touch-screen operating panel that pops up instruction and diagnostic programs when needed. All the printers have an advanced Scalable Raster Architecture controller that enables them to print two A4 pages side by side, and ensures they can be integrated into a variety of systems via SNA connections, Small Computer Systems Interface and IEEE-compliant Unix connections. The printers are also said to be pretty robust, needing no special environmental conditions. The printers are described as scalable, because since they are built using 80486 processors – four chips on a motherboard – the individual printer’s capabilities can be extended by adding more processors. Twelve are needed for 600dpi. Also the memory is scalable, to as much as 600Mb on line, an important factor in enabling the printers to print at 600dpi. But the key to the printers’ speed isn’t just in the mechanics or the number of processors but in the high efficiency toner, bought in from another company but which one, Siemens Nixdorf has not said. Because of the fine nature of the toner’s particles, it bonds to the paper far better, and without the risk of smudging associated with other toners. At speeds of up to 600dpi, the ease with which toner bonds to paper is crucial to the quality of the final image. Now that the quality of the finished product has improved Siemens Nixdorf and the other manufacturers of high-speed printers, are pushing them as an alternative to traditional printing methods, especially to direct mail outfits or companies doing specialised print runs. Of course, none of this is cheap: at the lowest level, a customised installation will cost ú250,000. But Siemens Nixdorf has already sold PageStreams to British Gas Plc in a ú11m contract that it won last December: the company worked with Pitney Bowes Inc to integrate its mail handler with the PageStream printers to provide British Gas with bill-printing and mailing capability. Siemens Nixdorf said it is close to announcing an even bigger contract for the PageStreams with a UK government body.

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