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Epson taking a page out of Intel’s book


TORONTO – Epson is predominantly a printing and imaging vendor, but with its latest technology, the PrecisionCore, you can now call it a microprocessor manufacturer too.

PrecisionCore is not a printer nor is it a projector, but a chip specifically designed for printing. The PrecisionCore chip is commercial grade silicon wafer produced at the company’s MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) fab in Japan. Epson made a $300 million investment in this new chip, said Steve Semos, product manager at Epson.

“There was nothing out there in the market so we decided to invent it. Print heads in the past were always assembled. PrecisionCore is built as a silicon wafer with perfect chambers for ink delivery,” Semos said.

The chip fits in the palm of your hand and can deliver 600 dots per inch with 1.5 to 24 picolitres of ink. Epson plans to use the PrecisionCore chip in its lineup of serial moving printers and fixed single-pass machines.

Semos told CDN that the company will deploy two to four PrecisionCore chips per printer depended on the printer model. There will be about nine printers that will carry the PrecisionCore chip. Of those, two will be commercial models starting at $399.

Entry level pricing for a Workforce printer with PrecisionCore is $169.

“The PrecisionCore is one grand design that goes across all print forms for business, photos, SMB  and up to a $500,000 label printer,” he added

Another difference with PrecisionCore is that it can enable the Piezo chamber to mechanically pump out ink drops. This is a much different process compared to current technology where the print head heats up to a reach a boiling point before it can release a drop of ink.

PrecisionCore also enables Epson to use several kinds of inks for its printer portfolio such as solvent ink, dye-based inks, and pigments for one print head. Epson was also able to construct a longer, narrower chamber for ink, which leads to better image accuracy, Semos said.

“It’s the same as rifle and a rifle is more accurate than a pistol,” he added.

Epson is also banking that the PrecisionCore technology is a big enough leap forward in innovation that it will spark people to print more in colour.

According to research from Infotrends, approximately 90 per cent of the pages printed in business are done in black-and-while. That amounts to more than 550 billion pages printed. However, about 330 billion of those pages could have been printed in colour but the user chose not to.

Semos also said that PrecisionCore led to a 70 per cent reduction in energy consumption.