A History of Printing Innovation

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Epson developed the world's first digital printer, in 1968.The small, lightweight EP-101 put Epson at the forefront of printing innovation. Epson has stayed there thanks to engineers who have sought to produce a continuous line of "sons" of this hugely popular electronic printer (EP + son = Epson) that offer high added value to customers and exceed their expectations. These relentless efforts have resulted in Epson products being used in a diverse range of applications worldwide.

Over the years, from the time it developed its first inkjet product, the SQ-2000, Epson has launched a number of world-firsts that have revolutionized the industry. Among these are the Epson Stylus Color, which was the world's first high-resolution 720-dpi color inkjet printer, and the Epson Stylus Photo, which was the world's first inkjet photo printer.

But the road to these ground-breaking developments was not smooth. Despite dominating in serial impact dot matrix (SIDM) printers in the 1980s, it was by no means assured that Epson would become a leader in inkjets.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Epson realized that the market for SIDM printers was being threatened by high-speed laser printers on the high end and by inkjet printers in the mid-range and low end. The company, predicting that inkjet printers would eventually come to dominate the market, began investigating the potential of thermal, piezoelectric, and other inkjet systems. While other companies launched thermal inkjets onto the market, Epson focused on commercializing a piezo-based product, convinced that a piezoelectric system would offer advantages in terms of output quality, printhead durability, and the ability to print using a wide variety of inks. The technical difficulties, however, seemed almost insurmountable as the materials and technologies required for sufficient miniaturization simply did not exist. To use piezo technology in a printer, Epson had to pioneer new advances.

To solve these issues, management assigned a group of watch engineers to the printer division. By combining watch manufacturing expertise with the expertise of its printer engineers, Epson believed that it could come up with completely new technology. The challenge paid off, as the combined experience and efforts of the engineering team culminated in the creation of Micro Piezo technology , Epson's groundbreaking inkjet printheads. The first inkjet printer based on this technology was the monochrome Epson Stylus 800, launched in 1993. The following year the Epson Stylus Color became the company's first color inkjet printer to produce photo-quality output. This Epson Stylus Color was a smash hit and catapulted Epson into the position of one of the world's leading inkjet printer manufacturers. It's no exaggeration to say that this printer and the top-selling Epson Stylus Photo, launched in 1996, helped create a culture of home photo printing.

In 1998, Epson introduced variable-sized droplet technology (VSDT). Applied first in the Epson Stylus Photo 750 and Epson Stylus Photo 1200, this revolutionary technology enabled printers to fire ink droplets precisely sized to suit the required gradation. Invisible to the human eye, accumulations of these microscopic ink drops made it possible to create photo images that were superior to traditional photo prints.

While building a firm base in home printing, Epson realized that Micro Piezo technology also had considerable potential outside the consumer market. The Epson Stylus Pro 9500 marked Epson's first foray into the professional market. Introduced in 2000, this large- format printer combined light fastness with superb print quality at an affordable price.

Seven years later, in 2007, Epson developed thin-film piezo technology, a technology that dramatically improved the performance of Micro Piezo printheads used in commercial large-format printers.
Then, in 2013, came the latest evolutionary stage of this thin-film piezo technology: PrecisionCore. Whereas the application of earlier thin-film piezo technology was limited to commercial printers, PrecisionCore technology can be deployed in printheads for industrial printing systems as well as in office inkjet printers. Epson intends to further develop PrecisionCore and continue to drive technological innovation in printing.

Please click on the following link for details about PrecisionCore:
http://global.epson.com/innovation/printing_technology/precisioncore/ New window