Epson Printer Easy to Use and Environmentally Conscious

The EC-01 represents a new concept in printing that is easy to use and environmentally conscious. Aimed mainly at education and business users in certain markets, it employs large capacity ink packs that allow heavy volume customers to print without having to frequently change ink cartridges.

Do you see anything familiar?

Two printers... on the left, an Epson Stylus CX4600 (US market all-in-one model), and on the right, an EC-01. Do they seem similar? Well, they should because the EC-01 is built with many parts borrowed from the CX4600.

CX4600 EC-01

We envisioned the EC-01 as a business user-oriented model and chose to utilize molded parts from existing models with an emphasis more on the printing usability than design. Developing new molds for the manufacture of printer casing components and other molded parts is a resource- and energy-intensive process. Hence, minimizing the number of new molds for the EC-01 was one of our design goals. During the product development stage, we produced various prototypes utilizing parts from existing printer models and ultimately selected the CX4600 as the optimal base platform. Of its 115 molded parts, the EC-01 incorporates 97 molded parts originally designed for the CX4600 and only 18 additional parts that required new molds.

Two different casing parts are produced with this massive mold. Despite their size, molds are elaborate pieces of equipment that demand extensive inputs of materials and energy for their development and manufacture, and adapting molds from existing product lines saves considerably on resources and energy.

A mold used for manufacturing printers

Eco-friendly ink cartridge-less design

Arguably the most unusual aspect of the EC-01 is its cartridge-less design. Instead of cartridges, high-capacity ink packs efficiently utilize space for the scanner machinery on the upper part of this all-in-one printer model. This approach eliminates the need to change ink cartridges as well as any worries about running out of ink in the middle of a print job. The EC-01 assures high-volume, long-range use with peace of mind. What is more, this design significantly saves on the resources and energy otherwise used to produce, dispose of, and recycle ink cartridges. A set of four-color high-capacity ink packs is capable of printing about 8,000 pages*, eliminating the need for around 80 conventional ink cartridges.

*Average output for continuous one-sided printing on A4 paper (ISO/IEC 24711 standard)

Extended product life cycle provides long- term use with less e-waste

Another unique feature of the EC-01 is that the main unit is designed to be refurbished and re-used rather than being disposed of or recycled after its ink supply has run dry. Refurbishing involves replacing the ink pack and selected wear-prone components in the printer, thus preparing it for a fresh new cycle of service. Consider what this would mean if we refurbished a conventional inkjet printer three times. In effect, it significantly reduces the resources and energy involved in the manufacture of the equivalent of three printers, and the amount of e-waste generated by their disposal.


Refurbishing...the 4th 'R'

In Europe and North America, this concept has gained status as the 4th 'R' after the three 'Rs' of reduction, re-use, and recycling, giving shape to an entirely new market for refurbished merchandise. Take personal computers, for example. Whereas many consumers may want the most advanced, feature-rich models with the latest bells and whistles, there are still quite a few that do not need the latest features and prefer to buy a less-expensive, previous-generation model that meets their expectations. This consumer segment is reportedly behind a thriving new service industry dedicated to the recycling and resale of refurbished PCs.

Life cycle analysis?

Now you should have some idea just how eco-friendly the EC-01 is. So let's take a look at life cycle analysis (LCA*) that tells us how effective it is in reducing its environmental impact. We've compared two scenarios: one for an EC-01 that had been refurbished and re-used over three service cycles, and the other for a color page printer. Measured in terms of raw material inputs, product manufacturing stages, disposal, and recycling, the environmental impact from an EC-01 unit is extremely small; further, with three cycles of re-use, it is possible to achieve significant reductions in related emissions of CO2.

* LCA is a method of quantifying the environmental impact of a product over its entire life cycle, from initial component manufacture and assembly to product shipment, use, disposal, and recycling.

* Note that product names and availability vary by region. Please refer to your local Epson site for details of Epson products.

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