Epson Inkjet Ideal for Emerging Market Office Users

In addition to offices, commerce and industry, Epson has in its mid-range business plan identified emerging economies as key areas for growth. Leveraging core proprietary technologies such as Micro Piezo inkjet technology, the company's aim is to build on the base it has established in photo and other home printing applications to ensure ongoing growth. With products such as the Surepress digital label printerand the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 large format printer for commerce and industry, and the Epson L100 and L200 inkjet printers in emerging markets, the company is now steadily rolling out products to make its vision a reality. One of the latest offerings is the K100 monochrome inkjet printer, which was launched earlier in 2011 for business customers in Latin America, China and other Asian markets.

The K100 Monochrome Inkjet Printer

The K100 monochrome inkjet printer was designed primarily for emerging markets, where monochrome models form the vast bulk of office printers. Combining low running costs with compact design, high printing speeds and usability, the new product is a perfect fit for office users in emerging economies.

Despite its superior cost performance, the K100 was developed economically in a very short period of time by pinpointing customer needs and using existing components. In this article, we examine the approach taken by the Epson development team to optimize this printer for price-sensitive markets.

The printer market in emerging economies

The K100 development project was triggered by market research conducted by Epson (China) Co., Ltd., which found that laser printers comprise more than half the printers in use in China (Figure 1) and that more than 90% of these laser printers are monochrome models (Figure 2).

Figure 1: A4 business printer market trend in China (based on IDC research data)

Figure 2: Breakdown of color and monochrome laser printers in China

The popularity of monochrome laser printers is explained primarily by their speed and low running costs. Epson realized that a monochrome inkjet printer using the company's core Micro Piezo inkjet technology could breach this laser printer stronghold if it could compete in these two areas.

The K100 development team therefore set its sights on creating a monochrome inkjet printer that would print faster than a laser printer and at a lower cost per print. To build the printer to the ideal specifications and yet keep it affordable, the team took up the challenge of commercializing the printer in the shortest time possible, using existing Epson components and technologies.

Development Driven by Emerging Market Needs

Reducing running costs

The development team realized that running costs are a key factor for printer users, especially in emerging economies. To reduce the K100's running costs, the team first analyzed how many prints a laser printer toner cartridge can produce. Since the goal was for the inkjet printer to provide a lower cost per print, the development team equipped the K100 with a pair of ink cartridges with a combined capacity in excess of a single toner cartridge. The cartridges were then priced competitively with the equivalent laser cartridges.

Built-in automatic duplex printing unit

Duplex - or two-sided - printing is an important feature for economy- and ecology-minded office users. Conscious that customers work in limited space, the K100 development team included an ingenious automatic duplex function that minimizes the space needed to operate the printer. Whereas some previous printers have had an optional duplex unit that is attached to the back of the printer, the K100 has a built-in unit that ensures the printer is both compact and convenient to use.

Compact and ergonomic design

It was not only through the built-in duplex unit that Epson's engineers strived to ensure the K100 occupied the smallest possible space. The aim was not simply to make the printer as compact as possible, but to allow users to replace the high-capacity paper trays as easily as possible using the minimum space. Combined with a stylish design, Epson has therefore ensured that the K100 inkjet printer would blend seamlessly into any office environment.

Going forward, Epson will continue to leverage its core technologies as it develops products designed to suit the needs of customers in markets around the world.

* Specifications and product names vary by country and region. Please check with your local Epson company New window for details.