New Epson Small-in-One 39% Smaller than Predecessor

The most striking concept of the new Epson NX430 inkjet printer is how small it is. In this article, we take a look at how Epson engineers managed to make this consumer printer 39% smaller than its predecessor, the NX420.

Engineered smaller, for bigger value

Smaller printers with more modest space requirements provide greater value by giving customers more installation options and more space to work in. Smaller printers benefit Epson by being lighter in weight and increasing shipping container efficiency (you can squeeze more printers into each container), thus reducing transportation costs and environmental impacts.

The compactness of the NX430 delivers these benefits, and much more. A four-color printer using pigment ink, the NX430 is a product based on efficient product design and development.

Shrinking the main board

The first design feature of the NX430 that catches the eye is its size: the body is only 390 mm wide.

Its predecessor, the NX420, was 450 mm wide. The main board in the NX420 was installed vertically on the printer's left side so that the card slots, which were built into the board, would be on the front-left face of the printer. Since the control panel was also on the front left side of the printer, getting the width below 400 mm would have required moving the main board to a different location.

Location of main board
The main board in the NX420 was on the left
front face. On the NX430, the main board was
made smaller and moved to the back of the unit,
while the control panel was placed in front.

To reduce the width of the NX430, therefore,
the size of the main board had to be reduced. However, main boards tend to get bigger as more functions are added, and if it were to be designed so that functions could be added later so that the product lineup could be expanded, there was a limit to how small it could be made.

Therefore, engineers adopted a strategy of providing only the basic functions on the main board. Card slots, wire LAN, wireless LAN, and other features would be placed on separate
add-on boards. Card slots and the control
panel could thus be placed on the front face
of the printer while the main board could be installed in the back of the unit. Installing the control panel in the dead space beneath the scanner unit enabled designers to dramatically reduce the width of the printer body. Add-on boards installed in the spaces between mechanisms allow design engineers to create new products with extra features, without increasing the product footprint.

A smaller power supply

Power supply units with more capacity than is normally needed are ordinarily used to ensure that sufficient power is always available. For this reason, the power supply units used in Epson printers have been on the large side, and, since they are installed in tight spaces in the back of a printer, the hard rubber piece on the machine end of power cables projected out from the printer body, preventing the back of the printer from being installed flush with a wall.

Smaller power supply unit (marked in blue)
The smaller power supply unit can be installed
farther toward the center of the printer instead
of up against the back of the housing so that
the back of the printer can be installed flush
against a wall.

In order to shrink the size of the NX430, the design team decided the size of the power supply unit in advance and optimized power use in accordance with the capacity of the power supply. A number of design changes were implemented so that there would also be enough power available even with the smaller power supply unit. For example, the solid-metal spindle of the paper feeding mechanism was replaced with a lighter, press-worked, hollow spindle that reduces the load on the printer's drive system, and the timing with which driving occurs was altered.

Combined, these and other changes made the NX430 as compact as it is.

Ease of use another high priority

Compactness is part of the ease-of-use equation because it gives users more options when it comes to deciding where to put their printer, but the NX430 also has other features that improve ease of use.

Card slots
Card slots can be arranged horizontally
by providing them on a separate board
from the main board.

Scanner unit worm gear (marked in blue)
Noise was muted by switching from a
flat gear to a worm gear.

One of them is the orientation of the memory card slot. On the NX420 the slots stood vertically. On the NX430, however, the slot is horizontal, making it easier to insert cards in the proper slot. This is one of the benefits of providing the memory card slot on its own board.

Scanner unit noise reduction was another priority. Scanner noise is produced by gear vibration when the unit quickly retracts after scanning a document and by the meshing of gear teeth. So, to mute the noise, design engineers replaced a noisy flat gear with a quieter worm gear, mounted the scanner motor on the carriage, and suppressed housing sympathetic resonance. The result is a scanner unit that produces nothing more than an almost inaudible whisper.

Going forward, Epson engineers will continue their efforts to create printers that are ever more compact and easy to use.

Please refer to your local Epson site for details of these and other Epson products. New window
(Note that product names and availability vary by region.)