By: M. David Stone
If you know what Memjet technology is, the headline tells you most of what you need to know: Memjet printers are finally here (and I'll get to the sort of part shortly). But let me start with a quick explanation for those who have forgotten about Memjet. Or never heard of it.
Memjet printing technology, a distinctly new variation on inkjets, was first unveiled in early 2007 along with some demo videos of spectacularly fast prototype printers. The promise was that Memjet printers could print letter-size output at 60 pages per minute, or one page per second, and 1,600-by-1,600 dots per inch, with printers that were supposed to be available in 2008 for $200 to $300. Really.
After 2008 came and went without a Memjet printer, and then 2009 did the same, you might have been forgiven for deciding that Memjet printers were just vaporware that you'd never see in real life. So for all the skeptics out there, this announcement's for you: In the last month, we've seen four Memjet printers announced in rapid succession.
That's the good news. The bad news - the "sort of" part - is that all four are special-purpose label printers from RENA Systems, Addressing and Mailing Solutions, Impression Technology Europe, and OWN-X Industrial.
So where are the home and office printers we were promised?
Well, that's a good question. According to my contact at Memjet, label printers happened to be the first category of printers ready for production. That dovetailed nicely with the idea of starting with printers aimed at the sort of customer who buys through value-added resellers and consultants - as with label printers - with the goal of maximizing feedback on how the printers work in the real world. And that's what Memjet decided to do.
The real-world feedback from the label printers will effectively translate into a kind of closely monitored shakedown cruise for the technology. Once it has that feedback in hand, Memjet plans to expand into the wild - namely, general purpose home and office printing, where contact with the customer is a little looser. With the shakedown cruise just starting, however, Memjet's not yet ready to predict dates for other categories of printers.
While we're waiting, you can see the latest videos of fast Memjet printing on the Memjet Web site. Be sure to take a look at the one labeled Memjet A4/Letter Prototype, and don't miss the wide format printer demo.
And, finally, stay tuned for more. Memjet may not be ready to give out launch dates, but my contact says that home and office printers and wide format printers aren't all that far behind.