A Brief History of Inkjet Printer Technology

A Brief History of Inkjet Printer Technology

For over 20 years, inkjet printers have helped businesses lower their costs, broaden their options and streamline their workflows. Despite the relatively short time it's been available, inkjet technology has quickly become one of the most popular printing methods for enterprise environments. According to figures cited by Epson from the International Data Corporation (IDC), inkjet already accounts for 48 percent of office printer shipments, which is expected to grow to over 60% by 2020. In part, this expansion has been fueled by SMB and small workgroups that are increasingly interested in low-cost color printing solutions. But to understand how inkjet printers have become such a prominent force, it's useful to look back on their history within the hardware market.

A computer mouse connected to a stack of papers.Inkjet printing has evolved from a simple method of print publishing to a full-spectrum enterprise solution.

Inkjet Technology Timeline

While the concept of inkjet printing has been around since the 1950s, it took a few decades to develop the technology to suit commercial applications. Originally, inkjets were created for the publishing industry to replace the slow and noisy dot-matrix printers that dominated the market. At the time, several tech companies were trying to work out new methods of printing at higher speeds, with Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Canon among the biggest contributors. The journey from concept to modern inkjets produced several iterations and advancements along the way, which can help paint a picture of how the technology has evolved since its inception.

  • 1998: The first Hewlett-Packard business inkjet (the HP 2000C) is introduced, causing significant disruption within the hardware market. This event demonstrated the viability of inkjet printing within office environments and led to a surge of interest in the technology.
  • 2000 – 2003: This period saw an increased focus on the improvement of inkjet color printing capabilities, culminating in the release of HP's Business Inkjet 3000 and Canon's line of N1000 and N2000 office-class printers.
  • 2004 – 2007: By this point, inkjets had already secured a foothold in the market, allowing manufacturers to experiment with new features. This era saw the rise of multi-functional prints (MFPs) and advances in line head and imaging technologies.
  • 2008 – 2016: Within this eight-year span, inkjet technology went from convenient alternative to industry standard. The introduction of PWA-based printing (like the HP Officejet Pro X and the Epson WorkForce series) brought the technology into the digital age and cemented it as the low-cost option we know today.
  • 2017 – Present: In less than two decades, inkjet printers became the market standard for consumer and wide-format shipments, while also capturing a major portion of the enterprise market. This trend is likely to continue as manufacturers work out how to significantly increase the technology's only remaining limitation: print volume.

The growth of inkjet printing has largely been sustained through fast innovation and the reduction of maintenance costs and production waste. If you're looking for reliable color printing solutions, check out the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C869R or Epson WF-C20590 High Speed Color Printer & Copier.

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