Inkjet printers have only been commercially available for just over 20 years, but in that short time they've become a mainstay for both personal and professional applications. A 2017 market research study from the International Data Corporation found that inkjet technology already dominates consumer and wide-format segments and is on an upward trend within production and office environments. In part, this rapid proliferation has been fueled by the consolidation of the printer and copier industries, resulting in a highly competitive marketplace filled with multi-purpose printing solutions.
Among the largest competitors, Epson has cemented itself as a major force within the world of inkjet innovation. The company's dedication to full-spectrum development – from patent to final manufacturing – has helped it stay ahead of its competitors and forge lasting partnerships with other tech companies. In 2017, Epson was positioned as the #1 provider in almost every major market that it competed within, including:
- Large-format Graphics Printers
- Dot Matrix Printers
- Point-of-Sale Printers
- Supertank Printers
- Photo Printers
The only product category Epson did not dominate was desktop printers, instead earning the #2 spot for the year. In addition to its extensive line of printers, Epson also captured a large portion of the projector market and was recognized as the world's leading SCARA Robot manufacturer. With such a wide range of product offerings, it's a bit surprising that the company has been able to remain a front-runner in the inkjet printer market. So how has Epson remained ahead of its competition?
An Inkjet for Every Need
Epson's main advantage has been its drive to produce an extensive array of specialized printers, each with its own unique capabilities and target user groups. Advancements in inkjet technology have allowed the company to offer durable, multi-purpose hardware and affordable printing materials. Inkjet printers benefit from lower supply costs and do not require significant maintenance because the ink delivery system does not actually touch the paper. This results in less wear and tear over the life of the printer, reducing the likelihood of regular component replacements. Additionally, they are less complex than laser and dot matrix alternatives and contain fewer break points, making it a durable printing solution for business applications.
In an effort to meet the production needs of the widest possible customer base, Epson has created a variety of hardware units that fall into four broad categories:
- Mono Inkjet is an affordable, high-yield printing solution that comes as a standard printer or as an MFP. These units only print in black and white, making them perfect for general office applications. Most mono inkjet printers can produce up to 10,000 pages of black text before needing an ink replacement and the low cost of monochrome inks makes it a cost-effective option for corporate and SMB environments.
- Color Inkjet printers and MFPs also allow for high-yield printing with lower energy consumption than most toner-based systems, delivering up to 7,000 pages of colored text before an ink replacement is required. Color inkjets offer professional quality color printing solutions for SMB and corporate workplaces.
- Replaceable Ink Pack System printers and MFPs were specially designed to lower the long-term costs of large-volume printing for both monochrome and color. For example, Epson's WorkForce Pro WF-C869R can print as fast as 24 ISP pages per minute in both black and color, producing around 84,000 pages before the ink packs need to be replaced. In addition, these units are outfitted with wireless technology and Epson Connect software, which makes them a solid investment for large companies and fast-paced production environments.
- Enterprise Inkjet units are some of Epson's most innovative hardware products to date, providing high-speed color and monochrome printing for SMB, corporate and department printing. These MFPs are equipped with advanced PrecisionCore line head technology that produces professional-grade color printing at print speeds up to 100 ISO ppm without using heat application. This allows the device to work with standard 110 V outlets, making office installations easy and inexpensive. For businesses with specialized needs, these units can be outfitted with finisher and high-capacity input accessories.
The Value of Networked Printers
Epson's market success has not been driven by product variety alone, as it's forward-thinking development staff understood the importance of wireless connectivity early on. In the past, networked printers were targeted to large corporations and production companies due to the high purchase price. But as wireless technology became more commonplace, printer manufacturers began incorporating the feature into all of their enterprise-grade hardware.
To better service the needs of SMB customers, Epson created the WorkForce series that has come to define the company's innovative spirit. The WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 is just one example of Epson's full-spectrum approach to workplace networking, featuring ISV customization and MPS compliance through PrintFleet, FMAudit and Print Audit.