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Latex and Toner Taking on Wide-Format Imaging

(July 2008) posted on Thu Jul 03, 2008

Greene discusses two new technologies that might be emerging at just the right time for you to secure a better place in the market for your graphics business.

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By Tim Greene

Ive been thinking a lot lately about timing and execution, may-be because it’s basketball season. At InfoTrends, we’re always thinking about strategic issues such as new printing technologies, market strategies, and the implications of mergers and acquisitions. These are often some of the dramatic market developments that change the lay of the land in a particular business. The most important factors that affect whether these activities will be a success or failure are timing and execution.

Timing is sometimes beyond our control, so the news of a product introduction or company acquisition might fall flat, while other times new products and technologies appear to address the hottest issues in the market. For manufacturers of digital printing equipment, successful execution means bringing to market products and technologies that solve business problems.

Two technologies I have learned about recently appear to be in the latter category for both good timing and execution: HP’s Latex inkjet printing system and Océ’s ColorWave technology. Based on our research, we think there are three key issues in the wide-format-printing market right now: costs of operating the printer, sustainability, and productivity/workflow. These technologies from HP and Océ appear to address these three key issues in different ways.


What is latex ink?

Latex ink is actually water-based ink with polymer particles that are essentially melted onto the substrate. The polymers are linked to a binding agent that secures the colorant to the media’s surface. There are no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) because they are water-based inks; however, separate drying stations are required to dry the water contained in the inks. HP’s Latex inks would work on uncoated media in the same manner that robust solvent inkjet inks do. The first piece of wide-format printing equipment based on HP’s Latex inks can print at nearly 1000 sq ft/hr. So, HP’s Latex inks are formulated to enable lower running costs, eliminate the VOC issue, and improve productivity.


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