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Printer manufacturers’ response to CISS concept migrates to laser printers

CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System), conceived by the third party ink supply industry many years ago, has so challenged the printer manufacturers that in the last year or two several of them have come up with a couple of different ways to combat the threat to their own original ink supplies.  Obviously seeing some success in its implementation of a CISS response with some of its inkjet printers, HP has now launched a laser printer using the same concept of ‘2-year’s-worth’ of toner.

ciss-setBehind the development of the CISS concept was the age-old complaint of consumers that ink is too expensive and supplies do not last long enough – i.e. they need changing too often at an exorbitant price!  So, the solution was simple. Feed tubes from ink tanks that sit outside the printer into the printer and attach them to the print head instead of the ink tanks that normally sit on the head. This allows a relatively huge supply of ink to sit beside the printer, not needing to be changed (or rather, refilled) for a very long time. Potentially, this supply of ink could last the life of the printer.

ciss-on-epsonSome users loved the concept and there are now many systems available for a variety of printers. CISS has been most popular in the Eastern European region and developing markets, where users are very price sensitive and will go to almost any lengths to minimise their cost of printing (even risking the health of their printers by using third party supplies and the printer modification required to fit a CISS).

The concept has been much less popular in Western Europe and North America.

epson-ecotank-et-3600However, in recent years, Epson has introduced an actual Epson branded CISS printer, targeted mainly at the Eastern European markets but that has also been introduced in Western Europe and America. Needless to say, this sets the other printer manufacturers into a spin, with the need to find a response to Epson’s new model. It is one thing for them to ignore the third party industry but quite another to ignore one of their prime competitors!!

So, what have they done?

Well, not willing to compromise the integrity of their ranges of printers, two other manufacturers, HP and Brother, have introduced inkjet models that are supplied with an estimated 2-years-worth of ink in the box (i.e. several sets of ink cartridges). This means that, although users have to change ink cartridges at the same intervals as normal, they have the replacement cartridges already to hand and shouldn’t need to worry about having to buy more ink for around two years (by which time the printer manufacturers hope the users will be thinking about buying a new printer anyway!).

Just announced today, HP has migrated this concept over to three new models of laser printer. But don’t get too excited – they are only available in certain (selected) markets! As yet, these markets are unspecified but HP’s general practice is to test a new concept in a small number of the most relevant and receptive markets before rolling the program out world-wide.  Even if these machines are only available in Eastern European countries to begin with, it is highly likely that we’ll see them in Western Europe and North America in the not too distant future.

Supplying the printer with two year’s worth of ink or toner has two obvious benefits:

  • for the customer it helps to minimise the Cost of Printing and the hassle factor of having to go and source new cartridges for a while
  • for HP it helps protect against that customer going and sourcing third party cartridges for their new printer – for a while at least!

Falling into the HP Laserjet Ultra M106w and HP Laserjet Ultra MFP M134 series of printers, these new mono laser printers are supplied with three toner cartridges, providing around 6,900 pages – estimated to be two-years-worth of pages at the normal target usage of the devices. They are aimed at unmanaged printing environments within small businesses where print volumes are significant – 6,900 pages over two years equates to nearly 290 pages per month or about 14-15 pages per day – and where customers are concerned to keep printing costs as low as possible.

Very little other information is available right now but it is believed that these LaserJet Ultra models offer mono printing to 23ppm and are optimised for mobile printing from smartphones and tablets without the need for those devices to be connected to a company network (thus maintaining the highest levels of network security while allowing flexibility in printing).