Until now it has jealously guarded its technology, preventing companies that Epson might conceivably compete with using the printhead. Screen struck a deal for the previous printhead for use in the first version of its TruepressJet 520 continuous feed press, but it has had to look elsewhere for subsequent versions.
The change of heart follows the opening of a factory to expand printhead production at the end of last year which has tripled the capacity for making the printhead which went into full production in 2013.
Until the opening of the new plant, Epson’s printer portfolio could take all the heads the company could make. Some of the F1440 printheads have found their way to the Chinese market for use in large format machines, but these are from a previous generation and not the heads that will now be made available to OEMs.
These are the L1440, a 25mm 360dpi aqueous only printhead and the S3200 600dpi printhead with a 120mm print width. This will be up against printheads from Fuji Dimatix, Ricoh, Kyocera, Konica Minolta and Xaar in aqueous, solvent and UV printing applications.
“The shift to digital is accelerating,” says Satoru Hosono, general manager of the technology management division. “The market needs high quality and easy to use functionality to respond to rapid expansion of the market. But in commercial and industrial printing, there are limits to what we can do on our own.”
“It makes sense to have more partnerships that we can reach with our technology,” says Duncan Ferguson, VP, professional printing and robotics, Epson Europe and Epson’s UK country manager. “In the past we have been very careful with the printhead, electronics and inks because we wanted to control the technology. Now we are looking to create a lot of new partnerships for new applications.”
Details of each will be considered on a project by project basis, with strong demand already coming from Europe. The technical support team will be strengthened he explains, potentially as an operation at arm’s length from the core Epson business so keeping OEM and brand sales apart.
There are plans to extend the width of the printhead array for the PrescisionCore heads to address single pass applications.
Epson showed products from its stable of wide format printers at Fespa as well as applications as diverse as printing on leather, wallcoverings and textiles. But its most important announcement is likely to that it will make its respected PrecisionCore print head available to OEMs.