Technical Help

So why are some desktops cheaper to run than others?

I thought this would be an interesting one to cover. Partly because I previously worked for one of the innovator’s within the print industry who were the first to introduce more sophisticated technology, and partly because, still to this day, it’s still seems to be somewhat of a mystery, to most people at least.

Rather than bore you with the history of the OPC drum and who designed what, then which manufacturer was it licensed to, it’s simpler to explain the technology.

Conventional printers use an imaging cartridge that integrates a OPC drum, developer and toner into a single, disposable unit. When the toner is depleted, the entire cartridge is disposed of and replaced with a new unit — at significant cost and inconvenience to the user. This system may be compared to a car in which the fuel tank, engine and transmission were constructed as a single module. Under this concept, owners would have to replace the engine, transmission and fuel tank every time they ran out of gas!

Now, combining this technology with the masterstroke pulled off by HP Marketeers many, many years ago, the HP brand became synonymous with desktop printing, and whenever someone required a printer, the term LaserJet sprang to mind.

All the above was, although very profitable for HP, it was in fact, from the late 80’s, an already outdated design, which only recently, did start to see it’s market share eroded by a more cost effective, more environmentally friendly desktop laser technology.

Below is a nice illustration; one the right you have an HP cartridge broken down consisting of 60+ parts, all of which are produced, used, and then obsolete. The user then replaces the cartridge with another at their cost, replacing all these parts each time the toner runs out.  In effect replacing the vehicle engine each time the fuel runs out.  One the left, each the time the toner(fuel) runs out, only the toner (the fuel) is replaced. So where are the other parts?  Well, the boffins at Kyocera coated the other internals with Amorphous Silicon which meant the internal parts are extremely hard wearing, requiring less frequent replacement for these internals. With a little ‘jiggery pokery’ Kyocera reconfigured the print engine so only the ‘fuel tank’ needed replacing when the toner ran out. This technology was perfected by Kyocera some years ago, but is now available in other brands across the industry, although perhaps not to the extent of Kyocera desktop printers.

At CSR Digital, because most of our customers who still use desktop printers are doing so with reasonable volumes, we use the same technology albeit from Olivetti, whom the technology is licensed to by Kyocera under OEM agreement. The technology really works!