A customer the other day asked if we would go out of business if the major printer manufacturers developed a printer that didn’t use ink or toner.
I told him that no, we would be in no danger of going out of business. We know this because the inkless printing “revolution” began around two years ago and has yet to make any significant impact on consumers.
Zink is perhaps the best known application of inkless printing. Polaroid has also explored the concept of printing without ink. For an overview of how inkless printing works, check out howstuffworks.com.
The problem with the current state of inkless printing is the very thing that makes it possible, the paper. Just about anywhere you go in America there is a store that sells ink and/or toner cartridges. No matter where you live you can buy paper for your printer. But what happens if you’re in need of the special ink-embossed paper for your inkless printer and the only way you can get it is on the internet. No major problem if you’re at home. But what if you’re on vacation or visiting relatives? Will the supplier ship to a temporary address? How long will you have to stay in one place in order to get the paper shipped to you?
And what if the majority of printing you do is receipts, recipes and email? Is it worth paying a premium price for ink-embedded paper for those mundane tasks?
Also consider the inkless printer. Most of the designs envision a 4″x6″ form factor, meaning if you want to make an 8.5″x11″ print you’ll need to export your images to a flash memory card and transfer them to a full-sized printer.
Inkless printing may indeed be the future but it’s not ready for primetime just yet. Even when it is, many users will be sticking to their “old fashioned” ink and toner printers for quite a while. We see this in technology every day. Windows XP is still the most popular version of the Windows operating system in use today even though two newer versions, Vista and Windows 7, have been introduced since XP was released. Many individuals and businesses operate on the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” principle. They’ve gotten used to XP and see no compelling reason to upgrade, especially when that requires buying newer hardware and having to reinstall programs.
CWSD will be supporting those who are still using ink and toner printers for many years to come. We still have customers using some of the very first HP laser printers designed for home use.
If anything our customer base is growing rapidly. Last year was our most profitable year yet, and this year is starting off just as strong. Businesses that once were content to pay for expensive service contracts with office supply stores or printer manufacturers have had to re-examine their budgets and face the fact that they can no longer justify paying a premium price for something that they could just as easily buy from us without sacrificing quality yet save 35% or more in cost.
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