Epson promises to save businesses €7bn with new RIPS inkjet printers

Watch out laser, because inkjet is king.

That was Epson's grand message at its "Future of business printing" event in Vienna today.

Traditionally, inkjet printers have catered mainly to the needs of consumers, with businesses instead favouring laser printing technology. Epson wants to overturn these trends.

The Japanese firm claims that inkjet printers have several major advantages over their laser counterparts, with speed, reliability and energy-efficiency topping the charts.

"The case is absolutely compelling," said Rob Clark, Epson's vice president of marketing for EMEAR. "It's not hard to see why inkjet is replacing laser in the office."

Despite the show purporting to explore the future of the printing industry, this inkjet renaissance appears to already be in full swing. IDC's Phil Sargeant hit the main stage armed to the teeth with a legion of relevant facts, figures and predictions, and it made good viewing for inkjet lovers.

"Inkjet is increasing its penetration of the business environment," said Sargeant. "The business inkjet market is a healthy one, and it will continue to be so." Sure enough, according to the statistics, inkjet adoption in the workplace is increasing at a rate of 12 per cent per annum. In contrast, laser's popularity is growing at just two per cent per year.

While this information was perfectly interesting, I did not fly to Vienna just to learn about industry trends. Fortunately, Epson was thinking along the same lines.

The Japanese outfit announced 18 new inkjet business printers, all of which feature its special printhead technology, PrecisionCore. Of these, the WorkForce Pro WF-8000 range is the headline-grabber. The devices that form this series are aimed at all types of companies, from SMEs to large businesses, designed to deliver a low-cost, speedy and efficient service. According to Epson, the WF-8000 devices require up to 80 per cent less power than competitive laser printers.

However, Epson's biggest unveiling came in the form of a small silver pouch. "This is revolutionary," Andrew Semple, the head of Epson's European business unit declared to a room of generally bemused-looking journalists, as he held the bag aloft.

Semple soon explained that the bag represents what Epson believes is something that will enable inkjet machines to eventually squeeze laser printers out of the enterprise. The company has developed a new series of inkjet printers, called the WorkForce Pro RIPS (replaceable ink pack system) range, that it claims will print 75,000 pages before it has to be changed.

According to the company, RIPS will bring huge benefits to businesses. First and foremost, Epson says it will address disruptive, often time-consuming maintenance issues in the workplace, which are said to cost EU5 companies around €7 billion (£5.9 billion) per year. Clark also insists that RIPS will help businesses take advantage of the convenience of a localised printer fleet, but with the predictable costs of a centralised model.

"We believe technology should solve problems," said Clark. "In the world of modern business, downtime is not an option."

RIPS may at first seem like a crazily simple solution to such a wide-reaching problem but, as the phablet phenomenon ("what would happen if we decided to make mobile phones bigger and bigger?") demonstrates, sometimes the most straightforward ideas can prove the most effective.