One thing that was obvious after our briefing with HP marketing and portfolio manager Jordi Monne about the HP Officejet Pro X-series is that, thanks to the company's new PageWide technology, the printhead is no longer one of the three factors limiting the production of faster and more reliable printers. The two factors still getting in the way of faster printing are the speed at which ink dries and the paper delivery mechanism used by most printers.
Accordingly, our conversation led me to wonder whether implementing a vertical delivery method, wherein sheets are fed vertically using gravity rather than horizontally, could be a simple way of reducing the peskiness of conventional paper delivery mechanisms. What’s more, one could envisage coupling this delivery method with a printhead that covers the longer side of a paper sheet, ultimately reducing the distance it has to travel to the chute.
A vertical printer may be more challenging to design by virtue of being taller and potentially posing difficulties in the integration of scanning capabilities, but the advantages are undeniable. Such a printer would occupy a fraction of the space required by a comparable traditional laser model. It would also be much quieter, because the only moving part required would be the one pushing the paper sheets through the chute, past the printheads.
A vertical setup may also help the development of more sophisticated duplex printers by using two printheads placed in front of one another with the sheet passing between both.
There has been at least one precedent of a vertically designed laser printer, the Panasonic KX-P6500 built in 2000, but it may be time to re-visit the concept.