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Memjet Cometh

Will a new inkjet technology revolutionize printing?

The inkjet printer industry is starting to sound a bit like eighteenth century France with all its ‘revolutions.’ (Thankfully, the only severed heads in the inkjet revolution come from poorly cropped photos.)

Nevertheless, many analysts say there is indeed another one in the making with “Memjet.”

The brain-child of Australian inventor Kia Silverbrook, the new inkjet technology promises 60-page per minute color print speeds and will cost less than existing color laser printers, according to Silverbrook Research.

A Memjet-enabled printer can produce 30 4-inch by 6-inch photos in one minute (a photo every two seconds) – far exceeding traditional inkjet printer speeds – according to Silverbrook. The technology can also crank out full color 8.5 by 11-inch pages.

The technology prints at native 1600 by 1600 dpi resolution with one picoliter droplets. Right now it uses dye inks and consumables are expected to cost between $10 and $15 for “six months of normal usage.” It owes its speed to the fact that the print heads span the length of a page, rather than on a rack that glides back and forth (videos of it in action, here).

The company will license the technology to OEMs targeting the home/office, photo-kiosk and label markets. A “business-class” printer is expected to retail for under $300.

No word on who exactly will slap their brand on this technology – though the Economist speculates it could be Dell, Panasonic or Samsung. On the kiosk front, PhotoMe International is testing the technology for in-store photo printing.

According to Silverbrook, Memjet has been in development for over 10 years and is covered by 1,400 patents (with 2,000 more pending).

Lyra Research has seen it in action and their analysts are saying it will “turn upside down” several print-related industries. And, in case that’s not enough hype, the inventors of the technology are already talking about 360 pages per minute.