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HP revamps inkjet printheads

New manufacturing process builds the printhead as a single unit. HP says this means quicker printing times and more colors. Photos: HP separates the colors

Hewlett-Packard is introducing new technology in inkjet printers that it hopes will help fend off rivals.

The company said Monday it is using a new photolithographic process to create inkjet printheads as a single unit, instead of welding different components together. This manufacturing shift is designed to better align the chamber, nozzles and heating element and, in turn, to improve accuracy of ink drop placement. The new printheads can also support at least 3,900 nozzles. The higher nozzle density and greater accuracy in dot placement yield faster and better quality prints, HP said.

With the new product, HP said, it can increase the area the printhead covers with each pass over a page and thus can reduce the amount of time needed to print a page. The increase in the number of nozzles also translates into more available colors, HP said.

"This technology is the next step in our business transformation--the master key that unlocks new market opportunities and further growth in our printer business," Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of imaging and printing at HP, said in a statement.

The company recently made changes in its printing division, restoring it as a separate unit.

On Monday, HP also announced new printers based on the new printheads. The Photosmart 8250 Photo Printer, priced at $199, and Photosmart 3000 All-in-One series, priced from $299 to $399, can print 4-by-6-inch photos in 14 seconds, HP said. These printers feature six individual HP Vivera ink cartridges. The Photosmart 8250 will be available this month; the All-in-One series will debut this fall.

Six portable photo printers were also introduced, including the Photosmart 475 GoGo, a compact photo printer. The $279 machine can print 5-by-7-inch photos, in addition to 4-by-6-inch and panorama prints. The Photosmart 420 series GoGo Photo Studio includes a digital camera and a printer with a dock. It starts at $299.

HP also has added new products to its digital camera line and extended its recently acquired Snapfish online photo service to customers of Walgreens. The new Walgreens service will be available by September.