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HP unveils printing technology for high-end office market

By next spring, some business printers will feature technology that boasts faster speed, better quality.

SAN FRANCISCO--Hewlett-Packard's newest ink-based printing technology, HP Edgeline, will be built into printers geared toward the high-end office market, the company announced Tuesday. The technology was first introduced last spring in in-store retail photo-printing kiosks.

"It's ink-based printing for huge-volume workloads," said Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of the HP Imaging and Printing Group, as he introduced the technology at a press conference in downtown San Francisco. The technology is aimed at companies that print hundreds of thousands or even millions of brochures or direct mailings.

HP will begin incorporating the patented technology into some business printers in spring 2007. Edgeline technology refers to HP printers constructed so that the print heads are laid in wide arrays, or side by side, to stretch across a whole page. Instead of the print heads moving and squirting ink onto a page like most inkjet printers, with Edgeline, the paper will move while the print heads remain stationary, and the job can be completed in just one or two passes.

"It's four times faster than anything we've done before," Gary Cutler, vice president of digital printing technologies at HP, said in an interview following the press event. And because the print heads are motionless, that amounts to more accurate ink placement and better image quality, he added.

Joshi said printers with Edgeline technology will also dispense smaller drops of ink at a rate of 1.8 billion per second. Previously, HP's best was in the "low hundreds of millions" of drops per second, according to Cutler.

The design is cheaper to build and more reliable because there are fewer moving parts, Hatem Mostafa, senior vice president of inkjet systems said in an interview.

Between now and 2009, there's about $30 billion worth of business in the retail, industrial and high-volume office printing markets that HP hopes to grab, Cutler said.