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By Editor Morten B. Reitoft 

A couple of days ago, I read an article/analysis/opinion by German Sacristan from Keypoint Intelligence titled 'What is the future of Electrophotography?'

It made me wonder. I couldn't help thinking about how much Inkjet is exposed, though the number of units in the market is a fraction of the toner-based units. Of course, vendors producing Inkjet want to push the agenda towards Inkjet, but all vendors also develop and produce toner, so why is this the case?

For books, newspapers, transactional/transpromo, it makes a lot of sense, and of course, it also makes sense when you have a large volume of short runs. It also does make sense if you have a considerable volume with toner and can move work to Inkjet with lower operating costs.

Plenty of reasons, and with the Digital Transformation pushing everybody, it's also apparent that printers look at digital Inkjet when considering the next offset machine - BUT that said, there are hundreds of thousands of toner-based printers in the world - so what is the future for toner?

When German Sacristan writes what he does, I believe he talks on behalf of Keypoint Intelligence and that his sayings are backed by substantial and representative data - of course, however, when I look at toner - it still has a few significant advantages.

Acquisition cost is an essential parameter for many printing companies, and with many different machines and vendors, printers most likely can find devices that fit their company size?

Substrate diversity is also an important parameter. For now, only a few cut-sheet Inkjet devices can be found on the market - and if we look at the Kyocera TASKalfa Pro 15000C, it's a great machine, but still with limitations. So when vendors push Inkjet, it's primarily roll-based devices.

The Canon ix-series is a significant exception, and Canon seems to have produced a workhorse that has achieved excellent market acceptance.

An extended color gamut is also something you primarily see on toner-based machines. I am not talking about 7-color devices like the Landa and Fujifilm, but generally saying that it's for now ONLY in toner you see fluorescent colors, metallic options, and even clear inks.

And finally - according to Golan Landsberg from HP, toner has the potential of being faster than Inkjet, which is ONE of the primary KPIs talking Inkjet.

The operational cost of toner vs. Inkjet is always said to favor Inkjet. Still, pricing is often based on political and business decisions over a pure cost perspective, so could toner be as competitive as Inkjet?

Not for me to answer, but what is interesting to consider is that selling print in the future MAY change from being based on the cost to value. If you look at how toner is developing, not much indicates a sudden death. Xeikon continues investing and developing toner-based devices. Kodak last year announced their new embellishment machine Ascend - also based on toner.

Of course, technologies develop according to needs, and the market is changing these years rapidly - and in many different directions.

Writing this article has made me curious, and I will see if I can access some of the newest toner-based printers to get myself updated on what they can deliver! Stay Tuned!

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