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Kyocera claims colour printing cost breakthrough

Will Garside
A new printing technology from Kyocera Mita can reduce the high running costs associated with colour printing by two-thirds, the company claims.

Ian Joslin, the head of sales for Kyocera Mita, said: "You can't make claims like this unless you can back them up. We've placed evaluation units with five large pan-European corporations so they can prove for themselves that our technology works and that our cost saving are valid in real-world examples."

Kyocera said it would formally launch the FS-8000C colour laser printer based on the new technology in the next three months.

Joslin claims that one large UK financial organisation is evaluating several FS-8000C units and will buy 300 of them if it is convinced that the manufacturer's claim of a £3m cost saving over two years can be met.

The printer is based on amorphous silicon drum technology, which was originally developed for monochrome laser printers.

But the technology has not taken off in monochrome printers, Joslin admitted, because the cost per page is already relatively small. "In colour printers where the typical cost per page is much higher, the savings are much more important," he added.

Julio Vial, the printer research manger for the analyst firm IDC, said: "We had heard about this Kyocera technology but we had yet to see a working model. The problem with colour laser has always been the high running cost, high initial price and slow speeds.

"We welcome this effort to reduce the total cost of ownership for colour laser printers but there is still a big issue on how to calculate accurate total cost of ownership. It will be interesting to see the results of their trials."

On average, colour printing is eight times more expensive than mono printing. This is due to toner cost and the fact that users tend to print complex graphics that use more toner per page than simple text.

IDC will next month release a report on the western European printer market. The report will show the colour laser printer market growing at around 30% a year but accounting for only 5% of the total printer market.

Kyocera has said that it will release data validated by both customers and third-party test labs to coincide with the launch of the FS-8000C in mid-October.

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