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Printing and Peripherals

IDC: Q4 2014 W. European Printer Shipments Down

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IDC: Q4 2014 W. European Printer Shipments Down

IDC reports the Q4 2014 W. European printer and multifunction (MFP) market shows "slight" shipment declines of 0.8% Y-o-Y, as units reach 6.84 million units due to drops in consumer inkjet shipments.

However the analyst also says revenues are up during the quarter, thanks to growing high speed laser MFP and business inkjet shipments. The same goes for overall 2014, as IDC says the MFP market is recovering with shipments growing by 2.9% as more major segments continue to shift from single-function to multi-function printers.

MFP products account for 82.4% of both Q4 and overall 2014 shipments, with the overall MFP growing by a minimal 0.6% as printers decline by -6.5%. Laser MFPs show most at 8.3% (with 17.3% for colour devices and 1.6% for mono), while the overall A4 laser printer declines by almost -1%, proof of the threat from business inkjets according to the analyst.

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Gartner: 3D Printer Market "At Inflection Point"

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Gartner: 3D Printer Market

According to Gartner the 3D printer market is "is at an inflection point", as global shipments are forecast to reach 217350 units in 2015, up from 108151 in 2014, before growing to over 2.3 million by 2018.

"Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015," the analyst says. "As radical as the forecast numbers may seem, bear in mind that even the 2.3 million shipments that we forecast will be sold in 2018 are a small fraction of the total potential market of consumers, businesses and government organisations worldwide."

Leading the market through 2018 in 3D printing technologies is material extrusion, since it is the technology behind consumer (sub-$1000) 3D printer segment. Driving consumer 3D printer adoption is lower prices, improved performance and expanded global availability.

On the enterprise side, 3D printing viability for prototypes and manufacturing, together with lower costs, improved quality and a wider material range are main market drivers.

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Airbus Develops Inkjet Printer… For Planes

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Airbus Develops Inkjet Printer… For Planes

Airbus might be the last name one might expect to take on printing technologies-- after all, it is an aircraft maker-- but that is exactly what the company is working on, if as a means to paint liveries on planes.

Painting a plane is something of a tricky business, one involving either a time-consuming process of multiple paint layers or the sticking of, well, giant stickers. The Airbus method promises to make the process a lot simpler via direct inkjet printing.

Inkjet printing on a plane is actually quite similar to inkjet printing on paper-- an inkjet head sprays 3 basic colours (cyan, magenta and yellow) and black, line by line, on an aircraft component on a 7m-square bench. Once printing is done a clear coat seals the component.

Airbus says the process allows for colour gradients and photorealistic motifs without need for heavy printed films.

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Samsung Intros Android-Powered MFPs

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Samsung Intros Android-Powered MFPs

Samsung announces not one, not two, but ten MultiXpress multi-function printers (MFPs) at IFA 2014, all featuring Android as OS and designed for use in all types of business applications.

The 10 models are divided in 4 categories, namely the X4300 A3 colour, K4350 A3 monochrome, M5370 A4 monochrome and M4580 A4 monochrome.

The Android-based MFPs also feature Smart UX Centre, which according to the company allows operation independent from PCs, while providing app scalability and a user-friendly touch-based UI accessible via 10.1-inch touchscreen. Users can effectively search and print from web browsers, emails, maps, images and other types of content without connection to a PC and server, while the touchscreen allows document previews, editing and annotations.

Making the touch-based UI even more tactile is haptic feedback via vibrations, a first for the technology.

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Gartner: Mainstream 3D Printing "Will Take Time"

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Gartner: Mainstream 3D Printing

According to Gartner 3D printing might be evolving rapidly but it is still at least 5 to 10 years away from consumer adoption, even as enterprise and medical applications start seeing more compelling use cases.

"Today, approximately 40 manufacturers sell the 3D printers most commonly used in businesses, and over 200 startups worldwide are developing and selling consumer-oriented 3D printers, priced from just a few hundred dollars," the analyst says. "However, even this price is too high for mainstream consumers at this time, despite broad awareness of the technology and considerable media interest."

The Gartner Hype Cycle for 3D printing notes two running themes for the nascent industry-- enterprise and consumer 3D printing are very different from each other, and 3D printing consists of not of one but seven technologies.

First off, consumer and enterprise 3D printing represent different uses and requirements, even if organizations currently make use of "consumer" devices. This demands separate evaluation of the two markets.

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