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Printing and Peripherals

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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Hardcopy Markets Going Strong Says IDC

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Hardcopy Markets Going Strong Says IDC

According to IDC W. European printer and multifunction (MFP) markets are growing strong, with the Q2 2014 market growing by 5% Y-o-Y as shipments reach 4.92 million units.

The analyst mentions a number of "positive growth areas," namely the colour laser and inkjet segments, but monochrome laser printers contract as the market continues moving towards colour products.

MFP products make 78% of Q2 2014 shipments with 7.8% Y-o-Y growth, while printers are down by -3.6%. Colour laser and inkjet printers increase for both MFP and printer segments, but monochrome markets decline in both categories and printer products are down at a faster rate than MFP.

Further on IDC says "most countries" show growth in Q2 2014, but certain markets are still struggling with recover as growth patterns vary with some countries showing strong double-digit growth while others remain in the low  single digits.

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Canalys: 3D Printers Gain Traction

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Canalys: 3D Printers Gain Traction

According to Canalys Q1 2014 3D printer shipments reach 26800 units, with 52% being enterprise purchases while the rest going consumer use in proof of increasingly competitively priced units.

"Businesses from a range of industries have invested in the technology to experiment and test its potential, to expedite design and prototyping processes, or to enable local customised manufacturing," the analyst says. ‘While enterprise engagement will continue to grow, it looks to be the consumer space that will drive shipments in the near future."

Canalys says 67% of 3D printers shipped in Q1 2014 cost below $10000 pre-tax, and a number of basic printers come at sub-$1000 and even sub-$500 prices. Such competitive pressures will only cause prices to fall further, making the technology more affordable to businesses and consumers alike.

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