Epson president shares future of projector and printer tech

It’s not on daily basis that you simply get to take a seat down for a chat with an organization president, particularly one from a know-how big. We had the chance to talk to Mr Yasunori Ogawa, Seiko Epson International President, throughout his go to to Australia to debate the way forward for projector and printer know-how as a part of the corporate’s fortieth anniversary.

As Epson’s key merchandise embrace printers and projectors, I used to be interested in the place these match right into a future the place we’ll doubtless be printing much less, and have extra entry to low-cost, big-screen large TVs. Nevertheless, what I wasn’t anticipating to be taught was in regards to the new and progressive ways in which Epson plans to adapt its know-how for the longer term, in addition to advances in augmented actuality glasses – however extra on this later!

A hands-on profession

Mr. Ogawa wasn’t simply helicoptered into the highest place at Seiko Epson Company, he’s had a remarkably hands-on profession with many foundational roles throughout the corporate’s numerous portfolio.  

Beginning in 1988, Mr Ogawa was tasked with designing picture sensors for Epson’s fax machines. He then moved on to the projector division, the place he labored on commercialising the primary Epson projector.

It was in 2017 when Mr Ogawa was appointed CEO, and a 12 months afterwards, Director and CEO. Not resting on his laurels, he additionally grew to become CTO accountable for R&D and manufacturing.

In 2019, Mr Ogawa devoted his time to Epson’s wearables division, which is a part of Epson’s industrial options enterprise.

When not working, Mr. Ogawa is a eager skier, a passionate soccer fan and simply so occurs to be an achieved ukulele participant.

Printing the longer term

Beginning with the common-or-garden printer, Mr. Ogawa believes that it has seen essentially the most evolution because it was launched. Aside from utilizing ink, Epson’s print heads have diversified to new functions together with the power to print little dots on OLED tv panels and tiny metallic wiring for digital circuit boards. Nevertheless, most enjoyable is that rather than ink, Mr. Ogawa says that quickly: “you may print human cells,” opening up extremely thrilling biotechnology analysis and experimentation alternatives.

Epson Paper Lab machine
Epson’s Paper Lab can recycle paper utilizing much less water. Credit score: Epson

But it surely’s not simply industrial functions. Epson’s specialised print know-how also can profit the atmosphere. Epson makes a machine referred to as “Paper Lab” offered in Japan and Europe that permits paper recycling with minimal use of water.  Additionally, the identical know-how could be utilized to show paper right into a packaging ‘sponge’ type of like a pure Styrofoam. This may also be fashioned right into a tougher plastic-like materials to make helpful objects reminiscent of backyard chairs. Mr. Ogawa says that the know-how also can recycle materials, and known as “dry fibre”.

The paperless workplace?

After all, in relation to printing within the fashionable age, the large query is “When will the paperless workplace occur? Shouldn’t we’ve stopped utilizing paper by now?” Mr Ogawa believes that “in ten 12 months’s time we’ll nonetheless have printing on paper.” Nevertheless, he concedes that “our reliance on screens implies that our printing wants are getting smaller.” 

Ogawa expects that sooner or later, environmentally acutely aware printing will likely be centre stage. As laser printing is the dominant know-how in workplaces and firms as we speak, Epson’s alternative lies in changing these machines into inkjet printers.

In comparison with inkjet, laser printers require extra power and still have disposable components like cartridges and drum models. Epson’s inkjet printers, then again, don’t require warmth to fuse ink onto the web page, and wish fewer consumables as its ink tanks could be refilled.

In ten 12 months’s time we’ll nonetheless have printing on paper.

Mr Yasunori Ogawa, Seiko Epson International President

Whereas there will likely be work wanted to re-educate company clients who’re accustomed to laser printing, inkjet know-how has definitely progressed, with improved printing speeds and large-capacity ink bottles to cut back waste.  

Inkjet may also be used rather than specialised machines reminiscent of analogue cloth printers. Right here, inkjet reduces the necessity for print plates, and requires much less ink and water. Mr Ogawa additionally says that Epson’s print heads have developed to have the ability to print on different supplies reminiscent of wallpaper and even tiles, opening new and inventive functions for actually customised design.

This versatility is in some half because of Epson’s distinctive Piezo-Electrical print head know-how. Established years in the past, this makes use of tiny Piezo Electrical crystals to exactly ‘push’ ink from nozzles. This has additionally differentiated Epson from its opponents, reminiscent of Canon, which makes use of thermally activated ‘bubble jet’ know-how as an alternative. Mr Ogawa mentioned that Piezo Electrical is “nonetheless core print tech but additionally distinctive as a result of it’s scalable throughout the entire line. There are additionally price benefits when it comes to quantity in addition to efficiency.”

Australian market variations

Evaluating the Australian market, Mr Ogawa believes that it’s much like many Western markets, and never vastly totally different to America and Western Europe. “There are many worth rises so that is difficult”, he defined. Epson Australia MD Craig Heckenberg added that know-how traits are likely to occur faster in Australia as a result of it’s a smaller market, and has the identical opponents combating over a smaller pie.

It was fascinating to notice that Australia has a better customary for print high quality than many different international locations. Australia additionally sells extra higher-end equipment than Europe or America. Mr Heckenberg additionally mentioned that Australia has a better concern for the atmosphere than different international locations together with the US.

On the horizon is a ‘print as a service’ sort mannequin referred to as ReadyPrint. This primarily lets folks pay for his or her printer and the ink they use as a part of a subscription. Mr Ogawa believes that this enterprise mannequin “will present benefits for the shopper”. He additionally famous that Epson is trialling the ReadyPrint service in Australia, and it has been operating efficiently in Europe, with the “no lock-in contract” contributing to rising demand.

Projecting the longer term

Transferring on to Epson’s projectors, the large query is what lighting know-how will likely be used to gentle up our screens. Mr Ogawa mentioned that “the sunshine supply is altering from lamps to laser” so there’s little doubt we’ll be seeing extra laser projectors. Mr Ogawa added that laser is “extra power environment friendly, and has an extended life.” And within the extra distant future, Mr Ogawa says “we are able to additionally shine lasers on LCDs, and past, we are able to use gentle emitting sources.”

When how client wants are altering within the projector house, Mr Ogawa seems to be to what’s occurring in China as an indicator for issues to come back.

“There’s a give attention to house projecting, sensible projectors linked to the web with excessive brightness, and really compact.”

This aligns with the moveable projector traits GadgetGuy is seeing with the recognition of Samsung’s moveable Freestyle projector, in addition to LG’s upcoming CineBeam Dice. These projectors are simple to take with you, enabling impromptu film or gaming nights indoors and outdoor.

Curiously, Mr Ogawa famous that moveable projection is rising in recognition amongst younger Chinese language folks, which can be catching on in different areas. Additional to that time, he famous that “…they assume that a big TV is a waste of house and wish one thing that they’ll transfer from place to put.”

After all, with portability, it’s not shocking that “the necessity for very excessive brightness projectors is rising”. Mr Ogawa believes that development in sensible moveable projectors will quickly unfold to different markets.

Prolonged Actuality on the horizon

Prolonged actuality, or ‘XR’ headsets, are getting plenty of consideration because of Apple’s new Imaginative and prescient Professional and Meta’s Quest 3 hitting the market lately. Whereas not a serious product space, Epson continues to be promoting digital actuality glasses as we speak.

Nevertheless, extra thrilling is that the corporate makes the Optical Engine, which is a core know-how utilized in XR forms of gadgets. Optical Engines are literally very small OLED panels that additionally must be light-weight, compact and power environment friendly. These must final a very long time as nicely, which generally is a problem with OLED-type screens.

“They must be small and lightweight and that’s the problem, and Epson is doing R&D on that”, Ogawa mentioned.

Time will inform simply how massive this chance is for Epson because the know-how matures and extra folks wish to combine prolonged actuality headsets into their every day lives.

40 years and past

With 40 years behind it, there’s little doubt that Epson has thrilling alternatives in addition to obstacles to beat within the years forward. It’s clear that the corporate is up for the problem, and there’s little denying its success.

Right here in Australia, Epson began in 1983 with a small group of 20 folks within the suburb of Frenchs Forest on the northern seashores of Sydney. It’s now 150 folks sturdy, with workplaces throughout Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.

Epson 40 year anniversary logo

And it even will get observed by its international boss, who mentioned that “Epson is dedicated to attaining sustainability and supporting the group, and no group firm embodies this dedication greater than Epson Australia.”

It is going to be fascinating to see what the corporate has change into in one other 40 years.

Learn extra printer tech information on GadgetGuy

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