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ART / SCIENCE FORUM Society for Imaging Science and Technology, 11th International Conference (1995)Non -Impact Printing Technologies D. Tulia Lightfoot The Non-Impact Printing Technologies conference, held in November 1995, was organized into two separate tracks, although there were also sessions for discussion of topics outside the defined scope. Track one dealt with printers that use electrostatically controlled toner particles; track two dealt with printers that use fluids such as inks, dyes or melted wax. The latter type of printer is currently the type we connect to a computer to generate hard, color copies. The former is thought of as being the office-copier type, which most commonly mass-produces black-andwhite sheets of text and images using a modified photographic process with a latent image. The distinction between these two types of printers becomes blurred, because the electrophotographic process is giving way to a hybrid digital photographic process that is currently high in price but commonly used in photojournalism. Also, the demand for color reproductions on paper and on transparencies is rapidly increasing , from businesses as well as from the home-market consumer. Aside from the sharing of technological and scientific information, there was a great deal of talk at the conference about the market and the consumer. While producers of non-impact printers do not think they can compete with conventional photography and off-set presses for large run jobs (5,000 or more copies), they do feel that for short-run printing or demand printing (currently a [U.S.] $60 billion world market) their products will soon have the advantage. This will have implications for artists and home users, who will soon be able to purchase their own printer/ copiers that allow them to make reproductions of their own images . And, if their home-based equipment cannot handle the job, they will soon be able to go to "traditional" copy centers that are expected to expand their services to include digital creation and printing ability (some already do). For businesses, the expectations are that they will no longer have to pay outside printers for each job. Instead, they will house their own equipment and pay a fixed cost per month for machine rental and maintenance. This will allow them to print what is needed, when it is needed and where it is needed. Business surveys assembled by the Information Management Institute and interpreted by Philip Sliva from Xerox in New York confirm this projection. Sliva also predicted a move away from a demand for black-and-white to color printing, and from single-function to multi-function hardware (printer, fax, copier and scanner all in one), with ink jet being the primary driver for both office and home. Charles Le Compte, from Lyra Research in Massachusetts, predicted that every general-purpose printer will soon be replaced by a color printer. Some skeptics argued that the business world has little interest in color printing, but they were reminded of the explosion of different fonts and type styles now in use in business documents where, not so long ago, the courier font of the IBM Selectric typewriter was the norm. Other presenters concurred with the idea that color can only improve the ability to convey information and that businesses, mindful ofwhat will give them a competitive edge, will want to keep up with each other. It is expected that, by 2005, most business documents will include color. Document production is predicted to rise until approximately the year 2015, at which time it is expected that workers will have become more used to reading from the computer screen than reading hard copy. Lucien de Schamphaleare, from Seikon in Germany, does not believe that the future lies with the ink-jet printer. While he admitted that we are able to get high quality and high speed from ink-jet printing, he added that we cannot get both at the same time. De Schamphaleare noted that the task of keeping 6,000 jets going at rapid speeds, without having some of them plug up, seems overwhelming. He suggested that what needs to be developed is the "toner-jet" printer. Researchers in electrography are hard at work on problems such as "Dry 4...


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pp. 139-140
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