Printer makers get behind new standard

Printer makers are rallying behind a new standard that allows users to measure print yields more accurately.

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By  Peter Branton Published  June 28, 2004

Printer makers are rallying behind a new standard that allows users to measure print yields more accurately. The new standard can be used to evaluate third-party products and refilled cartridges against the manufacturers’ own cartridges. HP, Canon, Epson and Lexmark have all announced their support of the new laser printer toner cartridge yield benchmark from industry body ISO. The new standard is only for black and white laser printers, although the vendors have given their backing for it to be extended to colour lasers and inkjets. The new ISO standard aims to define the key attributes that affect yield, so that all manufacturers can utilise the same methodology when measuring it. The ISO has worked hard to make the testing as rigorous as possible, for instance, at least nine cartridges are tested on a minimum of three separate printers to allow for variations in hardware. And rather than just taking an average yield, the ISO said it will use a “robust statistical method” to calculate a more accurate result. The reason for this thoroughness is simple: accurately and satisfactorily measuring print yields from competing cartridges is one of the printing industry’s great bugbears. Without an agreed standard for measuring yield, manufacturers have relied on a variety of different methods to do so, making it confusing for the customer to choose which product is best. Worse, printer manufacturers regularly face accusations of overcharging for consumables, a claim that has always been disputed by the vendors themselves, pointing out the high cost in research and development needed to produce new cartridges and other consumable products. However, last year UK publication Which? magazine said that printer manufacturers do overcharge for printer cartridges. By being able to compare their products to third-party, remanufactured, and refilled cartridges, the vendors hope the quality of their products will stand out. “This new standard should be a call for action to the printing industry” said Seiichi Hirano, director and chief executive of the Imaging and Information Products Operations division, Seiko Epson. “Widespread adoption will ensure customers have access to yield information that they can rely on when making the purchasing decision.” While broadly welcomed, industry figures have pointed out that the new ISO standard is limited as it only measures yield, that is the number of pages that can be turned out, not quality. “Yield is only one among many factors in the overall costs of printing,” said Pradeep Jotwani, senior vice president, HP Imaging and Printing Group. “To get the best overall value, we advise our customers to consider reliability, productivity, quality, speed, and ease of use as well.”

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