MEMS printheads; MEMjet printers: reality check Print

MEMS printheads; MEMjet printers: reality check

Updated March 26, 2012. previously updated Feb, 21, 2012, first posted September 6, 2011

Not one single MEMS printhead machine was noticeable at either of the two largest printer expos in China last month (February 2012). If any were present, they were well hidden.

Three years ago MEMS printheads were labeled as the most incredible technology to reach wide-format printing. But the technology failed, indeed failed so badly that it cost Raster Printers and JETRIX two entire years of potential lost revenue since they had to start all over again with entirely new (non-MEMS heads).

MEMS heads were a significant factor in the final meltdown of L&P printer company. Its little remaining technology was bought at fire sale price by WP Digital (which in turn a year or so later downsized by leaving Spuhl and moved to parent company Polytype).

The utter failure of MEMS printheads were a major factor in the total shutdown of the textile printer division of Yuhan Kimberly (Kimberly Clark of Korea). MEMS printheads inability to hold up to actual use out in the real world also was a factor in the demise of the HP Scitex roll to roll printer shown with great bluff at SGIA several years ago. HP subsequently bought NUR because they used non-MEMS heads which actually functioned.

During 2011 MEMS heads reappeared, via MEMJET an offshoot of Silverbrook of Australia. So the question is whether any, or all, or other new issues will hit the reality check. It is as if everyone was deaf to what happened to the first MEMS projects of four different MILLION dollar companies.

Most industry specialists have skipped MEMJET totally since it was too many PR releases and not enough actual fact (like Foveon digital sensors several years back; like CrystalJet in the past decade and then the non-functional Kodak 5260). But since no one seems to have learned from past failures, FLAAR is issuing a commentary as a MEMS reality check. At this level of technology, is logically not a free report, but is reasonably priced and worthwhile reading (it is also entertaining, since how else can you describe a phantom technology).

So what about MEMS printheads? What about MemJet?

During 2012 we will also consider issuing new reports on MEMS printheads in general and on MemJet in particular. Companies which subscribe to our TRENDs level reports will receive updates. Subscription info is on our www.FLAAR-Reports.org

Of course the new hurdle for MemJet today is the endless PR releases about the lawsuit from their financial source. But the main issue is whether the patents are for a patent farm, or whether an actual product (which actually functions) is possible. Until I can see an R&D lab, see a real printer in a real printshop (OUTSIDE the R&D lab and outside a trade show booth), I am skeptical. The question is not whether the printer prints, the question is what happens when a nozzle is blocked or worn out.

The question is whether a machine would print a month, or a few weeks, non-stop in the temperature, dust, and humidity out in the real world.

During 2012 we will also consider issuing new reports on MEMS printheads in general and on MemJet in particular. Companies which subscribe to our TRENDs level reports will receive updates. Subscription info is on our www.FLAAR-Reports.org