Memjet CEO Lauer Talks Strategy as Debut Approaches for “Disruptive” Inkjet Technology
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company has obtained about 3,000 U.S. patents, with another 2,000 patents pending. Memjet’s core technology was developed at Silverbrook Research, founded in Sidney, Australia, by Kia Silverbrook, a onetime Canon R&D director in Australia, who has spent decades expanding Memjet’s patent portfolio.
So how does the Memjet printer work differently than the classic inkjet? Unlike an inkjet printer head that moves sideways across the page, Memjet’s print head is fixed. It extends all the way across the page—it’s 8.66 inches wide—so it lays down an entire line of ink as the paper advances. Each Memjet printhead consists of 70,000 inkjet nozzles (in contrast to the 1,500 to 2,000 nozzles in a conventional inkjet print head) and prints in five colors at 1,600 by 1,600 dots per inch (DPI), Lauer says.
Each Memjet nozzle is less than 100 microns wide (roughly the width of human hair) and uses micro-electro-mechanical technology (the MEM in Memjet) to spew 1.2-picoliter droplets of ink at a rate of 900 million per second, Lauer says. The nozzles are made out of silicon in a semiconductor factory and operated by Memjet’s proprietary, “systems on a chip” print engine controller electronics, firmware, and software.
Funding for Memjet’s extensive intellectual property protections, global workforce, and other operations has come primarily from one investor, whom Lauer declined to identify. “Our main investor came in about five or six years ago,” he says. “It’s an individual with a lot of money, someone whose name I’m sure you’d recognize, who came in as a private equity investor,” which has been reported to be Argonaut Private Equity of Tulsa, OK.
Apart from operating far more efficiently than commercial batch printers, Lauer says the genius of Memjet’s technology lies in its capability to customize labels and other print jobs “so maybe a Heinz ketchup label could have regional customization” for the San Diego Chargers or Padres. As Lauer puts it, “We’re ready to go, and fairly excited about it.”
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