First notes on the Xerox 8142 and Xerox 8160 wide format inkjet printers.
At DRUPA 2004 tradeshow we were told that “the XES (Xerox Engineering Systems) ColorGrafX X3 printer did not make it …”. We assume this was to have been a mild-solvent ink printer to replace the oil-based ColorgrafX X2 printer. So instead Xerox looked around for a partner. And, like Oce and Ilford in previous years, Xerox chose an Encad, in this case the 1000i (which neither Oce nor Ilford yet offer; Ilford barely exists any more, and Oce seems to have dropped Encad printers and went with Seiko until HP got them instead; so Oce will have no normal wide-format printer for 2006 unless they add something new and different).
Considering that Canon is partnering with Kodak with selling the Kodak Nexpress, it would have been a better idea for Xerox to sell Canon imagePROGRAF printers, but the competition of Xerox copiers vs Canon copiers, and Kodak digital cameras vs Canon digital cameras made the politics a challenge.
Epson would also have been a good partner; after all, Fuji and Agfa already rebrand Epson printers. We don’t know what the hang-up was that kept a Xerox-Epson partnership from developing. Maybe Epson printers were to slow.
An alliance between Xerox and HP would have faced a comparable political situation in laser printers: Xerox laser vs HP lasers. The HP Indigo digital press competes with the Xerox iGen3, and so on. And now HP is selling copiers that compete with Xerox in those markets too.
Xerox is in a comparable situation as Agfa, Fuji, and Kodak: neither owns hardly any patents on wide-format inkjet printhead technology. They may have noticed how Oce has not been able to develop a successful inkjet printer on their own. Indeed Kodak (before it bought Encad) failed with their Kodak 6250.
FLAAR, however, understands that if more printer manufacturers could independently develop their own printer platforms, this would benefit everyone: the end-user would have more choices; and technology would advance due to competition. Thus we hope that Xerox can successfully develop a “ColorgrafX X3” or other comparable printer. Since Xerox sells primarily to Fortune 500 kind of companies, it would seem that a printer for corporate work groups would have made more sense. But other than Canon or HP printers, no such wonder-inkjet printer for in-house corporate use yet exists.
Oce offers only the older model Encad NovaJet 850 (as the Oce CS5090). Oce’s website does not show any Oce version of the Encad 1000i. Ilford offered primarily the older versions of Encad NovaJet, such as the 850. But Ilford’s film division went bankrupt. Although Ilford’s inkjet media division is doing okay, they do not offer any printers at US trade shows. So it appears that, for the moment, Xerox is the only company other than Kodak that is rebranding the Encad 1000i.
Xerox states they do not use Kodak ink, or at least not the same ink that Encad uses. However it is unlikely that Xerox makes all its own media. Nor of course does Canon, Epson, or HP either; they make printers; other companies make ink; other companies make media. The printer manufacturers then put all these components together. Not even Kodak makes their own media for their own Encad: most Kodak inkjet media comes from China nowadays.
Since the Xerox 8142 and Xerox 8160 printers are new (first shown in October 2004, at SGIA trade show), it will take a while to sort all this out.
But one thing is fixed, and that is the mechanical performance: this is identical to the Kodak Encad NovaJet 1000i. So our site-visit case-study of the Encad 1000i and also our First Look at the Encad 1000i are both pertinent to the Xerox 8160 and Xerox 8142. If you are even thinking of a Xerox or Encad printer, the FLAAR Report is a “must have.”
Common Sense caution on printers for photographs.
If you intend to print photographs with either the Encad 1000i or the Xerox 8142 or Xerox 8160, you need to read the FLAAR comments on this. We are a university institute with a staff dedicated to professional photography: two of us teach photography. We have experience with photo exhibits and what printers are acceptable for reproducing a good photograph. Our staff attends Photokina trade show in Germany every time it is held (every two years in Cologne), the Mecca for professional photographers worldwide. We attend PhotoPlus and PMA trade shows as well, plus we print photographs almost every day in our own digital imaging lab.
There is a huge difference between a printer that can do signage fast, and a printer that can achieve photo quality. No printer can do both simultaneously. I repeat, no printer, neither HP nor Epson, can simultaneously produce speed, and quality. You get quality only when you slow the printer down to a crawl. And when you reach productivity speed, the quality deteriorates rapidly (you get banding lines across the print). This statement holds true for Roland, Canon, ColorSpan and every nice printer out there (hopefully we know, we have 23 printers and have years of experience looking at other printers as well).
The Xerox 8142 and Xerox 8160 are not as slow as other printers, but that implies speed for basic signage, namely images that will be viewed at 5 to 10 feet away. For photographs you need an HP 130 or Epson 9800.
And surely you are aware that hardly any print shop would attempt to run any printer at its claimed speed: output has too many defects when run at high speeds. You have to slow the printer down at least one mode in order to remove the banding artifacts and other deficiencies (this is not the fault of Encad or Xerox; the same fast-speed defect occurs with almost every printer of all brand names).
But don’t be discouraged: there is hope. Many people who have Encad printers learn how to handle them. So read the FLAAR site-visit case study. We inspected a print shop that had four of them: yes four. They bought two, but got two more in the deal. Find out why and how in the FLAAR report.
RIP, Raster Image Processor Software.
Relative to the Xerox RIP, be sure to get your hands on the entire FLAAR Series on RIPs. This informative material will alert you to appropriate prices for a lite RIP (a RIP that can run only a single printer, and is unable to generate ICC profiles, ought to be considered a lite version).
Demise of Encad
During February and March 2006 Encad seems to have been phased out. It appears that there are no more Encad NovaJet printers being manufactured. If so, this will affect the future availability of Encad/Kodak printers via Xerox. We will learn more at ISA 2006 and update these pages at that time.
At ISA I asked one person with an XES shirt about the status of Encad printers. He said Encad was in full form, nothing had changed, just that Kodak was now in charge. So either no one has notified the sales reps that the Encad factory is no longer producing printers, or I need a fresh source of information. The fact he was wearing an XES shirt, a company that went belly up several years ago, without notifying anyone, and leaving thousands of printer owners with close to no tech support and causing the resale value of their printers to plummet, does not give me much confidence in his wishful thinking.
Until someone can fly me out to a fully functioning Encad factory, and show me Kodak 1200i printers still coming off the assembly line, or show me Xerox 8142 and Xerox 8160 printers still coming off the assembly line, I will conclude that my sources of information that Encad has effectively closed their doors holds true. If we learn that Encad, Xerox or Kodak are still manufacturing NovaJet printers (irrespective under an Encad or Kodak name) we will update and revise the conclusions of this page). But as far as we can tell, they are only selling off what is left in their warehouses.
The fact that a large Kodak booth at PMA 2006 trade show did not show one single solitary Encad printer, sort of reveals their status to the public.
In the meantime Canon is eagerly producing CAD printers and a new Canon imagePROGRAF iPF9000 printer, hoping to gobble up what little market share Encad and Kodak had in their final months.
Most recently updated April 10, 2006.