Epson will stop selling laser printers by 2026, but why?

In short: Epson recently announced a major change to its printing strategy, doubling down on inkjet technology and pledging to exit the laser printer market. The Japanese electronics company, announcing its new series of WorkForce Enterprise AM products for business, said it will stop global sales and distribution of laser printers by 2026.

Epson claims that inkjet technology can reduce energy consumption compared to laser printers due to the latter’s need for heat during the printing process. Epson also said its new inkjet printers help reduce resources used during manufacturing and shipping, and its extended yield ink cartridges reduce material usage, shipping and storage requirements.

In addition, according to Epson, inkjet printers use fewer moving parts and consumables over their lifetime compared to lasers. According to the company, this significantly reduces the need for maintenance and repair, resulting in less printer downtime, increased productivity and improved end-user satisfaction.

From clogged nozzles and planned obsolescence to high refill costs, inkjet printers have been a big hit with consumers for years. I remember a friend in high school who vowed to buy a new printer when his cartridge ran out of ink because it was cheaper than just buying a replacement cartridge.

In 2016, HP was criticized for releasing an update that disables third-party ink cartridges. Consumer response was swift, and HP ultimately apologized for not being more transparent and pulled out. As Ars Technica points out, the company still paying for the mistake — most recently for $1.35 million to compensate affected users in Europe.

It’s unclear how consumers and businesses will react to Epson’s decision to focus exclusively on inkjet printers. One should also wonder if the pandemic had something to do with a change in the company’s strategy.

As of August 2021 report According to IDC, the number of laser-printed pages in 2020 was down 16 percent year-over-year due to the impact of quarantines and the transition to remote work. In contrast, the number of pages printed by inkjet printers increased by four percent over the same period.

Image credit: Jay Jay In, Cottonbrough

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