Epson is piloting a consumables free inkjet printer thatcomes pre-loaded with enough toner to produce 8,500 colour pages, a strategicmove that would effectively cut out third party toner cartridge manufacturersthat have encroached on sales.
The EC-01 device comes with a sealed unit attached and whenthe ink runs dry the Japanese vendor will pick up the box, replace it and sendit to be recycled. The initial trial is in schools with education specialist RM.
Nick Butler, managing director at Epson UK, said the product was beingquietly introduced “to market test the idea of a printer that containsconsumables for a reasonable amount of time”.
“We are trying to establish the principle of whether thisbusiness model will pay back the customer and ourselves,” he added. The vendorrefused to comment further.
Vendors frequently sell low-end hardware as a loss leader inthe expectation that they will be able to recoup profits on supplies but therise of the remanufacturer community has often scuppered these plans.
In recent years Epson has brought several court casesagainst third party suppliers alleging patent infringement, including MedeaInternational.
“This should lock out third party cartridge providersbecause it changes the nature of the business model,” said a source familiarwith the situation.
At £275 including VAT, the EC-01 is around half the price ofa standard inkjet with enough toner to produce the 8,500 colour pages.
On top of the competitive benefits to Epson, the model isbilled as environmentally friendly because fewer toner cartridges will go intolandfill.
It will also help schools get a clearer view of how muchthey print and prevent cartridges being stolen.