We have a long history of innovation and creativity with inkjet printers. This is some of the story…
Managing director Peter Martins has been working and experimenting with printers for over 15 years. It started when he acquired a very old laserjet printer – a monster of a machine – capable of printing all night, non stop and producing tons of black and white pages at almost no cost. He became an expert in this obsolete HP 2000 printer. He learned to love it and coax it back to life when some part of its fantastically complicated innards fell to pieces.
He wondered if we could move away from black on white printing and go to full colour printing. So he bought 10 desktop inkjet printers, put them on the network and tried sending each 500 pages to print. It did not work. The network jammed. Later he commissioned software to make it work and over the next 5 years we printed 5,000,000 full colour mailings.
During this time it became clear that if we used the original cartridge, the cost of ink was huge. After a lot of work and experimentation, we found that we could pipe ink into the printer via the cartridge and get good results.
We then created a series of mad looking inventions!
At one stage Peter got hold of about 40 HP CP 1700 A3 printers and arranged them on 3 decks about 10 metres long. The printers were plugged into ‘master’ ink lines. We called it The Print Farm. It worked well but was a little quirky.
People laughed at it, but when it started up it they were stunned – seeing it produce 1000s of pages in short order and at almost no cost. We printed about 5 million colour sides of paper from our print farm.
After a time, we dropped it and went to colour laser printing, expecting it to be cleaner and quicker, and needing less maintenance space. It was a disaster. It was only after much frustration and expense did we revisit inkjet printing as a way forward.
We were daft not to realise how great the print farm was. Inkjet printing uses about 80% less energy per page compered with laser printing.
Our adaptation of inkjet printers meant that there were virtually no waste by-products – just a few grams compared with 10s of kilograms for colour laser printers. The maintenance was simple and the reliability was amazing. Our system never stopped for ink, and if one printer failed, the rest carried on and took over the work of the one that had stopped.
On top of all these benefits, in the period that we been trying and failing to get colour lasers to work, inkjet printers had got faster, more sophisticated and cheaper to buy.
So the Blackbox Inkwell printer is the culmination of all this – our 10 years of experience, updated, distilled and applied to the new generation of inkjet printers.
The Blackbox is a UK designed and manufactured product. We have sold to schools across the UK, as well as many businesses.
The Blackbox printer is for schools and business which need high quality colour printing , but don’t need the particular qualities of colour laser printing. Laser printing is a little better quality, can produce more solid colours and is more water resistant, but for 99% of printing, modern inkjets meet quality requirements. It is fine for everyday use and the Blackbox has the benefit of the 80 to 90% saving on the printing budget.
Our plans for the future include a wider range of printers; multi function machines; wide format machines; multi-printer reprographics machines; a new, improved print farm(!) and a broader choice of base printer manufacturers.