Now that the fall tradeshows are mostly behind us, we had the chance to catch up with Memjet General Manager Eric Owen. We wanted to learn more about recent DuraLink developments – and what we can expect ahead of drupa.
- There’s been much activity going on around DuraLink this year. Can you give us an update on what’s happening?
Eric Owen: Since its introduction, dozens of OEMs from a variety of print markets have engaged with DuraLink technology. The development process with this technology is a lengthy one, so we have many OEMs that are engaging in different steps in the process.
For example, some customers are just starting out with us, evaluating the technology and learning if it is right for them; customers who have formed teams and are actively collaborating with us to develop a press, and others who are just about the launch their products.
Right now, we’re up to 13 OEM partners that have submitted purchase orders, have purchased modules, and are or have built prototypes.
As these partners enter into the extended development process, they provide valuable insight into how DuraLink meets their needs and how we can make the technology even better.
- What are some of the insights these partners have shared?
Eric Owen: Nearly 60 percent of DuraLink’s OEM engagements are focused on packaging. To meet the needs of this large customer base, we knew we’d need to integrate new color and durability features into the DuraLink technology.
Last month, Memjet announced that a seven-color option is available for those DuraLink OEM partners who need it. By adding orange, green, and violet, OEMs can create package printing solutions that enable end-users to hit brand colors and produce more realistic images.
These are critical capabilities to capture the growing opportunities in food, fashion, and packaged goods markets.
- Can DuraLink serve the corrugated packaging market?
Eric Owen: Corrugated is a large segment of the packaging market, and yes, DuraLink is well placed to serve this market.
When printing on corrugated, it is often difficult to position the media consistently under the printhead, creating an irregular surface that tends to move during the printing process. When the media is being transported, it can often hit and damage the printhead.
Memjet is working with customers to implement designs that reduce the possibility of contact between the printhead and the substrate. If there is contact, Memjet’s proprietary wafer manufacturing processes deliver a very tough, strike and damage resistant nozzle plate.
Together, these features make DuraLink an excellent fit for the corrugated packaging market.
DuraLink has always had a long printhead life. Have you enhanced that feature as well?
Eric Owen: Previously, the DuraLink printhead had a 50-liter head life. With the release of DuraLink XL, the printhead life is now four times that number, lasting for an average of 200 liters.
With this longer printhead life, we’ve virtually eliminated unplanned downtime. End users can plan for printhead replacements to happen during routine maintenance or paper-roll changes.
Lengthier uptime translates into improved efficiency for end-users
Are these enhancements available to all customers or just new DuraLink customers?
Eric Owen: Memjet is an innovator. Because we are continually striving to make our products better, we also work to ensure that all customers have to our innovation.
The features are available to all DuraLink customers, regardless of where the customer is in the development process.
So whether a customer has already built their system, or has a system in development, they can still incorporate and leverage the new features of DuraLink.
What can we expect from DuraLink before we head to drupa?
Eric Owen: Before the end of the year, we expect about 20 partners in development with 10-15 having announced their solutions.
Of course, 2020 being a drupa year, many OEMs will wait and make their announcements closer to the event.
Let’s put it this way: drupa will undoubtedly be an exciting event for Memjet – and for the industry as a whole.