'Astonishing' new inkjet technology – more details revealed

Update Mar 21: Silverbrook has now officially announced the Memjet printing technology. See our latest article for a new high-quality video, and news on when products are expected to become available.

Radical new inkjet printing technology with a “price/performance ratio that is off the charts” is about to be unleashed on the printer industry, according to analysts who have seen prototypes. The revelation casts light on one of the printer industry's greatest mysteries, and one of the world's most secretive companies, Silverbrook Research.

A $200 desktop printer with a color printing speed of 60 A4 pages per minute is just one of the revolutionary new devices promised by Silverbrook, a company which holds more than 1400 patents, but has never released a product. Analysts from leading printer market research firm, Lyra Research Inc, showed this video of the prototype Memjet inkjet printer today, and say they have personally examined it and verified that it is real.

They believe the new technology will have a dramatic impact on the printing and imaging market. “This thing is gigantic, we've been in this business for 20 years and I've never seen something as mind boggling,” said Lyra president, Charles LeCompte.

Please refer to Texyt.com's earlier article on Silverbrook Research and its Memjet technology for further background information, and a look at some of Silverbrook's patents. See also our new article which looks at Memjet's print quality, intellectual property issues, and competition from HP's Edgeline.

Silverbrook Research was founded in 1994 by inventor Kia Silverbrook, former director of Canon's Australian R&D center. The Sydney-based company has 300 employees, 75 per cent with graduate degrees according to Lyra. Silverbrook Research has occupied itself almost solely with research into inkjet printing for thirteen years, without releasing any products.

Silverbrook will make a formal announcement of the new technology on March 21. The company does not intend to sell printers itself, Lyra staff said. Instead, Silverbrook will license the Memjet technology and distribute components, ink and consumables through subsidiaries.

As well as printing technology, Silverbrook is working on a wide range of applications for that technology, according to Lyra. These range from a prototype miniature color printer designed to be built into mobile phones and other mobile devices, to design concepts for huge commercial printing presses using the Memjet print heads to print newspapers, magazines, advertising, books.

Low printing cost claimed

Silverbrook estimates printing costs for the basic desktop printer at less than $0.02 per black and white page, and less than $0.06 for a color page with 20 percent coverage.

The majority of existing inkjet printers use ink cartridges with a capacity of about 10ml, and prices of $10 to $20. Silverbrook's A4 desktop printer's individual color ink cartridges hold 50ml of ink, and will sell for less than $20 each, the company forecasts.

"Silverbrook expect costs of ink and media supplies will be pushing new lows. They're not looking to subsidize their costs with high ink prices, instead they want more of a balance," says Steve Hoffenberg, Lyra's director of consumer imaging research

The cartridges will incorporate a 'quality assurance' chip which uses 160bit encryption. The main function of this appears to to prevent after market refills or cloning of its ink cartridges.

Other products at an advanced stage of development include a small photo printer for printing snapshots (see the reference design on the right). Again, this is claimed to be much faster than anything else on the market, with a speed of 2 seconds per page, compared to about one minute per page for existing home photo printers. This has a target retail price of $150, and a cost per print of $0.10 to $0.20.

The extremely high speed of Silverbrook's printers is partly a result of their 'pagewidth' format. Unlike a conventional inkjet, the printhead spans the full width of the page and does not move. The A4 desktop printer's printhead is 8 inches wide and contains 70,400 ink nozzles. This photograph shows a tiny section of the surface of the print head - each of the small white circles is a single ink nozzle.

The ink nozzles are spaced 1600 to the inch on the the printhead, which is made up of four-inch sections built using a semiconductor fabrication process. The tiny nozzles can fire out ink droplets smaller than one picoliter (one millionth of a millionth of a liter).

Lyra expects Silverbrook's inventions to overturn the printing industry. "We see numerous markets that are likely to be impacted by this technology," says Steve Hoffenberg. Among the many sectors that could be affected, he says, are home and office printing, retail photos, portable devices, and graphic arts.

"There are lots of different markets where this can fit in. In every market where we believe they have competitive hardware, the price performance ratio is off the charts compared to what else is out there," says Hoffenberg.

Lyra's researchers believe major changes are likely in the printer industry, which is currently dominated by just four companies: Canon, HP, Epson and Lexmark. "They hold most of the patents related to inkjet technology for products which are on the market," says Hoffenberg.

Printer industry cracked open

Silverbrook's new printing innovations, and its decision to license them to others, could level the playing field and allow many new companies into the closed printer market, Hoffenberg predicts. "In one fell swoop, a whole new set of competitors will have the ability to bring inkjet desktop printers and other products to market.."

"We don't know which companies Memjet and Silverbrook are working with, so we're purely speculating here, but we expect there will be a lot of interest on the part of computer makers; companies like Dell or Lenovo or even Apple. On the consumer electronics side you can imagine Sony, for example. In the photo industry, companies like Fuji might be a candidate. There are also the office equipment manufacturers, everyone from Xerox to Ricoh, etcetera. And we also have the possibility that the existing printer manufacturers may want to adopt some of the Memjet technology."

Bookmark Texyt and come back tomorrow for our upcoming exclusive article with comments on the prototype Memjet printers' print quality, from people who have seen them, and also a comparison with HP's new EdgeLine printing technology - and why analysts think Memjet could beat HP.

Want to know more now? Read our earlier article about Silverbrook and its Memjet technology. See also our new feature which looks at Memjet's print quality, intellectual property issues, and competition from HP's Edgeline.

Man that's crazy fast! It

Man that's crazy fast! It says a prototype, is this something I can buy?

HMMMMMM........Is this real?

HMMMMMM........Is this real?

Is Silverbrook a real company?

Eryck, the short answer is that we don't know, but we think it's real. I'll cut and paste a couple of my replies to people who made similar comments on our earlier article about Silverbrook and Memjet
You can't invest in the company, so if it's a pump n dump, its not a very productive one!
What I mean by that is that as far as we can find out, Silverbrook doesn't exist as a listed entity on any stockmarket.
My opinion is that companies always try to 'manage' the flow of information to their advantage. ,  It's possible that Silverbrook has reasons to finally go public with this now, instead of a year ago, or two years ago (This is just speculation, based on their older printer patents that show a product that looks already complete). All we can do is guess at what the reasons could be.
Not being listed on a stock market means there's no information about the financial side of the company that we could find. But I assure you it is a real company, no question about that, just take a look at all the patents (search google or click the links in the story).
We also determined that there's a lot of smart, highly-qualified people working there, who have been working there for years. [understimate of staff numbers deleted]. I could have listed the names we found, but that information is not really relevant to this sort of article.
We've spent hours looking through the patents, but we really don't have anything close to enough understanding of this technology to know if Silverbrook has got something exceptional or if it's just a runaway inventing machine that's never going to bring a real product to market. I guess they must be making a lot of money from royalties on their patents to keep operating for so many years.
We are swayed by the opinions of people at Lyra Research, who seem very upbeat about Silverbrook. They specialize in this industry. Their bread and butter is printer industry research and analysis. I think it's certain that if they make a really bad call, the damage to their reputation will hurt them badly.
The announcement from HyperLabel suggests that they are close to launching hardware which uses Silverbrook's tech


Please ship me 10 when they are ready!!!!!!!!!!

If Print Quality is as good as my Epson...

It sounds like a printer with this technology might have better print quality than my Epson Stylus Photo R1800, but I'll wait and see what the results are after printers hit the market, if they do. Speed without high-quality features isn't going to win me over. I assume that US companies will take care of the US letter-size paper issue.

Secret plans??

What's it printing in the video? Secret business plans?

I can't read it, there's a word on top of one page, that looks like 'Regents'

Secret of the Silverbrook video revealed

Alex, good thinking!! But we already checked that. It's just the standard 'filler' text that designers use when they want to check a layout. It starts Lorem ipsum sic dolor, or something like that. Legentis is just another word from that latin text.

We have a slightly clearer copy of the video - uploading it to Google Video reduced the quality a bit unfortunately.

Yes, it's real

The printer, and Silverbrook Research are absolutely real.
www.Lyra.com have a webcast that you can access for free if you register with an email address. Since they're the only people that have ever interviewed the inventor or the company about the product, they're the best source of information, at least until the keynote and 'go live' of the websites tomorrow (March 21).


Dont forget that you're not going to see a Silverbrook or Memjet branded printer. They'll be selling the components to other brands, not directly selling printers to the public - so it may be that the epson (to take Randy's view - i have no idea who they have an agreement with) that you buy in a year's time has memjet technology in it, but then so will several other brands.
The printer shown in the video is a working prototype, which is used as a suggestion for the companies that do licence with them - but these companies can do whatever they want.
I think that over the next five to 10 years we'll see Memjet technology pervade almost all aspects of printing, but in a rather quiet way, so if you're not looking for it, you won't know it's there. But the possibilities are amazing if they get the right partners.

This doesn't even look like

This doesn't even look like it's hooked up to anything. This could be a printer with a ramped up motor spitting out pre-printed pages.

Can you say vaporware?

At 1600 dpi and an 8x10

At 1600 dpi and an 8x10 photograph - just think of how many MB the PC has to process and send over USB??? to get this to print in ONE SECOND!!! I wonder if this is somewhat wishful thinking!

It's hooked up

Look at the shadow in the video, you can see a cord coming out of the back of the printer. They simply shot the video so it doesn't show it. (It shows only one cord yes I know...but the other cord could be on the other side or it could also be a Wireless USB prototype as well ;)

uhhh..... unless they have


unless they have invented instant-dry ink, those printed pages will SMEAR

Not necessarily.. With

Not necessarily..
With pigmented inks and the new types of layered media that are available on the market, you can easily print pages that don't smear.

Nothing about longevity, or

Nothing about longevity, or profiling or....

Just speed.

I wonder what happens when a nozzle clogs. Repalce the entire head?

Where Does The Document Paper Come From?

I noticed the video that depicts memjet documet printer printing 8 1/2 x 11 documents. The paper sheets appear to be magically coming out of the printer with no apparant feed! Where is the paper tray? Seems like smoke and mirrors to me!

Belive it,,,,, Or not..

I agree, If the paper tray
is below the delivery tray, then the paper would need to make a 180 degree bend
to exit. This would certainly leave a slight bend in the paper.  It is entirely
possible that they are using some trickery in that it’s feeding from directly
I do believe that any
estimate that the printer would cost under $200 is just not realistic. Home users
do not realy care if their printers can spit out 20ppm, I can see it more tuned
for the graphic artist businesses or Kinko type locations. With that in mind ,
they will need to be very solid machines.



good videos link

here's link to company site:



More than a year later... Where is the product???

Patent Issue Problem?

I haven't been keeping up with this technology but was the patent issue cleared for production? I believe HP and Epson were concerned about the printing technology. This would be great information I would like to pass on to our customers on our inkjet cartridges website. Thanks for the info and keep us posted.


I am really interested in buying a printer like this.