Traditional photographic printing, which requires chemicals, trays, a dark room, and a lot of trial and error, comes a step closer to obsolescence today with the announcement by Lexmark International, Inc., that it plans to introduce six-color printing--a capability to enable its low-cost inkjet printers to produce digitized images at qualities amazingly similar to professionally developed photos. The process will be available for home or office use with Lexmark printers currently priced in the U.S. at less than $250.*
Lexmark will launch its unique six-color process by the end of this year with details to be disclosed later this fall. Unlike photo printing solutions recently announced by other manufacturers, Lexmark's solution provides state-of-the-art six-color printing on a lower-priced platform. Some photo printing solutions require replacement of an existing color cartridge with a different color cartridge that does not provide six-color printing. Other brands that do provide a six-color solution require purchase of a more expensive printer to attain the capability. Lexmark's dual-cartridge model, on the other hand, offers the capability to print with the current tri-color cartridge installed along with an additional unique tri-color cartridge for true six-color capability--all on a printer selling for less than $250.
This capability builds on Lexmark's currently available 600 dots per inch color technology, providing precise placement of dots in color as well as monochrome. Lexmark's dual-cartridge Color Jetprinter 2050, which was announced July 29 and prints up to 600 x 600 dpi, is already configured to support this capability once available. Lexmark also plans to make a six-color solution available for future dual-headed color inkjet printers.
Leverages Polaroid Alliance to Create Digital Color Printing
Solutions Lexmark's six-color printing announcement comes on the heels of the creation of an alliance formed earlier this month with Polaroid Corporation to pursue joint marketing and development of high-definition color image printers and consumables. "We anticipate that our companies will work closely together to provide complementary products to take full advantage of Lexmark's six-color printing solution," says Paul Rooke, Lexmark's vice president for U.S. sales and worldwide marketing, Personal Printer Division.
"We at Polaroid believe that six-color printing is a key ingredient to making realistic photographic printing available to consumers on low-cost inkjet printers," says Margaret Wolf, Polaroid's divisional vice president, New Business Marketing. "With our alliance now in place, we look forward to working with Lexmark to develop products that will work in tandem with its six-color process."
Bringing Commercial Standards to the Desktop
"Lexmark's color inkjet printers have been praised in reviews for their photo image reproduction with a four-color printing process," Rooke adds. "With six-color technology, home and business users will have a capability once available only to professional graphic designers using expensive specialty printers. Six-color capable presses are common in the commercial printing industry, and Lexmark is bringing the process to the desktop at a price everyone can afford."
Six-color printing technology with Lexmark's printers was first demonstrated at the Seybold '96 trade show in Boston earlier this year with a Lexmark printer and with software simulating Pantone's Hexachrome color solution. Lexmark's first venture into six-color printing for widespread home and office use will be based on an exclusive formula of cyan, magenta and black inks that, when printing in tandem with the company's standard three-color cartridge, results in impressive photos with reduced grain and improved color depth, particularly important to delicate colors such as flesh tones.
Rooke adds: "With widely available image manipulation software now on the market, even the casual photographer with the tools such as digital cameras and scanners to digitize photos into a PC will be able to print dazzling photos from a Lexmark printer in a six-color configuration, then easily snap the black cartridge back in place for the conventional four-color printing used in many other applications."
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