Epson’s EcoTank printers using Heat-Free Technology and refillable ink bottles have helped shift the printing industry towards a cost-effective, sustainable, and energy-efficient printing solution, says Siva Kumar – Senior General Manager, Inkjet Printers, Epson. Edited experts of the interview
What is the history of Epson India? What does Epson’s future hold?
Epson has been a world leader in digital printing and imaging solutions for 80 years. Epson India has made a remarkable progress since it was founded in 2000. Epson India’s turnover last year was Rs. 2,230 Crore. In the beginning, we were innovators who introduced several new products on the Indian market. These included Projectors Billing Printers Dot Matrix Printers. We created a market for certain products where none existed. In addition, we innovated to completely transform certain categories. Inkjet printers is a classic example. We introduced Inktank Printing to the United States (and the rest of the world) with this technology.
Over the years we have established ourselves in India as a leading provider for innovative, sustainable technology solutions that cater to the needs of individuals, companies, and institutions. In India, we have focused on innovation in technology, customer satisfaction and sustainability through a variety of cutting-edge products. Epson India has an enviable track record for quality and value. Epson Inkjet Printers are available today, as well as Inkjet All-in-Ones. Other products include 3LCD Projectors. Scanners. Large Format Printers. Robots. Textile Printers. Label Printers. Dot-Matrix Printers. Epson is the leader in all these categories. In all of these categories, Epson is either the No.1 or No.2 brand in India and growing fast. Brand No. 2 is growing quickly in India. The future is very exciting. We will continue our efforts in every aspect of product design and manufacturing to ensure that we combine sustainability with technology innovation.
We are deeply committed in finding sustainable solutions to enrich our communities and the planet. Cutting down emissions, going carbon-negative and underground-resource-free through compact, efficient and precision technologies – is Epson’s plan. It’s also pivotal to our Environment Vision 2050. Inkjet printing using energy-efficient Heat Free Technology and advanced robots to streamline operations in areas with high labour intensity. Digital printers can prevent ink and water waste in the fabric industry. A paper recycler, which turns waste paper into new paper with a virtually-dry process, is also being developed. Sustainability will drive our efforts.
How has the Indian printer industry developed? What role did technology play in this evolution of the printer industry?
Printing has changed dramatically in the past decade. Epson has led this change. This is a development that benefits not only home and office users, but also the environment. Traditionally, home printers used ink cartridges, and office printers used laser printers. The consumers were tired of paying exorbitant prices for ink cartridges, and therefore for each print. Ink cartridges were changed too often, which was another issue.
Epson made a decision in 2011 to change the dynamic of the market. EcoTank printers with an integrated ink system and refillable cartridges were launched. This allowed us to achieve a cost-effective per-page printing that no other printers could match. The High-yield Ink Bottles prevented users from having to buy cartridges frequently and run out of ink during printing. EcoTank printers are not only economical, but they also use less energy and are more environmentally friendly.
Epson’s Heat-Free Technology used in these EcoTank printers is designed to eliminate heat from the printing process, which reduces power consumption and extends the life of the printer. Cartridges in traditional printers generate a large amount of electronic waste. EcoTank Printers, however, use refillable containers of ink. This means less waste is generated. Inktank printers now account for over 75% in the market. Epson went up from third to first in this market within a short time. This position has been ours for many years. We currently hold 39.3% of the market (according to IDC’s CY2022) The first users to switch were home and commercial users.
EcoTank is now the printer of choice for office and business users that have traditionally used laser printers. The massive switch to EcoTank is good for the environment and consumers. These printers provide a cost effective, energy efficient, and sustainable solution for printing that can be used in a variety applications.
Laser printers dominated the industry for years. Inkjet Printers are now more popular than Laser Printers. Your company Epson has recently decided to stop the sale of Laser Printers worldwide. What was the reasoning behind this decision?
Epson’s commitment to developing sustainable technologies has grown over the years. In 2021, we announced a ¥100 billion investment over ten years towards developing sustainable technologies, and this commitment is reinforced by the decision to end the sale and distribution of laser printer hardware in the remaining Asian and European markets by 2026.
Epson discontinued the sale of Laser Printers in India, and many other countries over a ten-year period. We’ve long been committed to sustainable inkjet technology and have now decided to phase out sales of laser printer hardware worldwide. As a company, we’re committed to sustainable innovation and action, and our Micro-Piezo Inkjet technology simply uses less energy and fewer consumable parts.
While laser printers work by heating and fusing toner to a page, Epson’s Heat-Free inkjet technology consumes less electricity by using mechanical energy to fire ink onto the page. Heat-Free Printing is a revolutionary technique that consumes less electricity than laser printers. It saves both money and the planet. We believe that our revolutionary Heat Free Micro-Piezo Printing Technology will drive the future of print.
How are technology and innovation at the core of Epson’s R&D?
Epson was established in Japan, an amazing nation with a rich cultural heritage and outstanding natural beauty. Our commitment to safeguarding such gifts for future generation has never wavered. As our timely elimination chlorofluorocarbons demonstrates, we pay attention to social issues. Our philosophy is based on efficient, compact and precise innovation. It is true that bigger is not necessarily better. We are convinced that space-saving innovations, energy-saving technologies, and high precision can help protect the environment and enrich communities. Our philosophy of compact, precise, and efficient innovation helps us deliver more value to enrich lives and create a better environment.
What are the major markets in India for Epson? What are your plans to expand into Tier 1 and 2 cities in India?
We have used a uniform marketing approach in India to ensure consistency. The potential of our products is distributed evenly across the country. Each market and each consumer are important to us. To expand our reach, we are currently focusing on expanding our channel strategy primarily in the upcountry. We target small IT retailers, regardless of the monthly sales potential. This allows customers to quickly obtain information and products at nearby IT retail outlets to enable them to make quick purchases. We engage in channel activities actively to establish relationships between T1 and IT retailers. We strive to have a more uniform distribution of products across India. That is why we encourage the 1st tier distribution partners to reach remote locations and smaller retailers.