Epson pulls the plug on laser printers into the name of the environment

“You’re not still using a laser printer, are you?” Shaq asked back in a 2020 Epson EcoTank commercial. The company has been bullish on inkjets for some time, and now they’re going all in.

Epson wants to stop making laser printers by 2026, and the company is citing environmental reasons as the main reason.

In a statement, Epson notes that “laser technology’s limited ability to make significant steps towards improved sustainability due to its requirement for heat during the print process, and therefore increased energy use.”

Studies from more than a decade ago confirmed as much, finding that inkjet printers use substantially less energy during the printing process. While a laser printer can draw hundreds of watts during a print, an inkjet generally draws less than 20 watts.

Epson also cites the reduced number of moving parts as a plus for inkjet printers. Fewer components that can break down also means fewer replacement parts to produce, which contributes to an even smaller carbon footprint over the life of a printer.

Epson AM-C Series

There’s also no longer a significant drop-off in performance when you opt for an inkjet over a laser printer. Epson recently announced new WorkForce Enterprise AM-Series inkjets that can churn out between 40 and 60 pages per minute. As you can see, the AM-Series printers share few similarities with the diminutive desktop units that were once basically given away to get consumers hooked on ink cartridges.

Ars Technica points out that Epson’s move could indeed result in the company producing printers that consume less power. But if the company really cared about the environment, Epson probably wouldn’t be in the habit of bricking otherwise functional printers because of ink pads that are allegedly oversaturated… because you know what’s good for the environment? Not forcing customers to buy new hardware when their old hardware should still be useable, perhaps with a little minor maintenance or repair work.

So is the company’s move away from laser printers really about what’s best for the environment? Or is about what’s best for Epson’s bottom line?

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a little more information about Epson’s decision to make some inkjet printers that were designed to stop working after their ink pads became oversaturated without offering users a chance to replace the ink pads or risk putting up with ink spills.

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