In Tabletop Color Label Printers, Core Technology Comes From Big OEMs, Lexmark Among Them

Bob Leahey
Dec 17, 2012

One unknown regarding Lexmark’s decision to exit the inkjet printer market is the impact it will have on Primera, a producer of small specialty printers, including tabletop color label printers. Primera uses Lexmark’s inkjet cartridges in both its LX Series label printers and its Bravo series CD/DVD printers. Thus when Lexmark stops producing these inkjet cartridges for its office printers, Primera will need to find a new technology partner.

Our expectation is that Primera will probably not feel any effect from the end of Lexmark’s inkjet business for a few years. Lexmark will not close its inkjet cartridge manufacturing plant in the Philippines until late 2015, long enough to support the last Lexmark inkjet printers, and also the printers of OEM partners such as Primera. Furthermore, although Lexmark is exiting the inkjet market, the company will forge ahead with laser product development. Lexmark’s plan for its laser business will be welcome news for Primera, which has also had good success with its CX1200 (2010), a roll fed color laser label printer based on a Lexmark engine.

Longer term, though, Primera will need another partner for its tabletop inkjet color label printers. In thermal inkjet, the type that Lexmark makes, the options are HP and Canon. Of the two, HP has aggressively pursued OEMs for its thermal inkjet technology, but Canon has not. HP thermal inkjet is inside inkjet printers by Primera’s two top competitors in tabletop color label printers, VIP Color and Quick Label Systems. Could HP someday also supply thermal inkjet to Primera? The answer is yes, because HP has a history of supplying thermal inkjet to multiple OEMs serving the same application, with examples not just in label printing but also in mail addressing and product coding.

A final, general observation about the tabletop color label printer field is that the various entrants are all small companies, most with just tens to low hundreds of employees. All of these companies depend on much bigger office printer manufacturers to provide the core technology, both inkjet and laser, inside their own label devices. The top suppliers of color tabletop label printers and their partners, all integrated manufacturers of office printers, are cited in the table that follows:

Company Product Technology Technology Supplier
Allen Datagraph Axxis Inkjet Epson
Allen Datagraph Centra HS Laser Okidata
Isys Apex 1290, Edge 850 Laser Okidata
Primera LX 400, LX 900 Inkjet Lexmark
Primera CX1200 Laser Lexmark
Quick Label Systems Zeo Inkjet Hewlett Packard
Quick Label Systems Vivo! Laser Okidata
VIP Color VP 485, VP 495 Inkjet Hewlett Packard
Xanté 330 GL, 502GS Laser Okidata

While tabletop color label printers are not a regular focus of InfoTrends’ JTO/CDLP consulting services, InfoTrends has done periodic consulting projects in this area and has good ability to investigate and forecast this market. Clients who are interested in the tabletop color label printer market or who have questions about it are welcome to contact Bob Leahey directly (bob_leahey@infotrends.com).

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