Who would have thought that dot matrix printers would still be manufactured and find a sizeable niche market in 2015, some 20 years after industry pundits started to predict their imminent demise? Even though inkjets and laser printers hold most of the printer market share today, there is still a healthy role for the humble single impact dot matrix (SIDM) device.
Epson, for example, offers new dot matrix printers with the same technology and quality of their predecessors, but with a more compact footprint and increased robustness. Devices such as these – which use robust SIDM technology and include new features such modern connectivity – still find a place in workplaces that need affordable, multipart printing.
“Thirty years ago nobody would have predicted that the SIDM printer would still exist but this is indeed the case,” ‎says Shaun Robinson, Epson product manager at Tarsus Distribution. “It’s still the cheapest way to print a page and is used in all applications where multipart paper is needed. Dot matrix printers are dependable, easy to maintain and cost-effective to run – all factors in their enduring popularity.”
Robinson says that the Epson LX-350 is the best-selling dot matrix printer in South Africa, shifting significant unit volumes each month at Tarsus Distribution, part of the Tarsus Technology Group. This unit is based on the old dot matrix technology, but also offers modern trimmings such as low power consumption and a choice of serial, parallel and USB high-speed interfaces for connectivity.
The new LX-350 has fast and durable Epson 9-Pin technology, prints up to 347 characters per second (10 cpi), and is ideal for front and back office applications needing continuous paper or multi-part stationery. The LX-350 has a mean time before failure of 10,000 power-on hours. A single ribbon can yield up to 4 million characters. It’s also small enough to fit tidily on a desk.
In addition to their cost-efficiency, dot matrix printers still have some other advantages over laser and inkjets. They use paper continuously, unlike other printers where paper needs to be frequently changed. And they tolerate the dirt and heat of industrial settings better than printers based on other technologies. Dot matrix printers can also print sheets for carbon copying – a requirement that remains surprisingly common.
Robinson says that with so many businesses still needing to print multipart invoices, waybills, picking slips, secure pay slips, and the like, dot matrix printers could survive for another 20 years yet. “Tarsus Distribution’s dealers say they still have many customers who need the cheap, heavy duty printing that dot matrix provides,” he adds. “These customers are in no hurry to change to laser or inkjet.”