Meteor Inkjet Ltd, leading supplier of electronics, software, tools and services for industrial inkjet, has developed a new electronics platform to avoid reliance on key computer chips that are in worldwide short supply in 2022.
Meteor’s Print Controller Card (PCC) is used by hundreds of OEM customers around the world to synchronise image data sent by a PC to arrays of printheads including those by Epson, FUJIFILM Dimatix, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Ricoh, Seiko Instruments, Toshiba TEC, Xaar and Xerox. The PCC was reliant upon an electronic component which is in critically short supply this year, potentially delaying more than £4 million (British pounds) of printhead drive electronics.
Anticipating these long-term supply issues, Meteor embarked upon a fast-track project to rearchitect the PCC. In quick response to the diminishing availability of alternative components, Meteor identified a suitable replacement chip that was freely available in high volume, taking the unusual step to acquire more than a year’s supply of the new chip before even starting development. The risk of this decision paid off, and Meteor’s new PCC2 print controller is now shipping in production quantities.
“Meteor’s products are trusted as the most reliable components with which to build an industrial inkjet printer,” said Jonathan Wilson, Meteor’s vice president of business development. “Our customer base, having grown over the last decade to make Meteor the largest datapath supplier in the industry, had to wait for us to find a solution to what continues to be the worst chip supply shortage ever. I am delighted that their patience is now being rewarded, and we will quickly clear the order backlog that developed over the last two quarters.”
During the PCC2 development, Meteor worked closely with a handful of companies including Dantex Digital, a leading digital press manufacturer and long-time Meteor customer. Richard Hall, Dantex R&D director, comments, “We have been pleased to participate as a beta site for Meteor’s PCC2 development. Supply chain issues, and particularly shortages of electronic components, have taken their toll and we are happy to work with collaborative partners that demonstrate resilience and customer focus.”
Clive Ayling, Meteor’s managing director, comments, “It is a source of immense pride for everyone at Meteor that this enormous task has been achieved. In particular, praise is due to our engineering team in Cambridge who pivoted their attention to this one project which has resulted in a robust,
backward-compatible replacement product for our customers in record time.”
The advanced chipset used in the PCC2 brings with it increased speed as well as the potential for future functionality enhancements. For now, Meteor’s customers and partners are relieved to have once again an abundant supply of print controllers. The industrial inkjet industry, which is accustomed to year-on-year growth in breadth of application and penetration into markets previously dominated by conventional printing or manufacturing, now has an essential component back in production.