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Meteor develops inkjet print controller to beat global chip shortages

Meteor Inkjet Ltd, a 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 short supply globally. Meteor engineers in Cambridge, UK identified a suitable replacement chip that was freely available in high volume.

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Meteor’s Print Controller Card (PCC) is used by hundreds of OEM customers around the world to synchronize image data sent by a PC to arrays of printheads, including those by Epson, Fujifilm Dimatix, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, 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 of printhead drive electronics.

Anticipating these long-term supply issues, UK-based 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.

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 "We will quickly clear the order  
  backlog": Jonathan Wilson
              Meteor Inkjet

“Meteor’s products are trusted as the most reliable components with which to build an industrial inkjet printer,” said Jonathan Wilson, Meteor’s VP 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.

“We have been pleased to participate as a beta site for Meteor’s PCC2 development,” said Richard Hall, Dantex R&D director. “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.”

Meteor’s managing director Clive Ayling added: “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 and the potential for future functionality enhancements, the company said. ”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.”

https://www.meteorinkjet.com