For the big office: the Epson WorkForce Enterprise printer

A long, long time ago, in a building not too far away from where I am now, I worked in an office intimately involved in documents. Of course, we had a copier. Just outside the office, because it was too big to fit inside. It was from one of the most famous brands in photocopying and it had two interesting characteristics. The first was that, despite the size, it could copy just one page at a time (which had to be wrapped over its curved scanner window). The second was that it required something like weekly ministrations from the company service rep, fixing another of a never ending stream of failures.

The only thing it had in common – and the one thing that brought it to mind this last Thursday – with Epson’s new WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 – was the size. And the fact that they both copy documents.

In every other way the Epson unit is different. First, as a copier it has a flat bed. It supports up to A3 paper. It has four feed trays so the appropriate paper for the job at hand can be drawn from, and a duplex-capable document feeder so it’ll work fast.

Plus it’s a printer. Plus you can add an additional six ream paper feeder. Plus you can add a collation and stapler unit. Plus it’s fast. Plus – I’m pretty certain of this – the chances of it needing regular servicing visits from an Epson technician are just about zilch.

By fast, I mean of course, actually, really fast. Some one hundred pages per minute fast (there’s also a WF-C17590 coming which cuts this back to 75ppm). And that’s in colour. And there’s no time needed to warm up so you get started fast.

Now, the real point of interest to us here at is how it manages this, pushing each sheet of paper through in just six tenths of a second. Especially – and I haven’t mentioned this so far – since this is an inkjet unit. My goodness, does that mean the print head is whacking from side to side at an insane speed?

No, as it turns out. Epson has developed a fixed print head that’s 329mm wide, or wide enough to cover the entire width of a sheet of A3 paper, or the length of a sheet of A4. It stays in place and the paper just runs quickly underneath it. No sideways movement required. In that print head are 33,500 ink nozzles through which it can deliver some 900 million droplets of ink per second in three different droplet sizes.

There’s also blockage detection technology so that adjacent nozzles can pitch in to fill in any holes until the head is cleaned – automatically of course.

The unit uses Epson’s water resistant DURABrite Pro ink. There’s no need to be fiddling with ink cartridges constantly. The black ink is rated for 100,000 pages, while the cyan, magenta and yellow inks are rated for 50,000 pages. The print resolution is 600 by 1200dpi by default but can be set to 600 by 2400dpi.

It will be available – expected in the middle of the year – as a tall central standalone unit with the four feed trays underneath and the collator and bulk paper feeder as extras. The stapler/collator supports up to four thousand pages of output, neatly piled up into stapled (or not, as preferred) offset bundles of collated copies. The staples or good for thirty pages of regular copy paper.

There’s a nine inch colour touch display to control proceedings.

Epson says that the unit uses way less power than comparable laser printers – averaging 180 watts and peaking at 320 – and is more reliable thanks to much simpler print processes.