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Epson and the Way of Sho Sho Sei

From the Printware Blog on Monday 10th April 2017

Epson have a rich heritage of creating leading products such as the miniature digital printer, the 3LCD Projector and more recently, Precisioncore printers that lead the way in printing quality and speed. This is no coincidence. For at the heart of Epson is a way of working that continually emphasises innovation.

The first Crystal Chronometer was developed by Epson

At the core of Epson’s management mantra is the practice of Sho Sho Sei, a principle that strives to develop products in the spirit of pure innovation. For Epson this translates as an ambition to develop products which are compact, energy saving and achieve their aims with a high degree of precision.

Epson's business activity is best known in Japan participate in the activity known as Monozukuri. In its literal translation this means the “process of making things” but it has a far deeper meaning in Japanese culture, encompassing the art, science and craft of creating and making physical objects.

According to those who know it best it centres around a philosophy that is devoted to producing excellent products and focussed on the ability to continuously improve and streamline all production processes. The principles of, for example, flow production lines and 5S (Sorting, simplifying, systematically cleaning, sustaining and standardising) have been borne of this focus to continuously and sustainably improve efficiency. There are many products that Epson have developed as a result of this.

The first miniature digital printer, developed by Epson

In fact this heritage goes back even before the name Epson was conceived. At least as far 1956 when the Seiko Marvel mechanical watch was invented and became the basis for Epson’s timepiece business. Then in 1963, when the first quartz-based high-accuracy chronometer was developed, followed closely by the first electronic timer system to ever be used at the Olympics.

Then in 1968 came the device that gave rise to the Epson name: the world’s first miniature digital printer, the EP-101. The name was formed using the initials for Electronic Printer, with –SON added to represent their commitment to follow that product with others that would be similarly innovative and successful.

Epson RIPS printers - another Epson product that is leading the way

Among the products that have followed over the years, many have made significant advances to existing technology. For example, in 1989 they developed the world’s first compact full-colour 3LCD projector. Then in 2013 their PreisionCore next generation printhead technology made significant advancements in the printing industry.

Further waves in the printing industry came with the launch of a range of printers that eliminated the need for cartridges using a Replaceable Ink Pack System (RIPS). These devices are capable of uninterrupted printing of up to 75,000 pages, with the potential to reduce consumable waste and CO2 footprint to less than 10% of business laser printers.

Looking to the future, it is clear that the twin principles of Sho Sho Sei and Monozukuri will continue to drive innovation in all of Epson’s products development. With investments of over $1.4 million a day in research and development, and some of the most advanced production facilities on the planet, it is surely not long before yet another world first is unveiled by the company.

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