Passing of an Ink Icon: PiezoTone 2002 – 2012
PiezoTones are being discontinued effective March 2012. What ink remaining in inventory will be the last of its kind. The inks affected are PiezoTone WN, PiezoTone CS, PiezoTone, ST, Museum Black, Portfolio Black. We notified all current PiezoTone customers (who have purchased in the last two years) that PiezoTone is now discontinued. There is only a small amount of ink remaining and we believe PiezoTone customers may be able to sustain this ink habit for a year or two, but we believe that they should migrate to Piezography K7 which is an active and still developing ink system.
PiezoTone ink dominated the monochromatic ink market from 2002 until 2005 with tens of thousands of customers at a time when Epson had still not released any black & white solutions. PiezoTone was originally introduced as a second generation ink designed specifically for use in foam filled cartridges and in CISS systems. It was also the first 100% pigment monochromatic ink set we introduced. The printers for which this ink was initially designed included the Epson 1160 and 1520 (4 ink printers) as well as the Epson 1200, 1270 and 1280 (six ink printers.)
It had many competitors including Lyson, MediaStreet, MIS, and Sundance. At the time, no other ink could produce such a smooth and velvety appearance; zero-metamerism; nor compete with its fade resistance. It was followed by the introduction of PiezographyBW ICC, my second generation PiezographyBW System.
PiezographyBW ICC with PiezoTone inks was a fully Soft-Proofed system that hijacked Epson’s own RGB printer driver as the monochromatic ink engine when used with our newly invented PiezographyBW ICC printer profiles. A fully linearized print resulting in a perfect 1.80 Gamma. It has no peers, yet has been exceeded again with the introduction of Piezography K6 and K7.
PiezoTone inks are true quadblack inks available in four shades (hence the “quad”.) However, with PiezographyBW ICC we doubled up the light shade and medium shade installing them in the light magenta and light cyan position of Epson six ink printers. The PiezographyBW ICC caused the ink set to behave as six shades. In addition to the Epson 1200, 1270 and 1280 we introduced PiezographyBW ICC on the Epson 7000/9000 and 7500/9500 printers. Later we adapted it as a dual ink set on the seven ink Epson 4000, 7600 and 9600 printers. Many of our customers brought this ink forward into Epson 7800 and 9800 printers. A few die-hard PiezoTone addicts even brought it forward into X880 series printers.
The Piezography Profiler could be used to custom profile a customer’s printer and this version was called iQuads. Decidedly ahead of its time, very few photographers and companies were selling ICC solutions in 2005 that actually worked. PiezographyBW and iQuads not only worked, they worked beautifully. It was a quantum leap in quality from our original release of the PiezographyBW plugin and PiezographyBW Pro and were offered at a fraction of the cost.
PiezographyBW ICC was discontinued in 2007 after we released Piezography K7. Today only a few customers of PiezoTone inks remain active and they are totally dedicated to this ink. I’m one of its biggest fans. I use PiezoTone ink in my Roland 12 ink printer. The four shades give me a lot of freedom to turn a 12 ink printer into something quite complicated. But, this ink also had a quality that is not duplicated in K7.
While there is a PiezoTone Warm Neutral and a Piezography Warm Neutral K7 – the two inks are quite different. K7 is encapsulated and has significantly better head performance. PiezoTone is livelier in color tone. It is in some way for me similar to the passing of the IRIS 3047 printer. The grinding of PiezoTone pigment is to a tolerance and technique that can not be duplicated. The original grinder of this pigment notified us last week that it will no longer be able to provide this level of production for us any longer. This ink was the first ink with which we collaborated with our amazing chemist. It is in some way, hard to imagine that we were able to preserve it for so long after creating new generations of ink. But, we had such devoted followers of this ink.