Westinghouse Electric Crop. announced yesterday the formation of a joint venture with a Japanese company to manufacture and market an edge emitter light source which it claims will be a major improvement over laser systems currently used in computer printers.
Tokyo Electric Company Ltd. in Tokyo and the Commercial Systems Division of Westinghouse, based in Linthicum, have agreed to provide 50 percent shares of the joint venture's initial capital investment of $10 million.
The new company, Edge Emitter Technology Inc., will be located in Fremont, Calif., and will be headed by Tom Matty, a 20-year Westinghouse veteran who served as engineering manager for edge emitter technology.
Officials of Westinghouse, which is trying to lessen its dependence on defense contracts during times of reduced military spending, say the next generation edge emitter light source will offer significant advantages over current laser printers. In addition to being much smaller and lighter, the device offers higher speed, better resolution and gray-scale printing capability.
Westinghouse also claims that the new light source will have an operating life three to five times that of a traditional printer.
The system utilizes light emitted from the edge of a film of zinc sulfide that produces a series of pixels, or light dots, that generate a printed image.
Bryan Wiggins, a spokesman for Westinghouse, said that the edge emitter light source is about the size of a standard 12-inch ruler. It is designed to be installed in existing laser-type printers with only minor modifications as well as new units during construction.
The company estimated the cost at about $100.
Mr. Wiggins said the application of the new technology "goes way beyond laser printers. The technology itself may be applied to facsimile machines, copiers and digital imaging devices."
The system was developed by scientists at Westinghouse's Science and Technology Center in Pittsburgh.
The two companies have been working on the system for the past two years and demonstrated the technology at an international computer trade show last fall.
The first pre-production models are expected to be available this summer, and full-scale production is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of next year.
Richard A. Linder, president of the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group, which oversees the operations of the commercial division, said that the joint venture will not manufacture printers but instead will concentrate on producing and marketing the edge emitter devices to printer manufacturers worldwide.
The venture is another attempt by the Electronic Systems Group to diversify and lessen its dependence on Pentagon contracts.
On Monday, the group announced plans, in conjunction with four other companies, including American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and IBM Corp., to modernize the Soviet Union's commercial air traffic management system. It has also moved into the production of automatic mail-sorting machines and the home security business.