HP has introduced what it calls its biggest new printing technology since the LaserJet line in 1984 - but it isn't for sale.

Edgeline technology, introduced at a recent launch event in Beijing, uses a set of stationary print heads and a patented ink technology, and aims to make inkjet as attractive as laserjet, for a lower cost of operation. It is a strategy HP hopes will help it gain a larger share of the market for multi-function printers (MFPs), adding to the dominance it already enjoys in standard office printers.

HP claims Edgeline can save companies up to 30 percent compared to a similar laser-based MFP. But customers won't be able to find out for themselves, because they will only be able to obtain Edgeline printers under service contracts with HP.

Customers will pay on a per-page basis, with different rates for professional colour, general office colour and black and white printing. HP hasn't yet disclosed pricing. The first two printers to use Edgeline will be the CM8060 and CM8050 colour MFPs.

HP played up the research effort behind Edgeline, which is part of a $1.4bn investment in printing research. The technology uses more patented technology than most companies have in their entire portfolios, said Gary Cutler, vice president and general manager for Edgeline technologies at HP's imaging and printing group, at the launch event.

The printer uses a drum covered with vacuum valves to feed paper to a row of page-wide stationary print-heads with a total of more than 10,000 nozzles. The patent-protected Vivera ink contains a bonding agent which means the ink dries almost instantly, HP said.

The printers can handle up to 71 pages per minute, HP said.

With Edgeline HP is targeting businesses with high-volume printing requirements, including retailers, industrial printers and office environments. Small businesses and consumers will probably not see much of Edgeline, although HP speculated the technology could be used by small-run commercial printing businesses.