CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 960081 GOB
Mr. William D. Outman, II
Baker & McKenzie
815 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-4078
RE: 3M Scotchprint 2000 Printer
Dear Mr. Outman:
This is in response to a letter dated September 19, 1996, to Customs Service office in New York, concerning the tariff classification of the 3M Scotchprint 2000 Printer under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). The letter was referred to this office for a response. In preparing this ruling, we also considered the information provided with your letters of February 14, 1997 and July 25, 1997 on behalf of 3M. We regret the delay in responding.
The merchandise, labeled as the 3M Scotchprint 2000 Printer, is a large-format digital graphic printing press using an electrostatic process. It is designed to replace screen printing of large scale graphics, as well as generate new applications with its fast print time, quick service capability and higher image quality. The Scotchprint 2000 Printer has four stationary print heads which are 52” in width. As the media passes by the write heads, an electrical charge is deposited on the media wherever color for that particular write head is to be deposited. The media then passes by a toner roller applicator and the opposite charged toner/pigment particle is accepted by the charge. The remainder of the toner flows off and is recycled for reuse with the Scotchprint 2000 Printer. The media with the pigment attached by the opposite electrical charge then goes through the next three write heads and toner application stations. The Scotchprint 2000 Printer has drying fans between each of the four write stations and the media exits from the printer dry and can be rolled up, cut and used as a graphic, or subjected to further finishing steps, such as the addition of protective clears. The Scotchprint 2000 Printer has the ability to print at resolutions from 25-400 pixels per inch in a single pass, and will produce four-color images at speeds up to 2,600 square feet per hour.
The Scotchprint 2000 Printer will be sold to large volume graphics manufacturers such as large screen printers, photo color labs, service bureaus, etc. The users will be able to produce a broad range of graphics for different applications such as for trucks, buses, outdoor displays, backlit displays and signs, point-of-purchase murals, banners, etc. According to information provided, when a customer purchases the Scotchprint 2000 Printer, it is necessary to also purchase an interface and print controller from the 3M Company. The print controller is a Pentium-based computer which must be attached to the Sun UltraSPARC processor workstation, or any comparable machine. 3M also sells the necessary software, the 3M Graphicsmaker and 3M Metafile, which must be loaded onto the workstation.
Is the Scotchprint 2000 Printer classifiable as printing machinery (heading 8443) or as a unit of an automatic data processing machine (heading 8471) or as a drawing instrument (subheading 9017) under the HTSUS?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI’s may then be applied.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“EN’s”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the EN’s provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.
The HTSUS headings under consideration provide in pertinent part as follows:
8443 Printing machinery, including ink-jet printing machines, other than those of heading 8471; machines for uses ancillary to printing ...
8471 Automatic data processing machines and units thereof ...
9017 Drawing, marking-out or mathematical calculating instruments ...
Customs has previously determined that when items like the Scotchprint 2000 Printer, the print controller, and the workstation are imported together, they are classifiable as a functional unit in accordance with Legal Note 4 to Section XVI. See HQ 957981 and HQ 959651, both dated July 9, 1997, in which Customs determined that color digital printing systems consisting of a printing unit, digital system/work-stations and other components were classifiable as a functional unit, performing a specific function of printing machinery under heading 8443, HTSUS. If the Scotchprint 2000 Printer is imported with the print controller and workstation together, we believe that they would constitute a functional unit and be classified under heading 8443, HTSUS, as printing machinery.
You state that the Scotchprint 2000 Printer, if imported separately, is not a plotter and should not be classified under heading 9017, HTSUS, as other drawing instruments. If a good is classifiable under heading 9017, HTSUS, it would be precluded from classification within chapter 84, by application of Legal Note 1(m) to Section XVI, which provides that: “This section does not cover . . . [a]rticles of chapter 90.” According to the literature describing the Scotchprint 2000 Printer, it is designed to replace screen printing of large scale graphics, and to produce a broad range of graphics for different applications such as for trucks, buses, outdoor displays, backlit displays and signs, point-of-purchase murals, banners, etc. These applications are traditionally performed by the machines of heading 8443, HTSUS, and not by instruments of heading 9017, HTSUS. Therefore, we find that the Scotchprint 2000 Printer does not meet the terms of heading 9017, HTSUS.
You claim that the Scotchprint 2000 Printer is classifiable under heading 8471, as an ADP printer. Heading 8471, HTSUS, is governed by the terms of Legal Note 5 to Chapter 84, HTSUS, which provides, in relevant part:
(B) Automatic data processing machines may be in the form of systems consisting of a variable number of separate units. Subject to paragraph (E) below, a unit is to be regarded as being a part of a complete system if it meets all the following conditions:
(a) It is of a kind solely or principally used in an automatic data processing system;
(b) It is connectable to the central processing unit either directly or through one or more other units; and
(c) It is able to accept or deliver data in a form (codes or signals) which can be used by the system.
* * * * * * *
(D) Printers, keyboards, XY coordinate input devices and disk storage units which satisfy the conditions of paragraphs (B)(b) and (B)(c) above, are in all cases to be classified as units of heading 8471.
(E) Machines performing a specific function other than data processing and incorporating or working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine are to be classified in the headings appropriate to their respective functions or, failing that, in residual headings.
The instant printer, while it satisfies the conditions of paragraphs (B)(b) and (B)(c) to Note 5, is not classified in heading 8471 because heading 8443 more specifically describes its function as printing machinery working in conjunction with an automatic data processing machine. Based upon Note 5(E), we conclude that the 3M Scotchprint 2000 Printer is provided for in heading 8443, HTSUS, and is classified in subheading 8443.59.50, HTSUS, as: “Printing machinery, including ink-jet printing machines, other than those of heading 8471; machines for uses ancillary to printing ... : ... Other printing machinery: ... Other: ... Other.”
We have relied upon Note 5(E) in the past with respect to cases of this type. In HQ 959651 dated July 9, 1997, we found a Chromapress digital color printer to be classifiable under subheading 8443.59.50, HTSUS. In HQ 957981 dated July 9, 1997, we found a Xeikon DCP-1 digital color printer to be classifiable in subheading 8443.50.50, HTSUS. In both of those rulings we cited HQ 957491 dated July 31, 1996 wherein we stated: “Note 5(D) must be read in light of note 5(E) to chapter 84, HTSUS ... note 5(E) provides a separate prerequisite to the classification of any ADP machine and, therefore, ADP unit.” [Emphasis in original.]
In HSC 25 in March 2000 (Annex H/6 to Doc. NC0250E2), the Harmonized System Committee (“HSC”) of the World Customs Organization (“WCO”) confirmed the classification of the “Iris 3047” ink-jet printer in heading 8443 and subheading 8443.51, rather than in heading 8471, by application of GRI 1 (Notes 5(B), 5(D) and 5(E) to Chapter 84). In essence, the HSC determined that the goods of Note 5 (D) to Chapter 84 are units of automatic data processing and therefore are subject to Note 5 (E) of Chapter 84. See Note 5 (B) which contains the language “Subject to paragraph (E) below ...” and Note 5 (D) which pertains to “... satisfy[ing] the conditions of paragraphs (B)(b) and (B)(c) ...” Classification opinions of the HSC may provide assistance in the understanding of the international agreement, the Harmonized System, on which the HTSUS is based. The HSC decision is consistent with our decision here.
The 3M Scotchprint 200 Printer is provided for in heading 8443, HTSUS, and is classified in subheading 8443.59.50, HTSUS, as: “Printing machinery, including ink-jet printing machines, other than those of heading 8471; machines for uses ancillary to printing ... : ... Other printing machinery: ... Other: ... Other.”
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division