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 user 2008-04-25 at 3:32:43 pm Views: 27
  • #19404
    Ink in a solid state
    isn’t really considered a “Green” technology among those who wish to go
    paperless, but there have been some notable improvements over the
    years. And it remains an important staple for many businesses, no
    matter how much they try to cut down on the number of prints.Except
    that printers and their consumables – namely, ink and paper – can be
    expensive propositions for some SMBs. This is typically where factors
    like print yields and power consumption come into play. After all,
    maximizing efficiency at a savings in cost is attractive to businesses
    of any size.Despite the fact that Xerox is very much involved in the
    laser and inkjet printer markets, the company has increasingly been
    promoting its solid ink technology, touting it as more
    “environmentally-friendly” with a “reduced carbon footprint.”

    A stick of ink instead of a cartridge
    ink’s birth goes back to 1991 when a company called Tektronix developed
    it as an office printing technology. Xerox acquired the Tektronix
    Colour Printing and Imaging Division in 2000, and then added it as a
    proprietary line alongside its other lines of printing products.Unlike
    laser and inkjet, solid ink uses mechanics called “phase change”. What
    that means is the ink – which comes in a solid stick – is heated in a
    wax base and converted to a liquid ink. A micro piezo engine then
    electrically pushes the ink onto the page, where it instantly dries
    upon output.Once the ink is on the page, it is more like a layer on top
    that fuses with the actual page, rather than “sinking” into it like
    inkjet ink or laser toner could. Traditionally, this made it difficult
    or even impossible to write on it with a pen, though Xerox says it has
    improved on that. Areas of a page with a high concentration of ink,
    however, may still pose challenges in certain cases.”Solid ink
    technology is cartridge-free and produces 90 per cent less waste than
    the cartridges from a color laser printer,” says Eme Onuoha, director
    of federal government relations and sustainability for Xerox Canada.

    adds that 14 solid ink boxes meant for Xerox’s Phaser 8860 fit into the
    same space as one laserjet cartridge for HP’s LaserJet 4700, which he
    cites as the key reason why Xerox can ship so many more of them during
    transport.”By increasing the total number of colour pages the new ink
    sticks produce, and pricing each colour ink stick at one-third the
    price of black supplies, the Phaser 8860 provides high-quality colour
    prints for the same cost of an identical black and white Xerox
    8860print,” he says.The breakdown in numbers looks like this: a box of
    black ink costs $249 with a yield of 14,000 pages. Boxes of color ink
    sticks will cost $79 each, which also yield 14,000 pages. That’s on top
    of the base pricing for the Phaser 8860 colour printer ($2,899) and
    Phaser 8860MFP ($4,599) models Xerox makes.Solid ink printers do
    generate a “burning” smell at times because of the melting process that
    takes place during printing. However, they don’t produce ozone, like
    laser printers do.

    One target market
    Evan Hardie, a senior
    analyst who follows hardcopy peripherals for IDC Canada, knows solid
    ink technology well, and sees it as being more ideally suited for small
    businesses, mainly because the company’s laser products target larger
    businesses and enterprises.”If it’s a mid-sized to larger business,
    they’ll look for laser or traditional MFP because they’d want to go
    with something that’s bigger and more robust for cost-savings and
    volume,” Hardie says. “Small businesses that print less could go with
    inkjet printers, depending on what their needs are, though solid ink is
    really meant for them as well, especially if they print a lot in
    colour.”Despite the fact that inkjet and laser cartridges are recycled
    by manufacturers, Hardie suggests the overall footprint for solid ink
    could be smaller because there’s no real retail packaging and little
    residual waste, otherwise.But solid ink printers have also had a
    reputation for taking too long to warm up enough for the ink to
    liquefy. Not to mention that they needed to go through a special
    “cool-down” cycle in case the printer had to be moved.”There was some
    concern over the total cost of ownership for a solid ink printer
    product, but when you look at the same costs for an inkjet, you’ll find
    those to be fairly high as well,” he says.Hardie adds that solid ink
    can also print on a larger gamut of paper types, which has been known
    to be a problem with inkjet printers, in particular, because some
    printers won’t output properly onto third-party paper.The gel and wax
    composition of solid ink doesn’t have this issue because of the way it
    sticks itself onto the paper as an affixed layer, so any manufacturer’s
    paper could potentially be used.