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 user 2007-08-29 at 12:34:00 pm Views: 75
  • #18654

    New Xerox toner plant sparkles
    (August  2007) — Xerox Corp.’s newest toner plant looks somewhat like a brewery, with room after room of huge metal tanks and six miles of stainless steel piping.But conceptually it works more like a farm, “growing” each tiny speck of toner — it takes roughly 50 such toner particles to print a period on a page — from its component ingredients as they adhere to each other.

    Building 216 on Mitcheldean Drive is the first new building at Xerox’s 1,100-acre Webster campus in a generation.And the $20 million plant’s first output of emulsion aggregate toner is now being tested to make sure it is ready for the marketplace.”The first batch, everything looks good,” said plant manager Michael J. Duggan over the loud background whine of the machinery. Full production is supposed to start next month.Toner — that sooty powder in photocopiers and laser printers familiar to anyone who ever spilled it on himself when changing the cartridge — traditionally is made by grinding pellets made of a combination of latex, pigments, waxes and additives into a fine dust.Emulsion aggregate or “EA” toner is made of much the same ingredients. But the chemical process to manufacture EA toner is more energy efficient, according to Xerox, and the uniform particle sizes means printers use 40 to 50 percent less toner during printing.

    Toner is not a huge expense for commercial printers, typically amounting to less than 1 percent of sales, said Timothy Freeman, president of the Erie County-based Printing Industries Alliance, a trade group for New York, northern New Jersey and northwestern Pennsylvania.But, he added, “If you’re talking about a $10 million printer, you’re talking $60,000.”About a dozen models of Xerox machines are engineered for EA toner, including the Nuvera line and some of the WorkCentre Pro products.While making EA toner is more energy efficient, the process is a heavy user of water.According to Xerox, the plant will use roughly 500,000 gallons a week.The water will be treated at Xerox before it goes into the sewer, Duggan said. The main waste product of the process — a sludge-like gunk — is disposed at an industrial landfill, he said.To start, the heavily automated plant is employing 40 people and will run in three shifts five days a week, Duggan said.Much of its cyan, magenta, yellow and black toner is poured into pup-tent-sized bags and hauled across the street to Building 224, where it is put into cartridges or packaged.The EA toner plant is the only one of its kind in the United States, Xerox spokesman William McKee said. Xerox has a smaller EA toner plant in Mississauga, Ontario.