More than one million solid ink machines are in use today, serving thousands of customers who produce more than six billion pages each year. It’s a technology originally created by Tektronix in 1986 and used in computer printers and multifunction devices.
After Xerox acquired the Tektronix Color Printing and Imaging Division in 2000, solid ink became part of the Xerox line of office printing and imaging products, with early offerings focused on the graphic arts industry. The company worked on lowering running costs while improving performance and quality.
“As the technology improved and costs were reduced, the focus shifted to office printing environments where quality and cost efficiency are important,” says Craig Green, Xerox National Channel Manager. ”
Xerox has continued to evolve its solid ink technology, and has been highly successful in the workgroup printing segment. “That is because from its inception, solid ink technology was designed as a page-printing process and has been implemented in products clearly intended for workgroups and office users,” Green adds. “Solid ink printers use page-wide print heads to produce excellent colour print quality at print speeds comparable to or faster than laser-based products.”
Solid ink technology uses solid ink sticks instead of the fluid ink or toner powder usually used in printers. After the ink stick is loaded into the printing device, it is melted and produces images on paper in a process similar to offset printing. It is known to produce more vibrant colours than other methods and can print on a wide range of media. Solid ink printers are easy to use with recycled paper and are able to print on many different types and thicknesses of media and are much less sensitive to changes in media type than are colour laser printers.
“The sticks are non-toxic and safe to handle” says Green. “The president of Tektronix actually ate part of a stick of solid ink, demonstrating how safe they are to handle. The technology is also more environmentally friendly due to reduced waste output.”
Compared with colour laser printing technology, solid ink generates up to 90% less printing waste because there are no cartridges to dispose of and less packaging to add to landfills.
The cartridge-free design and minimal packaging also result in:
• less to manufacture
• less storage space
• better transport efficiency
Cartridge-free solid ink lowers running costs by reducing the number of parts customers must replace and as a result offers colour pages at a lower cost. According to a white paper by research company InfoTrends, “The solid ink writing system is much less complicated compared to Xerography with fewer moving components and fewer replaceable supplies, which translates to the potential for lower overall operating costs.”
“If you print lots of colour pages, solid ink printers and multifunction printers can help you realize a significant savings on 70% of the colour pages you print every day. You get exceptional value, with a total cost of ownership that’s hard to beat,” Green says.
Press release courtesy of Bytes.