What is Solid Ink? Apr 16, 2009 11:11 by John Sollars
What is Solid ink?, cartridges that have dried out or been frozen?. It is actually a technology developed some years ago by Tektronix and bought by Xerox who have invested heavily in new developments. We have had a Xerox 8400 Solid ink printer for years and swear by the technology.
A Xerox printer that utilizes solid ink technology does not rely on ink cartridges or toner cartridges. Instead, it uses no-mess, non-toxic, resin-based solid ink sticks, not unlike your child’s crayons. Each stick can last for up to a maximum of 2,300 printed pages, depending on your device. The kind of device will also determine the number of ink sticks that can be loaded into it.
So how does solid ink work? At a high level, the concept is that the solid ink is heated to produce the ink required for printing. The print drum then uses the ink to transfer image to paper. In the Xerox Phaser 8560, the solid ink is loaded into receptacles – this model can accommodate 4.
Then, when a print job is submitted for printing, a long-life maintenance roller (part of the Xerox’s long-life component initiative) applies a microscopic layer of silicone oil to the heated drum for reliable ink release. A full-width printhead then applies all colours at the same time on the rotating drum and a sheet of paper rapidly goes through between the drum and a transfix roller, which transfers ink to paper, creating a printed image. This also means that the printer is very fast – we routinely print at about 28PPM and it is the same speed whatever amount of coverage you have on the paper.
Now, as the ink is transferred to the paper, it penetrates the paper’s fibres where it cools and solidifies almost immediately. You will not see the spreading of liquid ink common to inkjet’s, or the scattering of toner common to laser printers. Since the ink solidifies right away it creates a strong, permanent bond to the paper. The result is a sharp, well-defined image – and this all happens in about 5 seconds. It also applies a gloss like finish which gives all of your printed documents a real cachet.
Since the solid ink is laid into a receptacle within the machine, ink can be replaced or added anytime – there’s no need for downtime to replace cartridges and there will be no printing interruptions. And since the ink is not encased in a cartridge, there are no wasted components — another way to help save the environment.