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Exploring Solid Ink Technology

From the Printware Blog on Monday 1st August 2016 in Printing Technology, Resources

Solid ink is a unique printing method from Xerox. It takes solid blocks of a wax-like material and melts it down before it's applied to paper via a drum. The result is a vibrant and glossy finish on any paper type, fantastic for point of sale material or anything else where the first impression can make all the difference.

Xerox Solid Ink Printers

How it works

Looking inside, the ColorQube solid ink colour printer range reveals a surprisingly simple printing mechanism for such a powerful printer.

Preparing to Print:

As the printing process begins, the long-life maintenance roller quickly applies a microscopic layer of silicone oil to the heated drum for reliable ink release.

Advantages:

  • A simple, robust, reliable printing mechanism
  • Maintenance roller lasts up to 10,000 prints with the standard maintenance kit and 30,000 for the with the extended maintenance kit
  • No other complex consumables

Single Pass Imaging

Next, the full width printhead applies all colours at the same time on the rotating drum.

Advantages:

  • High-speed image transfer
  • Simultaneous application of all colours eliminates errors that can arise when separate cyan, magenta, yellow and black image layers are added.

Image Transfers

A sheet of paper is fed between the drum and a transfix roller, transferring the ink to the paper.

Advantages:

  • High-speed image transfer
  • A short, simple paper path for speed and high reliability
  • Transfer printing process yields great print quality on a wide variety of papers
  • Unlike laser printers, no fuser is required

Ink Bonding

As the ink of the drum transfers to the paper, it penetrates the paper's fibres, but without the spreading of liquid ink-jets or the toner scattering of laser. The ink cools and solidifies immediately, forming a strong, permanent bond to the paper. Total time for the print process: as little as 4 seconds.

Advantages:

  • Colourfast printing with no smearing or drying time
  • More consistent colour quality on a wider range of media than liquid ink-jet or colour laser

Two-Sided Printing

For automatic two-sided or duplex printing, the sheet of paper is not fully ejected into the exit tray but is fed back into the printer through the duplex paper path. The print process repeats with the second image on the drum transferred to the other side of the sheet of paper.

Advantages:

  • A simple, short, built-in duplex paper path means faster two-sided printing and fewer paper jams
  • No additional paper trays are required

Reloading

The ink loader draws ink from solid ink sticks instead of a self-contained toner cartridge. Ink can be replaced or added at any time without taking the printer offline.

Advantages:

  • Easy, on-the-fly ink stick reloading for continuous operation
  • The ink loader can be "topped-off" before long, high-coverage print jobs to avoid interruptions
  • More environmentally friendly; less waste packaging, less waste ink by-products

If this piques your interest in Xerox Solid Ink technology, you may be interested in one of our solid printers. Take a look at one today, such as the ColorQube 8580 or 8880DN.

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