Future Xerox printer uses new ink, heats paper

Xerox's new printer uses a new type of granular ink

Xerox on Monday offered a glimpse into the future of its printing products, announcing a high-speed inkjet printer that employs a new type of liquid-free ink to produce higher quality prints while reducing costs.

The new printer uses a granulated formulation of resin-based ink, which feels much like sand to the touch, said Wayne Buchar, a product engineer at Xerox. The printing process involves melting the ink and heating the paper, which helps capture and freeze ink to produce vivid images.

The combination of granular ink and heating of paper eliminates the need to dry paper after printing is complete, Buchar said. Many printers use water-based inks, which could suffer from bleed-through and dull color, and usually require more expensive and specially-treated papers to accelerate the drying process.

The printer is initially targeted at organizations printing documents such as marketing material or bank statements in high volumes, said Tracy Yelencsics, vice president of production segment and program marketing at Xerox. Installations of the printer will begin in the second half of this year, and Yelencsics declined to comment on whether the technologies in this printer would reach end-consumer products.

The new printer has the characteristics of traditional laser printers, which use toners, and solid-ink printers, which use blocks of solid ink, Buchar said. To operate the printers, users have to buy granulated ink, which is transferred to barrels in the printer. The printer then blows the ink granules from the barrels through pipes to melters, where the granules convert to liquid. The ink is then sent to printheads, which spray the ink on warm paper. The printer employs sensors that scans billions of droplets per second to ensure printing precision.

Xerox also melts ink in its solid-ink printers, but the print process uses aluminum drums to hold and melt the ink. This printer employs a more efficient process as it sprays the melted ink directly on warm paper, Buchar said.

The printer can print up to 2,180 two-sided pages per minute, Yelencsics said. It can also print on low-cost and plain paper.

The printer also help save costs by unifying multiple printing processes, Yelencsics said. For example, commercial printers may use separate color and black and white printers to print headers and personalized information on documents such as bank statements. The new printer's ability to print in all colors at fast rates on uncoated and normal paper could reduce the need for multiple printers, which could help reduce printing, warehousing and mailing costs, Yelencsics said.

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