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Printers - Solid Ink Printers
Solid ink printers use solid ink sticks instead of the toner or liquid ink normally used in printers. Because the ink is instantly fused to the paper, the prints are bright with vivid colors without the need of specialty paper. You get the same results no matter what you print. Toner and liquid ink are soaked into the fibers of the paper so the outcome of the print depends on what paper is used.

The major advantage solid ink printers offer consumers is they produced less waste which is better for the environment. According to Xerox, solid ink produces about 90% less waste than a color laser printer.

How Solid Ink Printers Work
The maintenance kit prepares the drum before each print job. It clears off any ink left on the drum and then applies a think layer of silicone oil onto the drum.

The print head then begins spraying ink drops on to the rotating drum. All the colors are applied to the drum at the same time. Once the ink is exposed to the drum, it becomes a soft semi-solid.

To transfer the ink to paper, the printer sends it through the pre-heater and then the paper passes between the drum and the pressure roller. The ink cools and sets on contact. Because the ink returns to its solid form, there is no drying time. So each print that comes out of the printer is ready to use.

Buying Guide
Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Less Waste
Disadvantages
  • Slow warm-up time
  • Expensive
Price Range
  • $700-$3,000
Parts of an Solid Ink Printer & How they Work
  • Solid Ink Sticks

  • Non-toxic, resin-based blocks of "crayon" like ink sticks. Each ink stick can print about 1000 to 2300 pages (depending on printer model).

  • Print Head

  • Sprays the ink onto the drum. Similar to inkjet printers, the print head contains nozzles that can spray 30 million ink droplets per second.

  • Drum

  • The core of the solid ink printer. The image is sprayed onto the drum and then transferred to paper.

  • Ink Loader

  • Each ink stick (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) is designed and numbered to fit in their designated slots. Unlike inkjet and laser printers, you do not have to wait until the cartridge is empty. Each slot can hold up to 5 sticks.

  • Paper Pre-Heater

  • Heats the paper to make it accessible to the ink on the drum

  • Maintenance Kit

  • The maintenance kit is used to keep the right amount of oil on the drum so that the ink and paper are properly transferred.

  • Waste Tray

  • The maintenance kit removes the residue ink left on the drum to the waste tray. The waste tray should be cleaned out regularly.

  • Ink Melter

  • Melts the ink sticks on demand. Before the first print, it can take the printer 12-15 minutes to warm-up. The printer must constantly stay on (on stand-by) to cut that time to a few minutes.

  • Ink Reservoirs

  • Four reservoirs (for each color) hold the melted ink. The ink then flows to the print head, where it is sprayed onto the drum.

  • Printer Driver

  • A printer driver is software that acts as a translator so that the printer can understand data and instructions from your computer. The driver describes the text, image, etc. to be printed and translates it into the printer language.

  • Controller

  • The controller is essentially the "command station" of the printer. The control circuitry is responsible for decoding the information sent from the computer, via the printer driver, to the printer, as well as controlling the various parts of the printer

Summary
There are many advantages to using solid ink printers. With its low cost of operating and it not requiring the use of expensive specialty paper for good prints, it is a good choice for those who are willing to make the investment. The printer's simple design makes it a good choice if you are looking for a low maintenance printer. Another thing to consider when making a decision is your need for speed. It can take 12-15 minutes for the printer to heat up to its operating temperature. And as of right now, Xerox is the only manufacture that produces a line of Phaser printers that use solid ink technology.