By Melissa Donovan
Part one of two
Many digital production print manufacturers rely on proprietary ink and toner developments. This first in a two part series discusses solutions for eletrophotographic (EP) production presses. While inkjet ink steadily gains ground in high-speed production printing, EP technology still holds a strong place in the market. Short runs at high qualities are ideal for print providers creating specialty pieces for high-profile customers. Additionally, there is less possibility for downtime, as printhead failures and errors are limited.
Many vendors offer toner-based devices, including Canon U.S.A., Inc., Kodak, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc., Nipson, Ricoh, Xeikon, and Xerox Corporation. Some are proprietary and manufactured by a company worldwide, such as Xerox. It manufactures the majority of the toners used in its printer products. Depending on the system, the toner is produced by pulverization or chemically via emulsion aggregation.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) offers HP ElectroInk, which is a liquid substance that combines the advantages of electronic printing with liquid ink qualities and found in HP Indigo Digital Presses. The manufacturing process involves the pigments that are ground into fine particles and mixed with a carrier solution.
"HP ElectroInk is unique to HP Indigo Digital Presses. It is applied in layers much thinner than possible with dry toners, which provides a true offset quality and allows printing on a wider range of substrates. Translucent in nature, HP ElectroInk allows uncoated substrates to maintain their unique surface characteristic after they are printed because the ink takes on the properties of the substrate," says Yishai Amir, GM of Americas Indigo and inkjet business, graphics solutions business, HP.
Konica Minolta Business Solution U.S.A., Incís bizhub PRESS C8000 features Simitri HD+ polymerized toner, which uses smaller more uniform particles for a huge impact on your prints, not on the environment. The company notes that Simitri toner requires no processes from hardening to pulverization, is produced using a simple production process. Additionally, uniformly shaped particles do not need to be inspected for size after production. Accordingly, the energy used for the production process can be substantially reduced.
Xeikon develops its proprietary dry toner in-house. The company relies on market-driven R&D to ensure its toner products are is continually improved, so you can meet ever-rising quality and productivity standards. Its new QA-toner comes in two types: the Industrial version (QA-I), and the Productivity version (QA-P). Built on Xeikonís proven Form Adapted (FA) technology, the QA-toner raises the bar of digital color print toners to new heights.
QA-I toner is developed specifically for the packaging and labeling market, and boasts major advances in light fastness, food safety and ecological benefits. It meets FDA guidelines for indirect food contact and direct contact with dry food substances that contain no surface oil or fat. All process colors and standard available spot colors are suitable for indirect food contact applications. Direct food contact is allowed for all process colors and certain standard available spot colors.
QA-P toner is ideal for the document printing and book printing markets. It offers benefits in the field of fusing, increased color gamut and speed. FA and QA-P toners are available in for process colors (CMYK) and off-the-shelf spot colors, including red, green, blue, orange and extra magenta. The company also offers clear toner, which is UV fluorescent and can be used for low level security applications and identification marks on transaction documents and direct mailings, invisible to the human eye but not to finishing equipment. Custom-made colors are available to meet specific brand colors or security requirements.
Xerox toner is distributed through the Xerox distribution network. Material is shipped from manufacturing plants to large central warehouses in North America and Europe and then distributed from there to either regional Xerox distribution locations, third party distributors, or direct to customers.
"Xerox toner is manufactured according to careful quality standards, ensuring its properties enable optimal system performanceóboth from an image quality and printer reliability standpoint. All of the toner manufacturing plants are certified to ISO-9001 standard. Environmental leadership is important to Xerox and our approach to manufacturing toner is carefully aligned with this corporate strategy," explains Jeff Blank, VP of product development, Xerox.
Toner usage is still prevalent, as measured by customer requests. "Customers tell us that they want the best printing economics in their offices or print shops. We are always working on evolving toner designs to achieve that goal and to improve reliability and uptime performance of our printers for our customers," continues Blank.
The next part of this series focuses on inkjet ink and vendors creating proprietary ink sets.