Why use Solid Ink

The Latest Technology that is changing color printing.

Many more of us are printing in color so it is important to understand the differences in color printing technology. There are three primary types of technology in use:

The following discussion details the plus and minus of each type of printing.

Inkjet Printing

Most of us are familiar with inkjet printers. Inkjet printers use multiple color ink tanks to place very fine droplets of ink in a precise manner to create a color document. Even today’s inexpensive color inkjets that sell for less than $100 can produce lab quality color photos. It is hard to beat an inkjet printer for personal use. As long as your print volume does not require multiple hundreds of color prints each month, you can probably get by with a quality inkjet printer.

Downsides to inkjet printing

So what is the downside to using inkjet? First and foremost is cost per page. If you have purchased inkjet cartridges from your local office supply store you have experienced the high cost of these ink tanks. Why is it so expensive? This is the primary source of profit for the printer manufactures. If you look at earnings reports of the major printer companies, you will see that 100% of their profit is derived from the sale of consumables. Everything else they do is subsidized by profits from ink. The reason the inkjet printers are inexpensive is so that the manufactures can subsidize the cost of the hardware with profits derived from the sell of ink.

Secondly, inkjet printers are slow. Speed does continue to improve, for the most part these printers are slow. Most of them do have higher speed settings but sacrifice the quality of print.

What do you do with the empty ink tanks? Refill them? Too much hassle and to messy. Most just get thrown away. Not good for the environment.

Inkjet printers are not designed to stand up to high volume printing. Most of these printers have a duty cycle of around 1,000 prints per month. The duty cycle is a measure of when you can expect to have some type of repair to the printer. In this case it would likely be the replacement of a print head. In some cases you may find it easier to replace the printer. For comparison, the duty cycle of some of the higher end laser and solid ink printers is 65,000 or more prints per month.

This brings us to laser technology. Laser technology originally created for black and white printing has evolved in recent years to provide beautiful color prints at high speed.

Laser Printing

Laser is today’s most efficient method of printing in black in white. Laser offers high speed, and bright text. However, when you move into color laser printers something interesting begins to happen. You basically have to build four color laser printers into one box. To produce color images, you need to combine Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and black toner. The color laser printer does this by using four different color toner cartridges and fusing the colors to the page with intense heat.

Color lasers offer the benefits of beautiful printing quality at high speed in excess of 24 pages per minute. They blow away inkjet in terms of speed and the ability to print in volume. Most color lasers have a duty cycle in excess of 65,000 pages per month. They also provide the ability to print in larger formats like 11 X 17.

Downsides to laser printing

High cost. These costs have been coming down and will continue to do so. The printer manufacturers are duplicating the formula used with inkjets. Subsidize the cost of the hardware with future profits derived from toner. This translates to a shockingly high cost on the individual toner cartridges. One set of toner can cost $750 to $1,500 depending on the printer. The yield on one set of toner will range from about 5,000 pages to 14,000 pages at 5% coverage. And you will need to replace the imaging unit or photo conductor, as well as oil rollers, drums and fusers. Bottom line, they are expensive to acquire and use.

Secondly, waste – what do you do with all the empty toner cartridges? You can fill the landfills or potentially find someone who will take these to be recycled. In either case it’s a hassle and again most get thrown away.

Cost per page – This is something you will need to consider on a printer by printer basis. Expect a cost per page of around .25 cents per page for a page with 20% coverage.

Solid Ink technology, invented by Xerox®

What is solid ink? Solid ink is a waxed based ink that is made into specially shaped cubes of ink that can be fed through the printer. The solid ink is actually melted and applied to the page and instantly cooled to form vivid color images that rival other technology. The printers are fast! At 24 pages per minute.

Solid ink printers handle high volume. The Xerox Phaser® 8400™ and C2424™ are rated to print up to 85,000 pages per month.

They are inexpensive to use. Using Media Sciences compatible solid ink allows you to print color pages at an incredible .15 cents per page at 20% coverage. You save on all your color printing.

There is no waste. Once the Solid ink stick is used up there is nothing to throw away and there is no mess. The ink sticks are easy to handle and will not create a mess like ink cartridges or toner. Best of all, you only replace the individual color needed. No more wasting ink when you are low on just one color.

Downside to solid ink

The only downside is not quite enough resolution to match the very best photo quality inkjet output.