May 12, 2009 Although solid ink technology has been around for over a decade, solid ink printers have largely remained the domain of the graphic arts industry because they print more slowly and are unsuitable for higher volume printing. But Xerox has now firmly set its sights on the office market with its ColorQube 9200 Series multifunction printer, which uses new print head technology, with nozzles half the width of a human hair, to overcome past problems.

The development of microscopic nozzles, each just 37.5 microns wide, has enabled Xerox to cram 880 nozzles onto each of the four print heads found in the printer. That’s twice the number per linear inch compared to previous print heads. Despite their reduced size, the more than 3,500 nozzles are able to deliver 150 million ink drops per second. That’s a 400 percent increase in ink flow and gives the printer the ability to print up to 85 pages of color each minute.

In solid ink technology, the ink is solid at room temperature, in the form of crayon-like ink sticks, which are melted inside the printer before the ink is loaded into the print head in liquid form. Doing away with cartridges to hold the ink is more environmentally friendly, reducing waste by 90 percent compared to office laser-based printers. Xerox also claims that over its lifecycle, the ColorQube requires 9 percent less energy and produces 10 percent fewer greenhouse gases than comparable laser equipment.

The ColorQube 9200 Series also scans and copies and an Intelligent Ready system monitors work patterns and activates a power-saving mode based on a user's schedules – so it can be shut down if you are at lunch, for example. Meanwhile a patented vacuum system, only 17 thousandths of an inch wide, removes tiny paper dust particles from the printing zone to lengthen the life of the stainless steel industrial-strength print head, which Xerox claims will last the life of the machine.

The ColorQube 9200 Series is available in three models with different color speeds with Xerox claiming all models reduce color page costs by up to 62 percent. Potential buyers can check the figures for themselves at a website Xerox has set up to compare the cost of color printing to the ColorQube. Anyone in the US sufficiently swayed by the results can place an order for the ColorQube 9200 Series now. Those in Europe have to wait until September and everyone else until 2010.

Darren Quick