Ariel Schwartz

Xerox Solid Ink Printer Cuts Waste by 90%

by , 05/14/09
filed under: green gadgets

printer cartridge, xerox, solid ink cartridge, xerox colorqube, energy-efficient printing

Ink toner cartridges are expensive, wasteful, and energy-intensive. That’s why Xerox’s new ColorQube 9200 printers are so innovative. Instead of using traditional cartridges, the printers use solid blocks of ink that melt when heated. Xerox claims that its $23,500 machine–meant squarely for corporate customers–can cut printing costs by 60% and eliminate 90% of all waste. And because solid ink sticks don’t have shells, there aren’t empty cartridges to deal with when the ink runs out.

printer cartridge, xerox, solid ink cartridge, xerox colorqube, energy-efficient printing

This isn’t the first time Xerox has launched a solid ink–capable printer. In 2004, the company unveiled the $999 Xerox Phaser 8400. But the printer received poor ratings, with PC World claiming that solid ink scratches off more easily than plastic toner. Since then, Xerox has completely revamped its solid ink system to deliver faster performance.

Unfortunately, Xerox doesn’t plan to release a solid ink–ready printer for consumers any time soon. If the ColorQube does well, though, expect other companies to get in on the solid ink action.

+ Xerox

Via Venturebeat

printer cartridge, xerox, solid ink cartridge, xerox colorqube, energy-efficient printing

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15 Comments

  1. Hans Uaeli September 16, 2010 at 4:36 am

    We are using 4 Xerox Color Qube Sytem(Wax Solid ink)50-80 pages per minute for 6000 Students and ar amused by the little waste that is produced. And the speed and Quality is perfect. The only thing that has to get better is the Stand by Energy consumption of 200W.
    But still if you consider the hole Process it is far better the Laser Tecnology

  2. otto March 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Solid ink works well in my department. We have a Phaser 8500 and a HP Color 3000 and a few HP 4350s. I have not seen any waste of the waxy ink because we leave it on all the time and it does go into deep power saving sleep mode. The Phaser printer prints decent color, but it’s not quite as good as the HP 3000 for photos. I do like the waxy consistancy for certain applications. It makes the pictures somewhat waterproof.

    With the solid ink, we certainly have a much smaller storage footprint than with the HP toners. Our group also happens to buy cheaper recycled toners for the 4350s, but, so far with first batch, 1 in 5 tend to leak and cause trouble. When we had HP 8000s and 8500s, the recycled toners worked well with maybe only 1 in 30 ever leaking or causing us trouble. Overall, I think we can save a bit of money and headache with the solid ink and the newer HP printers.

  3. Spinalzo March 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I purchased a used Xerox Phaser 8400 “DX” model (it has all the features you’d want, plus some) in January 2010 for a 1 man office and I am amazed at the quality of the printer’s hardware, stability, software and ease of use. The printer is really not designed for such small usage numbers as it is better sutied for a mid-szed work group, but I knew that when I bought it and also knew there would be mental adjustments to the expectations I had about the machnine and that there would be physical adjustments the machine would make in adjusting to that somewhat limited usage – this on a machine that really wants to be used much, much more. Yes, my limited usage will make it cycle through a modest cleaning ritual now and again, but I expect that because of my modest usage, the printer keeps the print nozzles free and working by purging a small amount of ink as if I had made all those prints it likes. It is unlike other printers in that you DO NOT TURN IT OFF as you would other printers and electronics, but you allow it to learn your usage habits or you can manually put it into a sleep mode if you are going to be away from the machine for a while that day.

    I also made the decision to use 3rd party, aftermarket ink and it has performed flawlessly. Now, I don’t use the printer as a sole source of generating income so exact color is not ctitical to me (even though the output results are exceptional), but I do want a machine that will make my small operation look good and professional to my clients. This machine does exactly that while also providing ease of use with the drop-in ink sticks and very little in items that might be termed “recyclable” or “disposable”. I would suggest that as part of the “solid ink” experience you remember to change your mindset and allow this printer to then meet your expectations (especially if you’re a one man office). For me, the 3rd party ink experience has lowered my costs per page dramatically from the publicly published usage numbers to about 1/3 of that cost, so even with the machine having to go through a modest cleaning to account for my limited usage, its’ still a winner.

  4. Bliss Solutions February 13, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Xerox is a joke…

    “Solid Ink” printers may save on consumables (by using less ink)…
    But every Xerox Phaser Printer has almost needed its own Power Plant.

    Hint: Look at the “Power Consumption” of these devices…
    It would be more ‘environmental’ to run 5 Different Color Laser Printers than a single Xerox Phaser.

    And don’t get me wrong…
    i own a Xerox Phaser 8200 and just love the printing quality (it kicks all over any Color Laser Printer).
    Its just i couldn’t justify using it again, once i learned how much power it was sucking.

  5. preec1kj October 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I’m not understanding the $23000 price tag everyone seems to be quoting. I’m looking at a $798.99 price tag for a 8560N printer. Can someone fill me in as to why the prices mentioned are so high? Thanks!

  6. tculver October 1, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Solid ink technology is not new, it came along with Xerox’s acquistion of Tecktronics in the early 90′s. What is new is the composition of the ink. Not as “waxy” as previous models and much more durable. Sometimes the reps forget to tell the customers not to turn off the printers which causes the ink to gel and startup wastes a lot of ink. The newer models have smart sense in them which swiches them into a deep sleep position when not in use and although a solid ink printer uses a bit more energy than a comparable laser, the waste benefits are amazing. Xerox does account for shipping of used toner bottles etc back for recycling but people forget the fuel that is used to get those used bottles to the recycling plant. Solid ink comes in a recycled cardboard contaier (yes the tray is platic) but otherwise the ink would be exposed to the elements via transit. All in all, I am a totally satisfied solid ink customer. BEAUTIFUL COLOR at an acceptable cost. Great service as well.

  7. patis1km September 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Working for a college paper in the advertising department, we need printers that can do massive quantities of proofs and ad copies for clients. The idea of having reduced-waste cartridges is fantastic, though it doesn’t appear to me that Xerox can live up to its claim. fred sanford’s comment made me realize that Xerox’s marketing strategy doesn’t live up to the hype for their “green” cartridges. Without his input, I would have readily believed that Xerox wanted to help reduce the burden on the environment and genuinely try to help make our world cleaner.

    While the Xerox solid ink cartridges sound like a wise investment, our facility would not have the capital to make up-front payments for the printer and cartridges. I saw some “cheaper” printers that take solid ink cartridges for over $23,000; who can afford or justify the initial investment when we have decent printers right now? Not only that, but each subsequent cartridge is an additional burden on our paper. Presently, we recycle each Phaser printer cartridge and ensure minimal waste by conserving paper and ink whenever possible; what can Xerox offer that would improve our current system?

    Reading the other comments posted here, I would not recommend buying a Xerox solid ink printer to my superiors. I appreciate the details about the size, loudness and performance of the printers; it really gives me some insight into the reality of owning one of these “green” printers. I think that the real innovation here is the marketing strategy; it hits on our desires to improve the environment and save money. Many thanks to everyone who posted updated information about Xerox products!

  8. sonnymoon42 June 28, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I have a Xerox Phaser 8400, which printed beautiful color pages–at first–but now the colors are streaky and there are gaps in areas where there should be ink. I have run the “clean printheads” mode time and time again (a process which wastes an enormous amount of expensive solid ink) to no avail.

    As much as I loved many of the printer’s features (networkable, true Postscript, double sided printing), I am disappointed by the high cost of ink and the eventual degredation of image quality. I would need to spend almost half the cost of the machine to replace the printhead.

    I will not be buying another Xerox solid ink printer in the future, or any other Xerox product. From what I have read online, clogged printheads are quite common in this line of printers. Poor engineering and lack of oversight, I would say.

    As for the article, consumer-level solid ink printers have been available for many years, long before the 8400 was introduced.

  9. fALk_g May 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I own a phaser 8500 and its the worst printer anyone can imagine – and for sure its one thing not: environmental friendly. Because it pumps through so much of the really expensive ink every time you turn it off/on (to clean the printheads) the only viable option is to leave it on standby that draws more power then a inkjet printer under use (I am not exaggerating here). Yes turning the printer off and then back on costs you 25 Euros in ink. If in standby the printheads are heated constantly. Also it uses generally MUCH more ink then they claim – I have no idea what they are printing over there but under what I consider normal use in a good quality the ink lasts about 1/10th as long as claimed by Xerox (and I had three repairman over here to confirm \\\”this is normal for your usage pattern\\\”). Then the sticks (penny ware I would say – just some molten wax in the end with some good pigments) come in wastefull plastic trays inside full colored glossy cardbord boxes. Also there is more stuff that needs to be replaced in the printer pretty often that adds to waste (like the cleaner cartrige and the tray (so you can just empty that yourself and cry by all the ink that is in it that you paid money for and never saw a print from).

    Xerox not only does betray the customers – its full out lying and totally greedy and its sure as hell neither green nor particularely innovative (they bought the company that developed the solid ink tech). I personally will never ever buy again a printer from them.

    (I didn´t even mention how huge the printer is and how LOUD it is under operation and that the front loading paper tray needs manual feeding (again repair man said \\\”thats normal\\\”) and that the software is about as unintuitive as it gets and that you have to pay – even under warranty – when you want a service rep over to look at your printer (I paid 20 Euros waiting on their for pay phoneline in total).

  10. fred sanford May 15, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    your article is wrong on almost every point.

    we have multiple Xerox solid ink color printers (Phaser 8560, 8400), as well as multiple laser printers (toner), both color (Phaser 6250 and 6350) and black and white (phaser 4500, 4510 and docuprint n2125)

    Xerox tried to give us the same \”more environmentally friendly\” garbage about their solid ink printers; however if you read the fine print (or talk to them about their analysis).

    Environmentally they have made some serious assumptions :
    - they do NOT account for recycling the laser toner cartridge, or its shipping/packing box – ie: their assessment is that it all gets thrown away.
    - they do NOT account for the shipping packaging, or direct packaging of the solid ink toners – ie: cardboard box in which they are shipped, the cardboard box in which the solid ink is packaged, the plastic \’tray\’ in which the solid ink is housed inside the cardboard packaging.

    Cost — solid ink is more expensive, and even more so than Xerox claims due to discrepancies in actual pages printed verses claims
    - according to Xerox one block of ink gets about 1500 pages (reality is between 700-1000 depending on color and type of printing), which means a printer holds about 4500 pages of print capability for one color (4 blocks of each color). Each block of ink costs about $34/block – xerox direct pricing – to print 10,000 pages of one color (at xerox quoted rate of 1500 pages/block) = $34 * 9 = $366
    - according to Xerox an extended capacity toner cartridge for a phaser 6350 prints 10,000 pages, for $265

    Quality :
    - solid ink is an ink-jet process. instead of using ink (as a $50 printer does) the solid ink printers use melted silicon color blocks (crayons). So you can expect to get similar quality in color and image reproduction.
    - Heat – expose a solid ink printout to temps about 130 degrees f and the ink gets soft and can/does run or stick to other surfaces. Think about your google map directions on the dashboard of your car in the summer.
    - scratching. The current inks *are* better than the original Tektronix inks in this regard – however – it is still not extremely difficult to scratch a printout – without tearing the paper. Try a fixed point pen for example.

    So…..
    overall – Im afraid you\’ve swallowed – hook line and sinker – Xerox\’s marketing.

  11. Dastt May 15, 2009 at 9:11 am

    We have several xerox solid ink printers at work and each one has been amazing since the day i set them up. Uses VERY little ink per page and produces amazing quality with a nice texture .

  12. graceffa2000 May 15, 2009 at 8:50 am

    well, I don’t think you need the conspiracy theory. The reason that it won’t make it to consumers (at least with the old Phaser technology) is that each time the printer is used, it heats up a pool of ink. If the ink isn’t used in the cycle then it goes in the waste. For the average conusmer printing 5-10 pages a day, the technology wastes an incredible amount of ink/wax.

  13. BarneyC May 15, 2009 at 5:54 am

    I also seriously doubt we’ll see a consumer version of solid ink for a very very long time as most printer companies still think it’s a good idea to protect their stranglehold on the ink supply through hardware restrictions built into the ink casing (think chips on the cartridge).

    This isn’t such an issue at the $23k end of the market but for sub $100 printers the value is all in that ink supply chain.

  14. swalsh May 15, 2009 at 2:31 am

    This isn’t anything new. In 2000 my college multimedia department had a solid ink Tektronix. It used wax blocks that looked (and worked) like big crayons.

  15. David Bergman May 14, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I’m not sure you have your facts right about Xerox solid ink consumer machines. I’ve owned several Xerox (originally Tektronix) printers over the years, and they have at least two models in their current lineup.

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