by Lisa Guerriero
Part two of two
Toner development is an ongoing practice. Manufacturers of electrophotographic (EP) presses continuously evolve toner formulations to improve quality, durability, media versatility, consistency, and page yield. These factors allow more cost-effective printing and enable additional applications.
The result is an array of proprietary toners options, both dry and liquid, that have evolved significantly over the past ten years to meet the latest customer demands.
In part one of this series, we looked at specific advantages provided by the latest toner advancements. In part two, we explore toner advancements for products on the market.
Vendors use an array of formulas and strategies to improve toner and overall print quality.
Canon provides high-yield toner options designed to exhibit better edge sharpness, higher optical density, and better color consistency compared to toner used in its earlier EP models.
“What this means to our customers is that use of this high-yield toner will result in a lower overall cost per page,” explains Eric Hawkinson, senior director, marketing, Production Print Solutions, Canon.
The company’s Océ VarioStream series of high-speed, continuous-feed digital printers uses a high-efficiency toner featuring higher transfer efficiency from the photoconductor drum to the substrate compared to its predecessor. It delivers higher optical density and toner yields, ensuring a lower consumable cost per page.
Canon’s imagePRESS series offers a smaller, pulverized Constantly Vibrant toner with a smooth hard surface. It provides superior adhesion and a low melt point for consistent color and application diversity.
Since introducing a fifth ink station, Kodak expanded its specialty inks over the past decade for its NexPress offerings. Options include gold, light black, texture, protective coating, clear, and magnetic ink character recognition.
The company also reformulated its VOC-free toner to provide a smaller particle size to allow a denser black, vibrant color, and maximized uptime.
Kodak also introduced a Matte Finish option developed to virtually eliminate differential gloss, enabling an expanded array of finishes ranging from matte to satin to high gloss. This inline option targets pastels, B&W, matte and uncoated stocks, and reduces glare on marketing and promotional materials.
The company says that it is also exploring nanoparticle development.
Konica Minolta introduced its Simitri polymerized toner to the market in 2001, followed by the more advanced Simitri HD toner in 2006. Simitri now fuses at a lower temperature, reducing paper stress and saving energy by using less heat. The small size and consistent shape of Simitri HD toner particles ensure sharp reproduction of text as well as line drawings.
MGI uses a laser-safe, organic vegetal toner base instead of an oil-based toner composition. The vegetal base limits vulnerability to heat and pressure from handling, and is touted as environmentally friendly.
“This design also helps our toners melt at lower temperatures, requiring less heat and electrical power for printing. That means that MGI Meteor DP presses have a lower cost of operation and a more effective eco-business impact,” says Kevin Abergel, VP of marketing and sales, MGI USA.
The company reduced the size of particle components, providing density to enable rich and bright color. It shifted to higher-yield toner containers with improved packaging to maximize uptime, reportedly doubling the life span of each container from approximately 35,000 prints per unit to 75,000. Its toner enables printing on a variety of papers, plastics, and envelopes without the need to pretreat the substrate.
Ricoh’s Pro series toner devices utilize a small particle size with a uniform shape and low melt point to optimize print quality. The company cites improvements including overall image quality, consistency throughout a print run, and durability.
Several hardware advancements enable more efficiently toner use, such as the company’s Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser—or VCSEL—system, which emits multiple beams simultaneously to melt the toner. It renders sharper image detail and smoother gradations, producing 1,200×4,800 dpi resolution.
Compatible media options are tracked in the company’s paper library, “which allows users to capture key printing parameters specific to the sheet and easily recall them as needed, reducing set up time and potential mistakes,” explains Fred Morrone, product marketing manager, Ricoh.
Its Trained Customer Replaceable Units allow customers to maximize uptime by empowering them to replace key service components as needed.
Xeikon offers several toner options. Each targets specific applications and markets. The QA-I dry toner portfolio is for label and packaging converters. It includes CMYK, off-the-shelf spot colors for gamut expansion or to reproduce unique colors based on LAB values, and technical colors like one-pass opaque white, UV reflecting clear, or security colors that reflect a specific light spectrum or contain taggants.
The company recently launched a “Creative Colors” group. Its first two colors, MatteSilver and PalladiumSilver, enable more creative possibilities for designers as well as label and package printers and converters.
Based on Xeikon QA technology, the company’s ICE toner expands dry toner digital label production to heat-sensitive substrates like thermal transfer labels.
For the document and commercial printing markets, its QA-P offering benefits in fusing, increased color gamut, image quality and speed for a variety of applications.
Xerox says it is the first manufacturers to offer clear dry ink. Its low melt point enables multiple layers to deliver a textured effect.
Earlier this year the company introduced the option of gold and silver dry ink at rated speed, as well as two-pass capability. Xerox clear and metallic options enable enables a wide substrate range, including plastics and other specialty stocks.
The company also developed an Emulsion Aggregation process that utilizes sub-micron components to provide small, even particles. The ultra-low melt technology improves toner fusion, providing sharp, rich colors.
The next generation of liquid toner includes updated formulas, new offerings, and products currently in development.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) was an early proponent of liquid toner with its ElectroInk, developed for its Indigo presses. It contains charged pigmented particles in a liquid carrier. The cartridges contain a concentrated paste that is diluted with oil within the press, forming a fluid mixture of carrier liquid and colorant particles.
ElectroInk offers up to seven colors, an extended color gamut, spot colors, special effects, and embossed-style printing. Its particle size, one to two microns, provides high resolution, uniform gloss, sharp image edges and very thin ink layers.
In 2007, HP implemented a new particle grinding process that reduced the energy consumption in the manufacturing process by up to 40 percent, making it a “greener” option. The company introduced white about five years ago, enabling applications on both transparent and colored substrates. It also introduced additional specialty ElectroInk over the past few years, including metallics, clear for eye-catching gloss effects, and invisible UV red for security applications.
Xeikon recently announced Xeikon Trillium, a liquid toner option. Trillium-based presses target production of high-volume direct marketing materials, transactional documents, books, catalogs, and magazines.
Advancements for EP
Toner developments allow EP devices to compete with offset in quality. Each vendor hones its formulations to provide improved color, better adherence, and in many cases, specialty effects. Development is ongoing for both dry and liquid toner as manufacturers refine their products and explore new, sophisticated chemical compositions and processes. dps
Oct2015, DPS Magazine