Solid Ink Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

With each new generation of Solid Ink, we continue to improve on this innovative technology. Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about Xerox Solid Ink.

Print Quality/Durability

Is Solid Ink print quality as good as laser print quality?

The Solid Ink print image is mechanically transferred from paper in a precise state without the ink spreading onto the paper. This makes its colour quality far less dependent on the paper's surface. Since Solid Ink prints the same vivid colour on any paper, you can use recycled and even less expensive, lower quality paper for all of your printing. Unlike with aqueous inkjet devices, you don't need super-white, smooth paper to get superb image quality with Solid Ink.

The true test is that Solid Ink products have been sold to very satisfied and loyal customers since 1991. The prints have a very similar look and feel to laser prints using chemically-grown toners that are currently on the market.

The SpencerLab Digital Color Laboratory, an industry-recognised image quality expert, conducted testing to compare ColorQube Solid Ink print quality with a range of toner-based multifunction printers. The thorough print quality evaluation showed the Xerox ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer offers competitive print quality in elements of a typical office document such as text, lines, images, tints and blends.

How can Solid Ink print resolution be as sharp as laser when Solid Ink does not produce as many dots per inch as laser?

Print resolution, while a common spec people look at, does not tell the whole story about print quality. When evaluating print quality, you should examine print samples across a variety of prints on a variety of media. Solid Ink is an entirely different print technology and uses a different printing process from xerography. Solid Ink pixels are much more discrete and can be precisely placed to within ½ of a pixel. Although Solid Ink pixels (spots) are not smaller than toner particles, they can be placed as a single pixel, unlike toner particles that are placed on the image in "clumps" to create a single pixel. Colour-to-colour registration is manufactured into the Solid Ink print head – it is not developed at print time within the printing mechanism. Therefore, colour-to-colour output is more consistent with Solid Ink than with laser toner.

The aforementioned SpencerLab report shows the ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer offers competitive print quality on text, lines, images, tints and blends in typical office documents.

Does Solid Ink scratch off easily?

Earlier products were less durable than laser, but that was back in 1991 when Solid Ink was a new technology. Since then, we have improved ink formulation to reduce its pile height on paper. This makes prints more resistant to scratching.

Do Solid Ink printouts fade and crack over time?

We have a folder of prints from our first Solid Ink printer developed in 1991 that have been stored in a filing cabinet. They were not stored in any special way and look identical to Solid Ink prints made yesterday.

Buyers Laboratory, Inc. (BLI) conducted a comprehensive Comparative Image Permanence/Durability test that concluded the Xerox ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer's image permanence is comparable to that of colour laser imaging technology.

Can you write on Solid Ink printouts?

For typical text-based based office documents, such as memos, charts and graphs, you can easily write on the paper itself. On pages with high colour coverage, certain pens may not write smoothly on the image, but that is no different from other technologies on the market.

Buyers Laboratories, Inc. (BLI) conducted a writeability test comparing ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer output with output from three of its competitors. The ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer received the same scores as the three laser multifunction printers.

Does Solid Ink melt in hot weather and cause pages to stick together?

The ink's melting temperature is close to the boiling point of water. Normal use and storage temperatures do not come close to this. Saying Solid Ink prints melt in hot weather is no truer than saying laser prints burst into flames. At some temperature, both are true, but not at any realistic office or storage temperature.

Ease of Operation/Reliability

Do Solid Ink print heads clog easily?

No. We have built smart technology into Solid Ink products so that if one print head becomes clogged temporarily, other print heads around it compensate for it. Then the clogged print head fixes itself through calibration. No service call is needed.

Does the Solid Ink print head cleaning cycle drain the printer of ink?

No. Our cleaning cycle is very short and consumes only a small amount of ink (about 3 grams per colour for the ColorQube 8570 and ColorQube 8870 printers, for example).

When you make a copy of a Solid Ink printout, does the original stick to the platen glass?

No. Solid Ink prints can be fed reliably through any document feeder on the market today, and can be placed directly on the platen glass while copying without sticking.

Do Solid Ink devices take a long time to warm up?

This is generally not an issue in the typical office environment where machines are not powered off. Machines left idle automatically go into lower power modes. Xerox developed a patented Intelligent Ready power management feature that "learns" the unique print usage patterns of your office. The Solid Ink device will be in Ready mode when you need it, and in its lowest energy state when not needed, increasing energy efficiency.

Can you move a Solid Ink printer after it's been installed?

Moving printers and multifunction printers after installation is a rare event. It is best to allow the ink to solidify before moving the Solid Ink printer or multifunction printer when the rare occasion arises. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes for the ink to solidify after the machine is turned off. Once the ink is in a solid state, the machine can be moved as easily and readily as any other technology.

Is Solid Ink a reliable technology?

Yes. Solid Ink printing uses a very reliable technology that has been on the market since 1991. Xerox continues to build on the tremendous success of Solid Ink technology with each new generation. We also borrow from the best aspects of our other printing and multifunction technologies to improve Solid Ink.

In fact, reliability is one of the Xerox ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer's strengths. The ColorQube printer underwent rigorous evaluation with the independent research organisation Buyers Laboratory (BLI), where it earned excellent reliability scores and was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Environmental Sustainability/Power Consumption

Do Solid Ink products use more power than laser?

Every electronic device consumes energy. However, for printers, paper production, consumption and disposal dominate the lifecyle environmental impacts. We go to great lengths to build power-saving features into our products, and Solid Ink printers are no exception. For instance, our Intelligent Ready software learns your usage patterns and reduces power consumption by moving into a "power save" mode when you are least likely to use the printer.

What's the environmental impact of Solid Ink versus laser technology?

Power consumption is only a part of the sustainability story. Solid Ink products can contribute to your environmental goals through the following features:

Cartridge-free Solid Ink sticks avoid the additional packaging required by toner cartridges. Fewer resources are used and less energy is invested in manufacturing and transporting Solid Ink. That translates to up to 90% less printing waste in your office and up to 13% lower greenhouse gases across the product lifecycle. This is based on a Xerox-conducted lifecycle assessment that was peer-reviewed by the Rochester Institute of Technology. The assessment compares a Solid Ink device to a comparable colour laser multifunction device.

Is Solid Ink made from biorenewable materials?

Xerox Solid Inks are composed of non-toxic waxes, resins and dyes. Xerox Solid Ink has been certified to have 30% biorenewable material content by the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM).

The components have been carefully selected for a combination of traits that allows for high print quality and yet only use materials that can pass our health and safety reviews.

Other Questions

Do Solid Ink products waste ink?

Waste is not unique to Solid Ink. Laser-based products produce waste toner that is collected in a waste toner bottle which requires replacement and disposal when full. Waste from Solid Ink is non-toxic and can be safely disposed of in your local waste stream.

How can I tell whether I'm being billed accurately for colour usage with the ColorQube Hybrid Colour Plan?

Companies have used meter reads to calculate their printing costs for years. Software powers the meter read functionality. Similar software is used in ColorQube multifunction printers, but it is more sophisticated. It distinguishes between a page with 5% colour usage and a page with 90% colour usage and charges you less for the 5% coverage page than for the 90% coverage page. Other colour laser technologies on the market today charge the same price whether you print 5% colour or 90% colour on a page.

The calculation of the amount of colour on a page is integrated into the normal processing of files as they are converted for printing on a ColorQube Solid Ink multifunction printer. Useful, Everyday and Expressive Colour pages all have the same print quality.

What is Solid Ink, and how does it work?

Solid Ink is a simple, cartridge-free colour printing technology that produces up to 90% less printing waste than laser printing technology. It uses solid sticks of ink formulated from a non-toxic, resin-based polymer similar to a crayon. Solid Ink sticks are safe to handle and cannot spill, leak or smudge on your clothes.

Stringent manufacturing ensures colours are consistent from stick to stick and page to page. 100% of all ink is inspected. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black Solid Ink sticks are clearly numbered and specially shaped so they drop into the correct slots for easy loading. You can load Solid Ink sticks for long, uninterrupted printing and "top off" the ink at any time.

Inside the printer, Solid Ink is transferred from the print drum to the paper in a precise state. The ink does not spread into the paper. Because Solid Ink's colour quality is far less dependent on the paper's surface, it can maintain excellent colour quality on a broad range of media types, including inexpensive and recycled papers.