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Solid ink is a technology used in computer printers and multifunction devices originally created by Tektronix in 1986. After Xerox acquired the Tektronix Colour Printing and Imaging Division in 2000, the solid ink technology became part of the Xerox line of office printing and imaging products. Early offerings focused on the graphic arts industry. The Phaser III product introduced in 1991 cost $10,000 US. As the technology improved and costs were reduced, the focus shifted to office printing environments where quality and cost efficiency are important.
Solid ink technology utilises solid ink sticks in lieu of the fluid ink or toner powder usually used in printers. After the ink stick is loaded into the printing device, it is melted and used to produce images on paper in a process similar to offset printing . Xerox claims that solid ink printing produces more vibrant colours than other methods, is easier to use, can print on a wide range of media, and is more environmentally friendly due to reduced waste output. The sticks are non-toxic and safe to handle. In the mid 1990s, the president of Tektronix actually ate part of a stick of solid ink, demonstrating that they are safe to handle and presumably, eat. The medium of the ink was (at least at the time) made from food-grade processed vegetable oils .
Current solid ink products are the Xerox Phaser 8560 and 8860 colour printers and the Xerox Phaser 8560MFP and 8860MFP colour multifunction printers. Being otherwise identical, 8560 and 8860 differ by the shape of the ink stick, and the ink price is set much lower for 8860 model, which is, correspondingly, sold for much higher price.
Xerox introduced the new ColorQube 9200 series of tabloid multifunction device on May 7, 2009. This is the first solid ink multifunction device to be capable of printing up to 12×18″ (Tabloid Extra) or SRA3. In the 1990s, a succession of solid ink printers capable of printing up to Tabloid Extra were introduced, including the Phaser III, the Phaser 300, and culminating with the Phaser 380 in 1997.
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