The Secrets Behind Super EA-Eco Toner
Starting from the late 1980s, Fuji Xerox has been improving the print quality of the xerography process due to advancements in digital technology. In addition, in response to the demands of our customers and society, we have been continuously conducting research and development into toner, one of the important functional parts of xerography, in order to provide various forms of value. Now, Fuji Xerox has developed Super EA-Eco toner, which enables uncompromising high print quality while also reducing our impact on the environment to an unprecedented low level. Here, we introduce the evolution of our toner up to now and the new value provided by Super EA-Eco toner.
The evolution of Fuji Xerox toner
Until the 1990s, ground toner manufactured by the pulverization method was used in our devices. This method involves grinding raw materials into fine particles until they are the desired size. However, with this manufacturing method, it was difficult to achieve toner particles small enough to deliver superior image quality while also reducing the amount of energy consumed in the toner production process. Then, in the 2000s, the development of Emulsion Aggregation toner (EA toner) introduced a completely new method of toner production. With this method, it was possible to make toner particles that were both smaller in diameter and more uniform in shape and size compared to conventional pulverized toner, which meant more faithful reproduction of images and enhanced image quality. In addition, we were also able to reduce the CO2 emissions in the toner manufacturing process by 35%. This EA toner was introduced to the market as a product that conserves energy and resources while also providing high image quality. Next, in the latter half of the 2000s, in response to customer demand for even higher image quality (achieving a high-gloss finish when printing on glossy paper) as well as reduced energy consumption and improved productivity, we developed the new EA-Eco toner, which made fusing at a lower temperature possible. With its new material design, EA-Eco toner achieved super low-temperature fusing performance, with a fusing temperature 20 degrees lower than that of the previous EA toner, and high-gloss printing. This technology reduced power consumption at customer sites by approximately 40% compared with conventional EA toner, greatly contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions. EA-Eco toner, with its world-class low-temperature fusing performance, has been introduced into many Fuji Xerox products such as printers, multifunction devices for offices, and production color printers, helping to reduce the environmental load of offices. Now, we have finally evolved our superior image quality and low-temperature fusing performance even further to develop Super EA-Eco toner, which boasts a fusing temperature approximately 10 degrees lower than that of EA-Eco toner.
Improving the reproductivity of high-resolution images and halftones and enabling high print quality
With the spread of high-performance PCs and image editing software, there are now increasing opportunities in offices to create documents with fine, high-resolution images, charts, and characters. Because of this, sharper reproduction of small characters, thin lines, and halftones is required. Fuji Xerox succeeded in developing Super EA-Eco toner to have one of the industry’s smallest toner particle sizes and to be uniform in shape. This improved the reproductivity of images by enabling small characters and thin lines to be printed clearly and reducing image roughness.
Reducing the size of toner particles allows halftone dots to be reproduced more clearly. This helps to improve image quality and allows halftones, such as those in images of a blue sky or a baby’s skin, to be reproduced more smoothly and beautifully.
Achieving world-class low-temperature fusing performance and contributing to a reduction in offices’ impact on the environment
In recent years, awareness toward energy conservation is increasing worldwide, and various eco-friendly products are now being used in offices. Many eco-friendly technologies are also being developed for multifunction devices and laser printers, which are essential in offices. Fuji Xerox has been working continuously on the development of technologies to lower the fusing temperature in order to reduce the electricity consumption of the toner fusing process, which accounts for approximately 70% of the total energy consumption of multifunction devices and laser printers. Our newly developed sharp-melting polyester microdispersion technology succeeded in lowering the fusing temperature by 10 degrees for Super EA-Eco toner compared to that of EA-Eco toner, which up until then had reigned at the top of the industry in terms of low-temperature fusing performance. This technology enabled us to manufacture toner with superior low-temperature fusing performance without sacrificing heat durability. This allows the toner to melt more quickly during the fusing process while preventing it from melting at room temperature. Super EA-Eco toner greatly contributes to reducing the energy consumption of multifunction devices and the impact of offices on the environment.
Fuji Xerox hopes to continue to provide value to customers by developing toner that delivers improved print quality, color reproductivity, and stability while incorporating technology that adds new value to printed output and increases its appeal. In an aim to continually reduce our impact on the environment, we will actively pursue technological innovations to increase the energy efficiency of our multifunction devices and printers.
[Messages from our developers]
Mr. Matsumoto (in charge of toner design): We were able to achieve higher image quality and uniform density using smaller amounts of toner by developing various methods to make the toner particles smaller and by determining the optimal amounts of the materials contained in the toner. We will continue working to pursue higher image quality.
Ms. Kiyono (in charge of toner design): We revised the external additives used in order to find those that are optimal for use with smaller toner particles. As a result, we succeeded in creating toner with high heat durability (i.e., which does not stick together at room temperature) and fine fluidity. This reduced the scattering of toner, contributing to further enhancement of the image quality.
Mr. Furuki (in charge of system design): I was able to contribute to the development of both higher image quality and low-temperature fusing by finding the best balance of toner and additives, not to mention the systems used in the xerography process. I would like to continue working to investigate the mechanisms of toner and additives.
Mr. Nakamura (in charge of production technology): It was very difficult to create the appropriate recipe (the amounts of materials, methods of adding them, conditions of production, etc.) to allow for stable production of toner. We will continue to provide high-quality toner to our customers through stable production.
Mr. Takagi (in charge of toner design): I was very happy to contribute to reducing the environmental load of offices through the development of low-temperature fusing toner, which does not stick together at room temperature but melts quickly during the fusing process. We will continue to pursue the best environmental performance.