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DIGITAL digest

August 2002

To help spur understanding, X-Rite recently opened a 6,000-square-foot, interactive Customer Center at its headquarters. Individual displays highlight the application of color measurement in the various market segments.

The facility also houses custom manufacturing operations, which was another stop on the tour. The relatively low volume, high precision requirements of X-Rite's products have dictated that it bring everything—from machine shop to circuit board assembly operations—in-house, management says.

Lastly, the press event included a preview of the company's latest product, the 939 portable 0°/45° spectrodensitometer. According to the manufacturer, the unit features a proprietary, high-resolution, 31-point spectral engine that yields an average agreement of .15 Delta-E. It can store more than 3,000 color references and samples internally. This model will replace the 938 by year's end, says Iain Pike, worldwide product marketing manager, Imaging & Printing Businesses.


Xerox Looks to Toner for Growth

ROCHESTER, NY—Xerox Corp. recently rolled out two color copier/printer systems that are more significant for what they represent than what they do, at least in the professional printing marketplace. The DocuColor 1632 and 2240 were designed around the company's new EA (emulsion aggregation) toner technology, which is expected to be the future of Xerox's output product line.

The performance characteristics of these devices make them best suited for the corporate and quick printing market segments, says M. (Abby) Abhyankar, vice president of worldwide marketing for Xerox' Color Solutions Business Unit. They really are not being targeted to high-end printing or proofing applications, he adds. (The company did also introduce the DocuColor 6060 digital color press, which fits between the DC2000 series and iGen3 professional production systems. For more on this press, see the "New Products" item on page 56.)

EA toner, however, is expected to evolve into a solution for the broader printing market, Abhyankar reports.

According to Xerox, toner traditionally has been made by pulverizing larger strands of raw materials into small particles. The process is both energy intensive and inexact, since the resulting particle size cannot be precisely controlled. This manufacturing method produces toner with average particle size greater than seven microns in diameter, the company claims.

Emulsion aggregation technology is said to "grow" toner particles with well-defined shapes and smaller (three to five microns) sizes. Xerox then incorporates the particles into a wax-based formulation for oil-less fusing. Reported benefits include lower operating costs, improved image quality and reduced environmental impact. "The technology puts 30 percent less toner on the sheet," Abhyankar notes.

Pieces printed with EA toner are smoother both visually (because of the smaller particles) and physically (because a thinner layer is applied). They also have a matte finish that is more akin to uncoated ink, but unexpected in a toner-based process. The thinner layer of toner holds up better to folding and scoring.

Xerox had said it planned to use Japan as a test market for EA toner-based systems. Abhyankar says the technology's U.S. debut was moved up somewhat because of the promise the toner has shown and because the printers filled a hole in the company's product line.

One station in X-Rite's new demo center highlights its ATD News 2 color measurement system for newspaper production, which The Wall Street Journal has employed with its move into color pages.

This highly magnified comparison of traditional and EA (inset) toner particles shows the latter's more spherical shape.
 

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