Solid ink printers are a relatively new technology in the printing world, and they have many advantages. They are more environmentally-friendly, with less packaging waste and no cartridge that must be thrown away, unlike inkjet and laser printers. They also provide excellent color accuracy, and are more versatile when it comes to media types.
This is not to say that solid ink technology doesn’t have its drawbacks and disadvantages, however, and these should be carefully noted by anyone debating whether or not to purchase a solid ink printer. Let us look at a few of the major drawbacks of solid ink technology.
Moving the Printer While Warm
One of the major issues with a solid ink printer is that once the solid ink sticks have been inserted and melted, moving the printer, while it is still warm from this process, can cause damage to the machine. Instead, users have to follow a proper cool-down process which often involves shutting down the device for at least 30 minutes. This could mean a major interruption to office workflow.
From time to time, the ink in the reservoir may get cool enough that air gets into the printheads, which would potentially cause poor print quality. The unit must then eject some ink in order to clear the printhead, which goes into a waste ink reservoir. While this is generally an infrequent issue, it can lead to a fair amount of wasted ink over time.
Older ink sticks such as the Xerox Phaser 8560N ink sticks can sometimes emit an odor when the ink is melted for printing, which some users might find unpleasant. This is less of an issue with newer versions, such as ColorQube 8570 ink sticks, as they use an improved formula, but it is a factor worth considering when purchasing an older machine.
Printing a letterhead with a solid ink printer then feeding it through a laser printer or other device can often cause problems, as the heat from the second machine may cause the solid ink portions to melt and deform. Offices that plan to print a lot of letterheads might want to consider another technology.
Fading and Scratching
Solid ink are more suspectible to fading than other technologies. Prints left in the sun may begin to fade more quickly than those from an inkjet or laser printer, for example. Another issue is that large amounts of solid ink applied to a page are sometimes easily scratched off, though this has become less of an issue with newer models.
While solid ink technology has quite a few drawbacks, the advantages may outweigh them, especially for users who wish to be more environmentally-friendly. Buyers should consider all of these factors when making their buying decision. If you do decide to purchase one, be sure to read Maintaining a solid ink printer for tips on getting the most life out of your machine.