Xerox is a globally recognized workplace technology company offering business services, including office and production digital printing solutions and printers designed for efficient document workflows. Founded in 1906 as the Haloid Company, Xerox remains a global leader, thanks to its continual evolution and innovations that have helped them lead the workplace documents market for over 100 years.
This two-part case study blog series will explain how we helped develop an improved custom multi-layered fuser roller technology that would become integral to Xerox’s high-speed printers capable of producing more than 200 images per minute.
We caught up with Ames Corp. Director of Product Development Ron Brush and Hank Dykstra, senior production manager, to learn more about this incredible project. This post will provide an overview and explain our challenges during development.
We started working with Xerox in the mid-1960s when they developed and commercialized xerography, a dry photocopying technique. This advanced process uses an imaging that takes black or colored powder, also known as toner, and adheres it to an electrically charged photoconductive surface. That toner is then transferred to paper where it enters a fusing engine which, via time, temperature and pressure, affixes the toner to the paper producing and archivable copy.
In its continual quest to maximize the performance and life of its rollers used in the fusing systems to reduce service time, Xerox approached us to help them perfect its fuser technology. The goal was to minimize failures for higher roller performance and longer lifespans.
So, our exceptionally talented chemist and engineering and production teams collaborated with Minco Manufacturing, a former company that specialized in hard-coating metals with a fluoropolymer. We set out to combine their hard-coating experience with our rubber roller development capabilities to develop a unique multilayer construction with and elastomeric base layer and spray-on fluoropolymer solution to enhance wear characteristics for longer-lasting and superior release Xerox fuser rollers.
Throughout the development process, we encountered several challenges that required careful consideration to ensure we addressed them correctly for optimal fuser roller performance.
These challenges included:
- Non-cylindrical surface geometry – The surface geometry of Xerox’s fuser rollers is not cylindrical. Instead, its geometry is crown or concave depending on how it deflects, creating challenges with the roller sleeves.
- Oil absorption – Silicone is an excellent base layer roller because it is soft and compliant. However, it’s also prone to oil absorption, which is use to aide toner release, compromising the roller’s performance. As a result, we needed to determine how to treat the surface, so it doesn’t absorb oil.
- Silicone base layer thickness – Ensuring the soft silicone substrate had a thickness that provided a high degree of thermal transfer to melt the toner, yet enough thickness to be compliant to the toner pile on the paper was another challenge we addressed in the development process.
- Toner affixation – The fuser roller’s critical attributes require imparting heat and pressure while allowing time for the toner to affix or melt onto the paper. As such, we were challenged to ensure the necessary surface energy so that the toner only adheres to the paper – not the roller. Otherwise, the result is hot offset printing, where residual toner that remained on the roll will impart a shadow image onto the next print.
- Roller total thickness – Xerox proposed thickening the top layer of the fuser rollers to help increase their lifespan. However, thicker isn’t necessarily better. If the roller is too thick, it can produce poor image quality due to poor toner pile compliance. Our challenge was determining the appropriate thickness to balance life vs image quality
Stay tuned for part two of this case study blog series, where we’ll cover the multilayer solution. We helped develop to amplify the performance and lifetime of Xerox’s fuser rollers. We’ll also reveal the results of this collaborative fuser roller development process, including the decades-long impact on Xerox.
We have over 70 years of experience providing high-performance rubber solutions for markets, including office automation, aerospace, medical, automotive, and industrial. Our access to elastomeric materials from the leading global rubber suppliers, novel approaches, and comprehensive manufacturing and laboratory capabilities have allowed us to develop over 5,000 different elastomers.
Contact us to discover how we can develop long-lasting and optimal-performing roller and elastomeric solutions for your application.