From Xerography to Digital Photocopiers

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Published: 17th November 2010
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Technology has brought the functional photocopy machine (also referred to as a copy or Xerox machine) for our everyday use. Copiers are efficient because they can scan, print, copy, staple, separate, perform double-sided printing and store important documents, files and pages. They haven't always been so highly developed, though. James Watt actually created one of the first office copiers in 1779. His photocopy device back then used moistened paper, special ink and a press to duplicate text.

Many years later, between 1938 and 1944, Chester Carlson tried to perfect his prototype by placing a zinc plate covered in sulfur below a light source. His invention was inspired from a need to make so many copies of pages for his job at the New York patent office. Even more ideas stemmed from the need for copiers. As a matter of fact, back in the day, even ancient carbon paper was also eventually replaced with photocopiers from Xerox in 1949.

A photocopier of today uses 5 basic elements to transfer or copy the text or photos from an original paper to a blank sheet of paper.

Charging: A photoconductive material is effected on a cylindrical drum that, when exposed to light, becomes electrostatically discharged.

Exposure: The same photoconductive drum is used for the negative or white space of the document to mirror or reflect onto. The text of that same document then receives a negative charge from not being exposed to that light and this produces the black text you see.

Developing: Image a balloon being rubbed and gaining a static charge. If you put it anywhere near your hair, your hair will be attracted to the balloon and "stick" to it. A toner is used to because it is positively charged or charged in a opposite polarity. This positive charge is needed for photocopiers because it is attracted to the negative charge or the black areas.

Transfer: The image that appears on the drum is then moved to the paper because the image that is seen from a copier is more negatively charged than the surface of the drum.

Fusing: And finally, heat is used to bond the toner and ink to the blank paper.

Other areas of copiers have been either using analog or digital. There are many different advantages and disadvantages. Photocopiers have gone from analog, which is less expensive, more energy efficient and very reliable. The progression of copiers has lead to the invention of digital photocopiers which are more popular because they store the original document's image, take less time to heat up and can even email or fax the copies. Both versions have great things to boast, but analog will more than likely be a rare since technology is advancing toward digital today.

In the 21st century, photocopiers are used everywhere from government offices, schools, post offices, gas stations, libraries and many other places that employ the need to make copies. Time has brought much great advancement for photocopiers to make our lives easier and more productive.


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Jennifer Robinson writes for OnlineConnect.co.uk a online photocopier company offering a massive range of discount digital copiers for sale lease or rental.

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