gap intelligence prides ourselves on the GFD (great freakin’ data) we provide for our clients. One of the many services we provide is our World-Wide Dealer Cost Report; this report compares photocopier pricing from different brands we track. We research this pricing from countries such as Europe, Mexico, Australia, and Canada along with our U.S. Dealer Cost Report. We gather the best and most valuable market intelligence on the bleeding edge of copier and printer market trends.

A Staple in the Office

Photocopiers and printers play a big role in our day to day life in large corporations as well as in small businesses in a myriad of industries like government, medical, and education. Industry Analyst Lisa Brown’s latest blog about copier dealers highlighted a huge shift in the market:

“Most of the dealer channel has shifted sales strategies towards selling an increased number of smaller-sized and decentralized A4 devices to support the newly emerged remote workforce.”

Photocopiers and printers are major tools that help us carry out different tasks. They have also become part of our pop culture as several comedy skits have been written around copiers in office settings from Saturday Night Live to the The Office.

With that said, I would like to share the magical creation of the photocopier and how it works just in case this ever sparked your interest. Here is the short and sweet version.

Copier illustration

How it Works

When you place a document that you want to be copied, you place it upside down on the glass and press the start button. Once you press that button an intense beam of light scans across the document from top to bottom. This light then gets reflected and falls on the photo sensitive drum.

Where the Magic Happens

This photosensitive drum is a metal roller which is electro statically charged by a high voltage wire called the corona wire. This metal drum is coated with a photo sensitive chemical called selenium. Selenium is a semiconductor just like silicon and semiconductors have had a monumental impact on our society. You find semiconductors at the heart of microprocessor chips as well as transistors. The rules of semiconductors are dictated by quantum physics. I will explain why; electrons in a semiconductor can only be in certain energy states, and you can use these energy states to create on and off switches. In the case of the photocopier the chemical of selenium has the property to act as an insulator in dark areas and when light falls on it, it conducts electricity.

When a beam of light was scanned across the document light got reflected from the white areas (where there is no text.) The text being black in color did not reflect any light. When this reflected light falls on the photo sensitive drum the areas of the photo conductor which was exposed to the light becomes conductive and gets discharged. Whereas the area of the drum which was not exposed to light remains negatively charged. This would be similar to a negative from a film roll. Remember those?

Toner at Work

This causes an electrical shadow of the page on the photo sensitive drum. As the photo sensitive drum rotates, it carries this electrical shadow towards the toner. The toner is positively charged and this allows for the toner particles to stick to the electrical shadow which is negatively charged.

And voila! An inked image of the document is formed on the drum. From here a blank sheet of paper is fed up from the hopper as it moves along on the conveyer belt it is given a strong electrical charge. This allows for the toner image to be transferred from the surface of the drum onto a piece of paper. This paper then passes through two hot rollers. The heat and pressure from the rollers permanently fuses the toner particles on the paper and you have your document freshly printed.

Working Together

Light and dark, positive and negative charges or forces? This sounds a bit like a Star Wars movie. In the case of the photocopier all of these elements work together harmoniously to deliver the end product of a warm and fuzzy freshly printed document for all humanity to enjoy.

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