Can Copies Be in Color?

By Kevin Freeman

  • Overview

    Gone are the days when only commercial facilities could produce color copies. Modern technology now allows people to produce bright, vivid, full color copies in their homes and offices. Color copiers are now widely availably in many shapes and sizes, and with a number of modern features, each of which will play a large role in selecting a color copier or color copying service.
  • History

    The copy machine has progressed a very long way since its inception, most significantly with the introduction of xerography to produce perfect copy images in black and white. Xerography uses the light that passes through an existing paper around the dark images to charge the surface of a rotating barrel within the machine. The barrel's surface only becomes charged by the light particles that are able to pass through in the exact shape of the image, thus allowing oppositely charged toner to bond to those exact parts of the barrel's surface in the shape of the desired image. That image is then rolled or melted onto a blank piece of paper, producing an exact copy of the original.
  • Significance

    When xerography allowed mass copies to be made at reasonable prices for consumers, the next step in the process was naturally to move toward a color toner or ink system instead of that which uses simple black and white. The first color copying system to be widely used was one that involved dye sublimation. Sublimation simply caused the color substance to transform directly from a solid to a gas state, allowing it to be directed onto paper in a precise manner. The next step was to revert to the more efficient electrostatic method using toner and barrel technology and adding colored toner to the process.

  • Considerations

    One of the main considerations when choosing between a sublimation copier and an electrostatic copier is the consumption level of the toner or ink. Sublimation offers a much broader range of color shades and creates more accurate copies, but up to 95 percent of the substance used is wasted. Electrostatic copiers are much more efficient, but they produce much less precise images. For most, the difference is slight enough that an electrostatic unit is still more desirable than a sublimation copier.
  • Features

    The main features that modern color copiers now offer are speed, accuracy, size, material consumption, and range of capabilities. The fastest copiers available produce massive amounts of copies in the time that it takes a very accurate and detailed copier to produce only one copy. On the other hand, there are also copiers that offer various options such as photo quality prints that are slower and consume more ink or toner, or lower grade prints that consumer less materials and can be output at a much higher rate. Also, the size of the copier must be considered as the larger models can offer more features and speed enhancements while the smaller ones naturally have only so much room for the extras. Some copiers also offer additional features such as operation as a fax machine, scanner, or computer printer to streamline office tasks and reduce the need for outsourcing.
  • Expert Insight

    If an extremely high quality range of images will be desired frequently, the most widely available and effective choice will be to use either a digital or a laser copy machine. Thanks to the steady advancement of modern technology, digital copiers can scan each tiny detail of an image and commit the information to its short term memory, allowing a virtually perfect color image to be reproduced as needed with very fine detail. The laser copier has the capability to burn the image onto the paper at varying degrees of intensity, each level of which will finely adjust the shade of the colors in the image. While these processes can be very time consuming, those who seek the highest resolution and the most vibrant colors should look into digital or laser technology to produce the images they need.
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