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Polymerised toner, an innovative choice

For more than a decade, Konica Minolta Business Technologies, principal supplier to Bidvest Company, Konica Minolta South Africa, has been focusing on the research and development of its environmentally conscious polymerised toner. So far, the company has made a noteworthy contribution to CO2 reduction and continues to pursue its environmentally friendly approach.

Polymerised toner is a high-performance toner produced by chemically combining a resin with colour pigment particles. Unlike the conventional pulverised toner, which is made by crushing lumps of petroleum based, industrially produced composites into small particles, the polymerised method enables precise control of the structure of each toner particle. This, in turn, makes it possible to tailor the size and shape of each particle and impart various properties.

According to product manager for office products at Konica Minolta South Africa, Andrew Griffith, the polymerised toner developed by Konica Minolta achieves a print product that exhibits a high-quality image while reducing environmental impact. “The company is continually working to upgrade its polymerised toner to realise an ever higher quality product,” he says.

Coined from the word symmetry, “Simitri” is the trademark for Konica Minolta polymerised toner and was first produced in 2000. Sales started in 2001 and production for all four colours began in 2002.

“This followed with the more advanced Simitri HD toner in 2006, which offers low temperature fusing with higher image quality. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2010, Konica Minolta introduces Simitri HD+ (plus) toner, which combines high productivity with high image quality,” says Griffith.

He says that the company’s Simitri HD and Simitri toners offer the environmental benefits of low energy consumption during production, less energy consumption during use, and reduced CO2 emissions during disposal through the use of plant-based resources from a carbon neutral viewpoint. “This reduces the impact on the environment from the production, usage to disposal phases in various ways,” he says.

Since first manufacturing polymerised toner in 2000, roughly nine percent of the raw material used to make Konica Minolta toners has been plant-based biomass, that is, renewable bio-organic resources other than fossil-derived resources. Furthermore, all four colours – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – have used plant-based resources since 2000, a great achievement in terms of innovation.

Griffith says that carbon footprint reduction is a critical focus area for Konica Minolta’s Eco-Vision 2050 strategy going forward. The vision aims to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions from its product’s lifecycle by 80 percent by 2050 (based on 2005 levels).

“For this reason, Konica Minolta is concentrating its efforts on using plant-based resources to reduce CO2 from a carbon neutral viewpoint,” he says.

Griffith explains that when copy paper is recycled, the toner is separated and then burned. When it is not recycled, the paper and toner are burned together. Either way, the toner emits CO2 during burning. However, as plant-based resources absorb the gas through photosynthesis before they become raw materials, the amount of CO2 absorbed will equal the amount emitted, so the Earth’s CO2 level will not increase and remains neutral. This is called “Carbon Neutrality”.

“CO2 emitted when burning petroleum resources cannot be absorbed. Therefore, replacing some of the petroleum with plant-based resources will help reduce these emissions,” he adds. “As of January 2010, a total of approximately 30,000 tonnes of Simitri HD and Simitri toners have been supplied worldwide, which means that the amount of CO2 emitted when burning used documents will convert to a reduction of approximately 8,400 tonnes of CO2. If you put that into perspective, 8,400 tonnes is the total amount absorbed by a 40.9 hectare forest of broad-leaved trees, aged between 45 and 50 years, since sprouting. That’s almost three times the size of South Africa’s Soccer City!”

Furthermore, the production methods of the toners have helped reduce other harmful emissions, such as sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide – pollutants that deplete the environment’s ozone layer, contribute to global warming, affect climate change and have a serious impact on health – by over a third.

“Capitalising on its development capabilities, Konica Minolta has adopted polymerised toner in nearly all of its printing products, from entry-level models to high-speed production printing machines, whether monochrome or colour. Today, 99.6 percent of Konica Minolta’s colour toners and 96.5 percent of its monochrome toners are polymerised - the highest rates in the industry, the industry average being only 57.2 percent for colour toners and 13.3 percent for monochrome toners,” says Griffith.

In addition, Simitri HD toner’s outstanding low-temperature fusing reduces power consumption during machine use too.

“When printing images, using MFPs and printers, the process of fusing the toner with heat and fixing it to paper consumes the most electricity. The small and uniform polymerised toner particles conduct heat more efficiently than pulverised toner particles, and their low fusing point also means that less electricity is consumed during the fusing process.

“The Simitri HD toner features a core-shell configuration, comprised of a thin outer layer of hard resin wrapped around a soft core of inner resin, to enable fusing at a lower temperature while also offering the thermostability required for high-speed printing. With such characteristics, polymerised toner has been adopted and used in many of Konica Minolta MFPs and printers. The small size of polymerised toner particles also helps reduce the amount of toner consumed when printing the image,” says Griffith.

Thus Konica Minolta’s polymerised toner products not only save energy, but also conserve resources.

In product development, concludes Griffith, it is Konica Minolta South Africa’s obligation to meet customer expectations with respect to product quality, environmental performance and economy. “Only then can our products earn the loyalty of our customers. Currently, we are continuing to work on ways to extend the service life of consumables such as the photoconductors used in MFPs and printers. Such efforts not only curtail the impact on the environment but also improve the convenience of our products for customers. Konica Minolta South Africa is moving forward with new developments, continuing to pursue high-quality printing and product convenience - all the while aiming to realise greater environmental benefits.”


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