Photocopy Machine

February 17, 2008 – 12:12 pm

An electronically duplicator that transfers an image onto plain paper (bond) is known traditionally as a photocopy machine.
A positive charge is given to a copier drum. The drum is now illuminated with the image and a potential image is thus formed. Toner is attracted to the drum with the force of static electricity and in this way an image is formed which can be seen with the naked eyes. Now the technique of positive charge is used to transfer the toner onto the bond paper. The operation is completed with the transfer of the photo. The paper is now automatically removed from the surface of the drum. Excess toner is wiped clean by a special blade. Exposure of the drum to a neon lamp erases leftovers of the static charge.
Wide availability and relatively cheaper costs has made it possible to print out many numbers of books that are relatively small. Today there are many varieties of photocopy machines in the market. Images can be reduced or enlarged. Coloured copies can be made and the machine can also perform collating, stapling and gluing.
Photocopy machines are mainly of two types – the xerographic machine and the electrostatic one. Both of these more or less perform the same function but in a somewhat altered manner. As soon as the start button is pressed on the copier it gets to work by taking the help of a series of mirrors as well as lenses. A tube starts rotating and the image is projected onto it. This results in the collection of electrostatic charge on the tube. In other words a pattern corresponding to the page that is being copied forms on the tube. At this point a kind of dust, known as toner coats the tube. It sticks to those parts of the tube that are charged. When a sheet of bond paper is pressed on the tube and the toner, the image is transferred on to it. The image is darker than the original one. The toner is now heated or baked to complete the process of exact copying.
The electrostatic photocopier does the same thing but instead of the tube a sensitive and light paper is used. The image is thus projected straight onto the paper causing a pattern of the charge to be produced. Then it is covered with the toner and heated to give the final result.
In 1937, Chester Carlston, an attorney who dealt with patents, invented in New York a process named electro-photography. In 1938 it was given another name – xerography. The first photocopier was the “10-22-38 Astoria”. In due course this process of copying made big strides to be crowned one of the major inventions of the age. The world gave due recognition to Carlson and he became a very wealthy person by creating an industry that ran into billions of dollars. He gave away huge chunks of his income to charity before his passing away in 1968. Initially xerography did not catch the imagination of the world. After a time gap of ten years Carlson could kick off a manufacturing company to develop it. Haloid Company, based in New York picked up the gauntlet and did not look back. It changed its name to something more appropriate – Xerox Corporation. In 1955 was manufactured the first xerox machine that was automatic. In 1958 the model was perfected to be more practical. It took another 22 years before the world was introduced with the commercial model based on push-button technology – 914. In three years the company that was selling 2 million in 1960, went on to market 22 million in 1963. By the next two decades the company had introduced two-dozen products. The snag was that the Xerox was not technically the photocopier. It was the latter that now threw the challenge and thus began one of the major battles in the market. Despite the fine points of difference, it cannot be denied that the photocopier is an adaptation of the Xerox. In Xerox can be found the crude beginnings of the photocopier.
In 1955 Ricoh was making its appearance as a serious contender for the crown. It introduced the RiCopy 101 Diazo copier. The coveted RiCopy DT 1200 hit the shelves in 1975 and made the position of Xerox uncomfortable. Others joined in the fray with small office models – Minolta, Panasonic, Konica, Sharp, Toshiba and Canon. Kodak and Oce challenged Xerox in the field of bulk copier market.
Customers however remained loyal to Xerox. To break it down the newcomers took to ever-new marketing strategies. Xerox was a global giant. But the others became local with vehemence! Local service cells sprang up at every street corner. By 1985 Cannon had snatched the crown in the kingdom of photocopies and sailed on to introduce the first copier that was coloured. Xerox replied by changing the terminology from ‘xeroxing’ to ‘photocopying’. Xerox continues to be a respected name but it is no longer the flag runner. It had neglected its core to diversify into the computer market. Had they not done so the photocopier market today might have been tinged with a different colour.
Xerox sent out of circulation the copies made by carbon, Photostat process, mimeograph and different other types of duplicating machines. But now the age of paperless office has been stealing the march with the digital age. Nevertheless its use cannot be completed replaced. Like typewriters and computer printers, the photocopiers too invariably have some inherent unavoidable defect that helps forensic specialists to track down offenders.

Photocopy is subject to copyright restrictions in most of the countries. For purposes of research the student is allowed to photocopy some chapters. There are some governments that charge royalty for every copy made.
Health is another issue that cannot be ignored in the matter of photocopies. Exposure to ultraviolet rays causes concern. So far, the solution is through the installing of a filtering process but the matter cannot be left lying and needs constant probing.

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