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A photocopier is an electronic machine designed to make reproductions of documents. The first photocopiers used an early process of making copies called xerography. This process, utilizing a dry powdered chemical called "toner," was introduced by Xerox in the 1960s. Xerography is still used in many modern copiers. In fact, the basic technology has changed very little in nearly 50 years.
Today, xerography faces challengers as laser and inkjet copiers become commonplace. Their technology offers less expensive and lower maintenance copy machines at consumer price levels.
To duplicate a document, a photocopier uses a process that combines static electricity with a dry chemical called "toner." Toner is a powdered ink pigment bonded in plastic. When exposed to high heat, the plastic in the toner melts and releases the ink pigment to the paper.
To make a copy, a document is placed on a sheet of clear glass located above the lamp. When the process is started, the lamp (a bright fluorescent or incandescent light) is drawn across the glass to illuminate one strip of the document at a time. The light bounces off the document onto a special rotating drum that is coated in a light-sensitive material. The pattern of the reflected light on the drum becomes charged with static electricity.
The toner sticks to the pattern on the drum until the paper rolls over it. At that point, the toner is transferred to the surface of the paper. The paper, its surface now coated with powdered toner, is passed through a very hot fuser where the toner is permanently fused into the fibers of the paper creating a single copy. To make multiple copies, the entire process repeats itself again.
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