Xerox, the printer manufacturer, is looking to cut printing costs by using graphene. The company has filed a patent to use graphene as a component in printing primers. Printing primers are sheets containing print, commonly used in newspaper production. The primer is a template that is used to imprint the final paper copies of the newspaper.
US Patent Application number 20120288788 describes a durable, transparent primer consisting of graphene and a type of plastic called phenoxy. The printer type described in the application uses electrostatics to disperse the toner ink. Graphene is used as an electric conductor within the primer. The invention also relies on the exceptional mechanical strength of graphene, claiming primers with a higher durability to existing ones, typically made of carbon black. Higher durability will lead to longer lifetimes, resulting in lower printing costs.
In addition, the graphene primer is highly transparent, relaxing constraints imposed on the opaque carbon black primers. A higher transmission of the primer could enable the use of cheaper transmission-type printing systems in place of more complicated reflection-type ones. Graphene only absorbs about 2% of incident light.
Xerox has patents on electrostatic toners dating back to the late seventies. The fact that the current application belongs to a family of printer patents from an established company, together with the detailed descriptions of the device, make us take this one very seriously. The invention is probably one of those graphene applications that will enter the market silently but with a strong impact on the printers market, promising to cut printing costs by using a more durable primer.