Fuji Xerox has developed the technology to make lead-free shafts, a core component in copiers and printers.
The move comes in the wake of stricter standards on the use of lead and other potentially harmful substances. Fuji Xerox plans to gradually use the parts in new models as early as the beginning of 2008.
"This will be the first time globally that lead-free shafts will be used uniformly in printers and copiers," says Rob Abraham MD of Bytes Document Solutions, sole authorised distributor of Xerox products and solutions to 24 African countries.
The shaft is a rod-like part that rotates to move the paper in printers and copiers. Plastic bearings on each end support and turn the shaft. To prevent friction noise and maintain the life of the bearings, the surface roughness of the shaft must be less than one micron.
"To date, steel containing trace amounts of lead has been used as an alternative to lubricants to help the production process. But Fuji Xerox's shaft uses lead-free steel. "
The steel is polished, machine-worked and plated with the help of some 20 firms in Japan, China and South Korea. This has allowed Fuji Xerox to develop highly precise technology while keeping costs down.
The first new copier to feature the lead-free part will contain roughly 80 shafts. A single copier sports around 4kg of shafts, roughly 12 grams of which have typically consisted of lead.
In five years, nearly all copiers sold will feature lead-free shafts.