A compact toner filling machine that requires only 1/40 the installation space used by conventional machines. This compact new toner filling machine allows empty toner cartridges to be filled at sites closer to customers rather than at far-away plants, resulting in reduced transportation-related environmental impact and a shorter lead time.
Conventional toner filling machines have traditionally been large in size and designed to fill voluminous amounts of toner into cartridges at high speed. In recent years, however, toner types have become varied due to an increase in the number of product models driven by diversified customer needs and wider use of color models. The need to frequently switch the type of toner produced has resulted in increased energy consumption due to longer facility operation times, and increased amount of waste toner arising from toner mixing. This not only results in time loss, but also in increased costs and environmental impact.
To realize swift high-mix low volume production of toner products, cartridges need to be filled with toner powder mixed with an appropriate amount of air. The air inside the cartridges then needs to be removed while preventing the toner from leaking out. To achieve this process, the Ricoh Group developed a proprietary fluidization technology and a specialized nozzle, resulting in the successful development of a compact, low-cost toner filling machine.
Figure 1: Conventional toner filling machine (left) and small-sized toner filling machine (right)
Compared with the conventional toner filler systems, the new machine takes only 1/48 of the time to switch between product types, requires 1/42 of the capital investment, uses 1/4 of the electricity, has 1/4 of the CO2 emissions, and takes up 1/40 of the installation space. Being compact, this toner filling machine can easily be introduced into logistics bases and sales companies along with toner production bases, thereby allowing toner cartridges to be manufactured at and shipped from sites closer to customers in the same manner as at plants. This has resulted in a reduction in environmental impact from the transportation of cartridges collected from the market for reuse and a shorter lead time. The machine is currently in operation in five regions around the world; Japan, the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific and China.