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Black, blue & green

Toshiba TEC’s new e-STUDIO4508LP hybrid MFP series addresses the shortcomings of the company’s first generation Eco Copier

In the last issue of PrintIT, we gave the Toshiba TEC e-STUDIO4508LP hybrid MFP series an Editor’s Choice award for its environmental innovation and for the way in which Toshiba has developed and improved its erasable toner MFP since the first model was launched in 2013.

Notable enhancements on the three new models include the ability to print permanent and erasable documents on the same device and a built-in eraser, which removes the need for customers to buy and install a separate unit – though, as we explain below, there are good reasons why you might want to do that.

Since receiving the PrintIT award, the e-STUDIO4508LP series has received other accolades, including a Better Buys Q3 2017 Editor’s Choice Award.

Toshiba launched its new models just as the last issue was going to press, so we were only able to describe a few of the product’s main features. Below, with insight fromJeremy, we look in more detail at the rationale for hybrid MFPs and how Toshiba is making the devices more suitable for busy offices.

Changing habits
Print volumes, as everyone knows, are falling. However, the decline is not as steep as many predicted, largely because people still like to use paper as a medium for creating, developing, checking and, in certain contexts, sharing content.

So, if printing is still being done, where has all the paper gone? In many offices today, there just aren’t the banks of filing cabinets there used to be, nor the large piles of paper on every flat surface. What you do see more of are recycling bins. Today, this is where most prints end up.

Jeremy Spencer, marketing director of Toshiba TEC UK, cites a study by Keypoint Intelligence/Infotrends, which shows that only 25% of office workers print for permanent record/retention, with most retaining prints for just a few hours – 51% print because they prefer to edit on paper, 28% print for temporary reference and 12% print and then scan to email/workflow/cloud, after adding a signature for example.

“We conducted some research that revealed 45% of all printed documents end up in the bin on the day of creation,” he said.

The original Toshiba Eco Copier, the e-STUDIO 306LP, reduced the environmental impact of all these temporary documents by printing in blue, heat-sensitive toner that could be wiped clean in a separate unit. Because each sheet of paper could be printed, erased and re-used as many as eight times, the Eco Copier enabled organisations to reduce their paper consumption and carbon emissions associated with paper production, distribution and disposal.

This innovative device was an interesting talking point and a great way for an organisation to demonstrate its environmental awareness. It was also a luxury and an expense very few could justify, partly because it was an additional piece of hardware – two pieces of hardware when you include the separate eraser unit – rather than a replacement device. Customers would still need a traditional black toner device to print documents that needed to be kept or shared with others.

Hybrid print system
With the new e-STUDIO4508LP series, Toshiba has overcome this drawback by developing a hybrid printing system that offers both erasable printing (35ppm) and conventional black toner printing (35/45/50ppm) in a single device, with all the functionality and finishing capabilities you would expect from an A3 MFP. It has also added an erase function that removes the need for users to buy a separate eraser unit.

“The e-STUDIO5008LP series behaves exactly like our current mid-range mono MFPs,” explained Spencer. “But it also features the erasable technology unit. What this means is that users can print in both black and erasable blue, and the MFP itself is capable of erasing the toner. You simply place the used paper (A4 and A3) into the designated paper cassette and start the process. The blue toner will be erased and you can then reuse the paper multiple times providing financial and environmental benefits.”

Optional erasing unit
Toshiba still offers an optional unit for erasing, sorting and scanning up to 100 sheets at a time. This incorporates a single pass duplex scanner so that before they are erased temporary documents can be saved as JPEG, TIFF or PDF files and stored on a company’s server or in its document management system.

After digitisation, documents are erased through the application of heat, which turns the toner from blue to clear. The paper is then sorted into reusable and non-reusable stock and placed in the appropriate output cassette. The entire process – archiving, erasing, sorting – is done automatically and takes just a few seconds.

Rules-based printing
When it comes to printing, users can select whether to print in B&W or erasable blue toner, or they can let the machine decide for them.

Toshiba’s rules-based printing system enables administrators to apply multiple rules so that emails, for example, or faxes are automatically printed in blue toner. The machine’s ability to switch automatically from one mode to another depending on the application being used simplifies operation for end users and ensures that businesses maximise the environmental benefits of their investment.

Green benefits
These are potentially quite substantial. BSI, which verified that the e-STUDIO5008LP series meets ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) standards, compared five-year LCA calculations for the new MFPs to Toshiba TEC’s regular MFPs and found that printing and erasing a page with erasable blue toner five times cuts CO2 emissions by 57% compared to printing five black prints.

Spencer points out that there are also long-term financial benefits from reduced paper consumption and associated storage, distribution and disposal costs.

“There is a small cost premium on the price of the engine, but that’s easily outweighed by the resultant cost savings on paper,” he said. “Assuming that you use a sheet of paper five times and that you print 4,000 erasable pages per month, you can reduce paper consumption by up to 80%. This means that after five years you will have saved almost 200,000 sheets of paper. In other words, the same amount of paper that you would usually use in one year will now last five years.”

Users can track and monitor the benefits of their devices through e-BRIDGE Paper Reuse Reports.

A practical solution
The original Eco Copier was an interesting addition to Toshiba TEC’s range, even if it didn’t sell well. It is to Toshiba’s credit that they have further developed the technology and created a new series of MFPs that provides a more practical solution for eco-conscious businesses.

With further additions to the range likely to be launched in 2018, the e-STUDIO5008LP series is certainly worth a closer look.

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