Have you ever wondered about photocopiers? Have you ever wondered how you can insert a printed paper, and a copied paper magically ejects out? Well, it is not magic at all, but science. Specifically static electricity. Photocopiers use static electricity to copy the printed paper and transfer the machines ink to a blank page. Although Photocopiers may seem like magic, they simply use the science of static electricity to do wonders.

Some History of the Photocopier

The xerographic process, which was invented by Chester Carlson in 1938 and developed and commercialized by the Xerox Corporation, is widely used to produce high-quality text and graphic images on paper. Carlson originally called the process electrophotography. Carlsons first image, produced on October 22, 1938, was created with negatively charged yellowish moss spores (lycopodium) on a sulfur-coated zinc plate that had been positively charged by rubbing it with a handkerchief.


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How the Photocopier Works

The photocopier works using static electricity and the attraction of unlike charges. Inside the machine there is a rotating drum coated with a material that allows electricity to flow when light shines on it. The material is positively charged with static electricity.The light from the white areas of the item to be copied, shines on the drum and the charge flows away from the material. The black areas keep the negative charge, and attract the negatively charged powder, the toner, which is then transferred to the paper. That is how the ink is transferred to the paper and the paper is photocopied.

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How Photocopiers Work

It’s not ink

Photocopiers use toner, which is a mixture of plastic granules, rust, pigment, and wax. The granules accept a photostatic charge and are attracted to a photosensitive drum. This drum transfers images to paper. The toner is then sealed to the paper using a heat process. Ink, on the other hand, is placed on the paper through the use of tiny jets which push the liquid in a series of pulses.


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Graham, Ian. Science Encyclopedia. Bristol: Dempsey Parr, 1999. Print.

"The Photocopier." The Photocopier. N.p., 2002. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.

Parker, Barry. Physics. New York: Collins, 2007. Print.

"GCSE Science/Uses of Static Electricity." - Wikibooks, Open Books for an Open World. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.