Sharp MFP History

  • * Based on Sharp research (at the time).
  • Note: This page is based on information at the time of the products’ release.

1972–The birth of Sharp copiers

Sharp’s very first copier—a wet-process copier using the indirect electrostatic charge method

In 1964, Sharp released its very first desktop calculator. But as the calculator business grew, more and more Sharp office equipment retailers said they couldn’t be competitive selling only calculators amidst the advancing automation of offices and that they needed to be selling copiers as well. In 1969, Sharp gathered six employees of its industrial equipment R&D department, who the next year embarked on new product development. This was the beginning of Sharp’s copier business.

At that time, small groups of employees worked on new technologies with a hearty spirit of challenge, making for a corporate culture marked by high motivation to create new technologies. Although only a few employees had experience with the electrofax method, Sharp forged ahead in development by using information from academic societies and other organisations and conducting in-house study on the theories behind electrophotography.

The processes from design to pre-manufacture went relatively smoothly, but developers ran into a huge wall in the final stage. For a long time, they could not get consistent images on paper and copy quality was either good or very bad. The problem lay not with the mechanism but rather with the paper grain, or the direction of fibres in paper. The development team was unfamiliar with long grain and short grain in paper.

In commercialising Sharp’s first copier, the SF-201, the development staff learned a lesson that would serve them well: you can’t make a good copier by only looking at mechanisms.

The SF-201 was a wet-process copier using the indirect electrostatic charge method. In the four years after it was released, it spawned 10 more models in the series, testament to this product’s high quality.


Sharp’s first plain-paper copier—the industry’s first copier with an IC chip*

The SF-710 was exactly what one would expect from electronics manufacturer Sharp: it was both a plain-paper copier (PPC)—a first for the company—and a copier that operated under electronic control, an industry first. The SF-710 marked the first-ever attempt to incorporate IC control into the PPC mechanism, and the development process encountered a series of problems. But Sharp’s engineers were in the end able to boost the machine’s reliability and the product was widely lauded.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

The SF-710 was also recognised outside Japan for its spirit of innovation. As early as 1974, Sharp began supplying it to a leading European manufacturer on an OEM basis.


Industry’s first copier to use a mono-component toner pressure fusing system*

A plain-paper copier requires sophisticated technology for the fusing process. Sharp came up with a pressure fusing system that fused mono-component toner onto paper using a large amount of pressure. Overcoming numerous problems, the SF-730 was born—the industry’s first copier using mono-component toner. It gained the development team valuable know-how in pressure-control mechanisms.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).


Industry’s first desktop plain-paper copier with a stationary platen*

The SF-810’s features were ground-breaking at the time. Its desktop size with a stationary platen caused quite a sensation at a time when large console-type copiers were the mainstream. It incorporated a new developing process, photoconductor drum, heated-roller fusing mechanism, and twin paper trays. Subsequent midrange mass-market copiers were modelled after the SF-810.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).


Best-selling copier enabled copying onto postcards—an industry first*

Sharp marketed the SF-740 as having a feature no other competitor could imitate—the ability to copy onto postcards. Adding a postcard copying function to the highly reliable mechanism of the SF-710 made the SF-740 a best-selling copier. This helped Sharp make a name for itself as a company that continuously came out with cutting-edge copiers. Conventionally, the optical lightproof box had been made with aluminium die-casting but Sharp adopted sheet metal—an industry first*. Other copier manufacturers later began using this method.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

1980–Going for industry firsts

World’s smallest and lightest copier*—won the top share in the U.S. market

Sharp embarked on development of the SF-770 and SF-750 with the goal of making the world’s smallest and lightest copiers. It realised this goal with both models thanks to the company’s proprietary expertise in electronics and extensive know-how in making products smaller and lighter.

In 1981, Sharp recorded its highest number of copier installations ever in all copier categories in the U.S. The dominant players in this success were the SF-770 and SF-750. The SF-750 in particular was extensively marketed to dealers across the country as a legal-size copier, earning their accolades and taking the market by storm, in the process catapulting Sharp to the leading share of the U.S. copier market.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).


World’s smallest* B4 copier with cartridge-type consumables

A copier in every home, a copier in every department—the Z-60 made this kind of individual use possible. This was illustrated by the Z-60’s size, price, and cartridge-type consumables, which allowed users to easily replace toner and developer cartridges. Subsequent Z series copiers carried on these unique features.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).


Sharp’s first copier with an OPC drum—won a Best Buy award in the U.S.

The first in a line of new medium-speed copiers, the SF-8200 was Sharp’s first copier with an OPC drum. It won a Best Buy award in 1986 from the U.S. publication What to Buy. It also received commendations from specialised testing authorities like Data Pro and Buyers Laboratory Inc. (BLI)*, an independent U.S. organisation that tests document imaging equipment.

* Buyers Lab (BLI) is currently a division of Keypoint Intelligence.


Sharp’s first full-colour analogue copier that achieved high-quality colour copying

The CX-7500 was an analogue machine that offered both B/W and high-quality colour copying in one. Office users could now make full-colour copies with the same ease as with a conventional B/W copier, at an output speed among the best in its class.


Industry’s first copier with space-saving automatic rotating drawers*

The automatic rotating drawer was invented as a way to save the hassle of switching paper trays. The development team’s revolutionary thinking resulted in the SF-8300. Instead of having users switch paper trays, the SF-8300 automatically selected long-edge or short-edge feeding and rotated the sheets within the paper drawer. With its front-loading paper replenishing and automatic rotating drawers, the SF-8300 was a further step in making copiers even more space-efficient.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

1990–Shift from copiers to MFPs

20th anniversary model—reliable, high-performance copier

The SF-2027/2022 marked Sharp’s 20th anniversary in the copier business. The product was Sharp’s pride and joy—a culmination of 20 years of technological development. Significantly reduced first copy times and high job efficiency boosted productivity while a low-noise, space-saving design contributed to a pleasant office environment. These and other features allowed the machine to flexibly meet diversifying copying needs. It was also lauded for its high levels of functionality and reliability. Half a year later, Sharp released the SF-2035, featuring a large LCD with easy-to-understand onscreen information (guidance, help mode) that greatly boosted ease of use.


A 76-ppm high-speed duplicator made for productivity

The SD-2075 marked a giant leap for Sharp from copiers to the world of duplicators. Besides its fast 76-ppm speed, it boasted Sharp’s proprietary advanced RDH (recirculating document handler) mechanism and finisher to provide superior copy productivity and job efficiency. It also utilised innovative features such as Sharp’s air-feeding mechanism for precise paper feeding and a computer form feeder function. The product was designed with a focus on stability, making possible reliability that ensured minimal machine downtime.


Featuring an advanced air-feed system

The SD-2060 was the first copier in its class to incorporate an air-feed system*. This paper-feeding mechanism used pneumatic pressure to allow paper to travel smoothly and not get damaged. The copier was also equipped with an RADF (reversing automatic document feeder), which boosted efficiency for large-volume copy jobs. The follow-up model, the SD-3062, featured an RDH (recirculating document handler) and a built-in finisher to further improve copying efficiency.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).


Sharp’s first digital copier, which pioneered the computer networking era

The AR-5040 was Sharp’s first digital copier and featured an electronic sorting function. Originals are scanned directly into the copier’s large-volume hard disk, and from there collated sets of copies are produced. The AR-5040 ushered in the era of digital copiers—machines that use a scanner to scan documents and lasers to reproduce the scanned images.


Sharp’s first digital copier that combined copy and fax functions in one unit

Digital technology brought faster output and higher print quality to copiers. It also transformed copiers into multifunctional machines. In 1995, Sharp released the AR-5030F/FR—a copier and fax machine in one. Such two-in-one copiers went mainstream in the Japanese market. Meanwhile, the market came to demand office machines that were highly productive yet environmentally friendly. In response, Sharp released products with an energy-saving mode.


Sharp’s first digital MFP, which transformed office workflow

The widespread use of personal computers became a major turning point in business. In response, Sharp released the AR-5132, a digital copier that also worked as a printer. Users were able to set things like the number of copies, sorting, and stapling from their PC desktop, enabling them to efficiently produce high-quality business documents.


Digital full-colour MFP with high-speed colour tandem engine

Sharp’s release of the AR-C150 signalled a major move into the full-colour MFP market. This machine was equipped with a newly developed tandem engine, which allowed fast colour output of 15 ppm (A4 long-edge feeding) and a first copy time of 10.5 seconds (the industry’s fastest*). The tandem engine had previously been adopted only on high-price models, but Sharp was able to drastically cut costs so that it could be incorporated in mass-market models as well.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

2000–High performance yet environmentally friendly

2005MX-2700/2300 series
Balancing function and eco-friendliness—the foundation of today’s MFPs

In an aim to create the MFP for the 21st century, Sharp developed a new platform with a focus on providing solutions and eco-friendliness. Central to the new platform was resource-efficient Mycrostoner, which was first introduced for the MX-2700N (MX-2700FN), and Sharp OSA, which allowed the MFP to integrate with third-party applications. This platform achieved both environmental friendliness and high performance and is still being used in Sharp’s current MFPs.

The MX series, centred on the MX-2700N (MX-2700FN), won the 2006 Line of the Year award in the colour category as a result of rigorous testing by Buyers Lab (BLI)*, a leading independent U.S. organisation that tests document imaging equipment.

* Buyers Lab (BLI) is currently a division of Keypoint Intelligence.

2000AR-150 (AR-F151)

Compact, wingless design

The AR-150 was a three-in-one digital MFP with fax, copy, and print functions. Its paper output tray was placed underneath the copy platen, allowing a compact, ‘wingless’ design. The AR-150 was a digital pioneer for Sharp in the compact MFP market, and it paved the way for the development of later models in the series.

2001AR-507 (AR-S507)

Industry's first MFP to achieve Common Criteria*1 security certification*2

Features like large-volume scanning and confidential printing contributed to better productivity and security in the office. And a network scanner function made possible easy digitisation of paper documents. The optional AR-FR1/2/3 data security kit for this model was certified by an American certification authority for Common Criteria EAL2 (EAL: evaluation assurance level), making Sharp the first MFP company in the world to achieve this.

  • *1 Common Criteria (CC) is an international accreditation standard for evaluating security levels of hardware, software, and information systems. In 1999, it became the ISO/IEC 15408 international standard for IT security certification.
  • *2 Based on Sharp research (at the time).
2003AR-M276 (AR-266FG) series

Cost-effective, energy-efficient, and user-friendly A3 B/W MFP

Responding to market demands, Sharp equipped these models with a touchscreen LCD control panel—the first for a Sharp low-speed B/W machine. Acclaimed for being cost-effective, these models met various office needs with features like duplex printing, multi-bypass tray feeding, and sorting—all packed into a compact unit. As with Sharp’s higher-end models, this series had an optional AR-FR12 data security kit certified for Common Criteria* EAL3+ (EAL: evaluation assurance level). This boosted Sharp’s reputation as a brand committed to security. The AR-M276 series was also designed for energy efficiency—for example, it had lower standby power consumption.

  • * Common Criteria (CC) is an international accreditation standard for evaluating security levels of hardware, software, and information systems. In 1999, it became the ISO/IEC 15408 international standard for IT security certification.
2004AR-M450 (AR-450M)

Industry’s first MFP to achieve Common Criteria*1 EAL4 security certification*2

Following EAL2 (EAL: evaluation assurance level) in 2001, Sharp earned another Common Criteria certification. In 2004, the optional AR-FR4 version M.20 data security kit for the 2001-launched AR-M450 (AR-450M) was certified for EAL4. This made Sharp the first company in the industry to achieve EAL4, a higher security assurance level. This model became an industry-leading digital MFP thanks to its enhanced security features.

  • *1 Common Criteria (CC) is an international accreditation standard for evaluating security levels of hardware, software, and information systems. In 1999, it became the ISO/IEC 15408 international standard for IT security certification.
  • *2 Based on Sharp research (at the time).

B/W MFP with super-fast 110-ppm output made for speed and efficiency

Sharp pulled out all the stops to achieve the highest possible productivity in the MX-M1100. In addition to super-fast 110-ppm output (A4 long-edge feeding), it could be equipped with a saddle unit or saddle stitch finisher for automated production of booklets. A folding unit that allowed automated Z-folding was optionally available. It also allowed continuous runs—no need to stop the MFP for toner replenishment during a print job.


Full-colour MFP for convenience stores, featuring industry’s first calendar-making function*

This was Sharp’s first-generation multifunctional copier for convenience stores in Japan. It offered a variety of services, including an industry-first calendar printing function, PDF/image printing, network printing, and faxing. A dye-sublimation printing system allowed high-quality printing of photographs. And Sharp’s first cloud-based convenience store platform enabled online updates, billing management, and other cloud-based services.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

2008MX-2600N (MX-2600FN)

Mycrostoner-HG brings a new generation of image quality

The MX-2600N (MX-2600FN) used newly developed Mycrostoner-HG, a toner that minimised graininess for clear, super-fine output. A large 8.5-inch WVGA colour LCD touchscreen boosted ease of use. The LCD displayed thumbnails of incoming faxes and files saved onto the MFP so users could print only what they needed, thus reducing wasteful paper use. These and other features earned it a Highly Recommended award from Buyers Lab (BLI)*, a leading independent U.S. organisation that tests document imaging equipment. Starting with this model, Sharp changed the exterior surface to feature a textured pattern. This new design complemented office interiors and became a trademark of Sharp MFPs for years to come.

*Buyers Lab (BLI) is currently a division of Keypoint Intelligence.

2010–Responding to diversifying office needs

MFP with large 10.1-inch colour LCD touchscreen for intuitive operation

The MX-2610N (MX-2610FN) arose from the concept of making high-end digital functions easier to use. The 10.1-inch colour LCD touchscreen, which was among the largest for its class at the time, allowed users to make finger flicks and other smartphone-like gestures to easily carry out operations like print previews and changing document page order. With its advanced environmental performance and solution-geared functions, it was a machine that showed new possibilities for MFPs.

2012MX-7040N (MX-6540FN)

Top-line colour MFP, made to meet various office needs with high image quality and superb productivity

This model was created as Sharp’s top-line digital full-colour MFP. It featured business efficiency-boosting productivity, intuitive operation even for MFP novices, and excellent image quality. It could also staple, saddle stitch, C-fold, or double-fold documents. It proved its worth in corporate centralised reprographic departments (CRDs) thanks to its automated document finishing capabilities.


Fastest colour MFP that opened up the market for on-demand printing

The MX-7500N/6500N was a flagship colour model designed to meet light production needs—a first for Sharp. It was Sharp’s fastest-ever model and opened up the market for corporate centralised reprographic departments (CRDs), copy centres, and other such on-demand printing services. The 15.4-inch head-up LCD touchscreen allowed users to easily manage jobs via EFI’s Fiery® Command WorkStation® software—right from the LCD. The MFP also featured in-line full-bleed booklet making—a Sharp proprietary function.


A4 full-colour MFP packed with high-performance features in a compact size

The MX-C300W was a desktop A4 colour digital MFP packed with the same high-performance features found on large full-size MFPs. Its compact size was the smallest in the industry*, and its built-in wireless LAN connectivity allowed it to be placed almost anywhere in the workplace. Thanks to such features, the MFP could be put to work in a variety of settings—SOHO, store counters‚ event venues—and contributed to boosting workflow efficiency.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

2015MX-3050N (MX-2650FN)

Full-colour MFP with enhanced ease of use

The MFP featured Easy UI mode, in which frequently used functions were shown as large, simple icons on the LCD control panel. The MFP also connected with various cloud services, allowing users to directly access those services from the MFP to upload scanned data or print directly from them. It got high marks for its stylish, interior-complementing design and the simple UI, and the MX-2650FN for the Japanese market won a Good Design Award 2016 (organised by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion). It also had enhanced security, which resulted in it obtaining Common Criteria*1 security certification conforming to the Protection Profile for Hardcopy Devices v1.0 (HCD-PP)—an industry first*2—in 2017. 

  • *1 Common Criteria (CC) is an international accreditation standard for evaluating security levels of hardware, software, and information systems. In 1999, it became the ISO/IEC 15408 international standard for IT security certification.
  • *2 Based on Sharp research (at the time).

Business-essential functions packed into compact, stylish design

The unique black-and-white two-tone colouring and simple cubic form made the BP-20C25/10C20 quite striking and earned the BP-10C20 an iF Design Award 2020. Four functions—copier, printer, scanner, and fax—were combined into one compact unit measuring just 560 x 560 mm. This gave it one of the smallest footprints in the industry* and allowed it to be placed almost anywhere.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).


Next-generation multifunction copier with industry-first sticker printing* and easy onscreen operation

The MX-3631DS was designed for convenience stores in Japan. In addition to printing on postcards and photo paper, it allowed printing on adhesive paper—a first in the convenience store industry. It had a large, easy-to-view 15-inch colour LCD touchscreen, and the control panel could be tilted freely at various angles, allowing easy operation even for wheelchair users. The machine also allowed printing via QR codes. It featured Network Print for Biz, a printing service for businesspeople on the go or teleworking, and For Biz Scan, a service to digitise paper-based documents and upload them to the cloud. It could also print out content provided by third parties (such as photo portraits of celebrities, newspapers, musical scores, and maps) and was compatible with public administrative services. Such features made the MX-3631DS an evolution of the copier into a service platform terminal.

* Based on Sharp research (at the time).

2022Helping people work smarter

2022BP-70C45 series
Sharp’s latest colour MFP—the culmination of 50 years of Sharp document technologies

On the 50th anniversary of its document solutions business, which started in 1972, Sharp revamped the digital full-colour MFP line-up and released the BP-70C45 series. The new line has a stylishly designed control panel with capacitive touchscreen LCD.

The MFP also has enhanced cloud connectivity to accommodate teleworking. It supports Microsoft Teams, a collaboration tool used by many companies. Such features allow smooth information sharing with colleagues in remote locations and streamlining of business operations.

A further evolution in scan functions facilitates smooth data sharing. The MFP incorporates AI to determine things like colour gradation so that it can automatically select the optimal scan mode without having the user make scan settings. The MFP also has stronger security, such as firmware and BIOS protection. All these add up to an MFP series worthy of the 50th anniversary.