A Laser Printer without Ink and Toner

What was that? Yes, a printer that will not use any ink or toner. This breakthrough technology is being developed at the University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands. The printer will make an impression on paper by making burn marks just like you would burn paper using a magnifying glass in sunlight. They are calling this kind of printing ‘Carbonisation.’

This printer will pass infra-red laser light through special magnifying glasses to burn the paper in a series of black dots. This is easier said than done as there are problems with making permanent burn marks as normally when paper is burnt, it produces soot marks that are easily rubbed off.

Venkatesh Chandrasekar, the leading innovator of this technology, says this will be possible because years of research have gone into coming up with a quality and color of ink and paper that will give blackness that is as the same as that of present ink and toner printing.

The researchers say one of the biggest challenges has been to get the right balance in laser beam intensity and structure and type of lances such that the beam makes only a burn mark but does not combust the paper. This can only be done by having the very uniform intensity of the laser beam on the area to be printed.

The intensity of the blackness of the print dot will be modulated by changing the pulse duration of the laser. Longer duration of the pulses at a certain spot will make a more intense burn dot. This has not been perfected and can be done in a trial and error. The user will set the required blackness to match black and white printing like done using ink and toner.

This Inkless and toneless technology is being commercialized by a company called Tocano. The company says it is optimistic of attracting players in the printing business. The technology has evident advantages that are very attractive for businesses and personal users alike.

The ink cartridge and laser toner will be eliminated such that businesses that do heavy printing will have a significant cost deleted from their budget. It is estimated that $14 billion is used for ink and toner. This is a significant reduction in costs seeing that this printer can print for an unlimited time using little else other than electric power.

There are also major environmental benefits in eliminating ink cartridges and toners which are very toxic when dumped after use. It is estimated that an ink cartridge could last up to 450 years before decomposing. This will take away a huge polluter of the environment.

Tocano says that their first focus are big industrial printers, for example, those who print on carton and cardboard boxes, or book printers.  The company will then move on to small office users and home users.