A Dutch startup company called Inkless is promising something that could turn the office-imaging industry upside-down: printing without using black ink or toner. While printing without ink or toner has been around for some time, it requires the use of special coated paper that’s much costlier than traditional papers. In contract, the researchers at Inkless state that its laser-printing technology may be used with traditional un-coated paper.
Inkless, which is a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands, says the cost of printer consumables “are now definitely a thing of the past” with its new technology.
“Every year 14 billion dollars worth of black ink cartridges and toners are sold worldwide. Our technology makes these cartridges and toners completely obsolete,” says Co-Founder Arnaud van der Veen. “With inkless printing, we can completely turn the print market upside-down.”
Co-founder Arnaud van der Veen states, “Inkless has now met the quality standards of conventional printing techniques, among other things, on the resolution and printing speed. Our inkless-printing technology offers many advantages. Cartridges, toners, or special coatings on paper are no longer required, which leads to a significant environmental benefit.
Van der Veen explains that with the Inkless laser-printing method, paper is carbonized, noting however that if this was done with thin material, such as paper, the paper would be quickly burned, the printing wouldn’t be permanent, and wouldn’t be black enough. Inkless, however, says it has much better control over the carbonization process, which means it doesn’t have to print as deep, and therefore doesn’t damage the paper. It also says its technology ensures that the print is black enough and also permanent. User are said to be able to print texts, images, and graphics on paper, labels, and packaging surfaces.
Van der Veen explains that its printing technology is suitable for use with office and consumer printers, production printers (for transactions, mail, books, etc.), and coding and marking printers (for printing expiration dates, barcodes, etc.).
While there aren’t printers currently on the market that use the Inkless printing system, Van der Veen says Inkless wants to bring the technology to market “as quickly as possible, that it’s “currently exploring the possibilities of cooperating with one or multiple large printing companies,” and that it’s already in contact with a few companies.
Inkless’ Van der Veen notes that this consumable-free printing provides various advantages besides lower costs for customers, including various environmental benefits that include elimination of discard ink and toner cartridge, and elimination of consumables’ production.
The one big drawback of course is that there’s no printing in color. But nevertheless, down the line when and if the technology is commercially available, printing without having to pay for ink or toner will be mighty appealing for many.