Move over ink, finally you have competition

The developers of a laser printing system that needs no ink say it could revolutionise the industry, making printing both cheaper and more sustainable.

WADDINXVEEN, THE NETHERLANDS (JANUARY 20, 2017) (REUTERS) – A Dutch university spin-off says its laser printing system could revolutionise the industry, making printing both cheaper and more sustainable, according to its developers.

Tocano’s ‘Inkless’ printing technology enables monochrome printing without cartridges, toners or any other consumables using only a beam of laser light.

In the past laser printing required special paper coated with thermochromic ink that changes colour when temperatures increase or decrease.

‘Inkless’ printing requires no coated paper and no ink at all, according to its inventor and Tocano technical co-founder, Venkatesh Chandrasekar.

“As a child you might have played using a magnifying glass like a lens, to burn on paper, using the sun’s energy by focusing it down, we do pretty much the same thing. Instead of using solar energy we just use a powerful laser source and then we focus the energy of the laser into a text or characters or any images that we want to print. So we are basically using the same principle of carbonising, which is basically converting paper fibres into carbon, and that way we get a fully black, permanent print quality, which is the same as normal printers,” Chandrasekar said.

Delft University of Technology helped Tocano’s co-founders, both former students, overcome two fundamental challenges of laser printing, carbonisation and cutting holes in the paper.

Tocano has solved and patented solutions to these problems, Chandrasekar said.

“We had to solve some fundamental challenges to make inkless printing possible, because if you would normally use a combination of laser and paper, what would happen is, you’d actually cut holes in the paper and also, the print will just come off, because it is just burned carbon, so these are two fundamental challenges which we had to solve so we can print with the same quality, without making holes and having a fully permanent print just like the normal printers,” Chandrasekar told Reuters.

Tocano is now looking for a partnership with a printer manufacturers to get its invention into mass production, with a target timescale of 2 to 3 years, according to business founder of Tocano, Arnaud Van der Veen.

“The benefit of our technology is that we can print without cartridges and toners, which means we don’t need consumables, that is of course a significant reduction of printing costs, printing more sustainable and printer which can print unlimited, because cartridges changing is never needed again,” Van der Veen said.

Tocano say its monochrome ‘Inkless’ system could be applied to production, packaging, office and consumer printers and could be combined with colour cartridges for full colour printing in the near future.