Un-printer concept (via Cambridge University)
So, how many of us have messed up a printing project only throw the paper away and start over?
All of us. The waste that is produced is tremendous as well as costly for business and the environment. Some ‘green’ conscious-minded researchers from Cambridge University have a solution that would save countless trees from a wasteful fate with the help of nano-pulsed laser technology, a printer eraser.
Dr. Julian Allwood and David Leal-Ayala, both from the Low Carbon Materials Processing Group at Cambridge, have conducted a study on the removal of toner-based printing with the use of ultraviolet, visible or infrared lasers pulsed at varying time rates. The team used a total of ten test set-ups with each using a different level of power, laser and pulse duration along with standard copy paper printed on with HP LaserJet black ink. The lasers were then used to remove the ink on the paper, and the results were then scanned under an electron microscope and scrutinized to see which laser and pulse duration was the best at ink removal.
Segway: This kind of reminds me of the laser tattoo removal process some people under-go: end Segway.
Electron microscope scan of an erased "ex" from the printed "Text12" (via Cambridge University)
The pair found that a laser with the wavelength of 532 nano-meters (in the green light spectrum) with a pulse duration of 4 nano-seconds was the optimal range at which to remove the ink without setting the paper on fire or discoloration. Of course, Dr. Allwood states that they have had success at removing ink off of the same piece of paper three times over but says that any more risks paper damage or ‘yellowing’.
As it stands right now, the team thinks that the laser-pulsed ink-removal process could be implemented into next generation printers and copiers but have yet to talk to any companies regarding integration. As for how much paper could theoretically be saved using the laser-removal process? According to recycling-revolution.com the US throws out about 1 billion trees (or 4 tons) worth of paper each year which equates to a paper wall 12 feet high from New York to California.