Great Strides Forward In Printing
Every sector has its breakthrough moments that it can look back on and think how it changed the spectrum of the work involved in that industry.
Over recent months and years, the printing sector has certainly had its fair share of those to the point where technological developments are commonplace within printing.
Some may look on the main printing advancement of recent decades being a gradual shift which has taken printers from the size of a small room into some that aren't much bigger than your hand.
As impressive as these now are, especially when you add in apps and programmes governing connectivity as well as the onset of wireless printing, there are major scientific advancements being made in printing too.
First of all, take the example of the recent 'laser unprinter' which was unveiled at Cambridge University recently. Not only is this a fascinating foray into greener office practices but it could also have a practical use.
Essentially, researchers as the university managed to completely remove some of the toner from a printed piece of paper without damaging or tearing the sheet itself.
According to researchers, this 'unprining' technology could see toner-removing devices making much more of an appearance in offices around the country in the future, as well as homes.
Dr Julian M. Allwood from the university said: "What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype. Thanks to low-energy laser scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there."
The implications if this practice was to be put into production could be massive, the team claims and would range much further than savings companies money on paper costs.
They claim that by reducing the use of trees within the paper lifecycle, the process could save as much as an additional 50 to 80 per cent in carbon emissions over recycling.
The researchers posed the question of what would happen if paper was unprinted and reused rather than recycled. The answer they arrived at was by removing toner with a laser four steps could be removed from the paper production cycle.
These being forestry, pulping, paper making and disposal by incineration or landfill.
Dr Allwood added: "Material recovery through reusing eliminates the forestry step from the life cycle of paper and eradicates emissions arising from paper incineration or decomposition in landfill."
A significant move forward and undoubtedly one that will be remembered, as will the breakthrough made recently by researchers at Clemson University.
Their Bio Printer, which is essentially just a standard HP DeskJet 500, has actually managed to print living human cells.
Quite an incredible feat, with researchers managing to empty a normal ink cartridge of its contents before filling it with a mixture of both suspended cells and fluorescent matter.
This mixture is known as bio-ink and is then miraculously printed out onto the awaiting slides.
"We first had the idea for this method when we wanted to be able to visualize changes in the cytoskeleton arrangement due to applied forces on cells," said paper-author Dr Delphine Dean.
Once you add to these two advancements as well as the ever-growing presence of recyclable ink cartridges and the consumerisation of printing, these are a number of huge strides forward for the sector.
This consumerisation and increase of printing over the past few decades could cause some to argue that the sector has a responsibility to be as green and forward-moving as possible.
If the advancements can be built on, who knows what the printing industry could achieve not just for consumers and business, but for the wider world.
Posted by Fred Bugenhalgen.