Paper Waste Eliminated by Printing Using Water

2014-09-25 08:07:28

Published on 2014-09-25 08:07:28

Offices around the world print pages and pages of documents every day that are discarded as quick as they are printed. According to estimates, nearly 40% of office prints are discarded after being read only once.


Attempting to reduce this waste is Dr Sean Xiao-An Zhang, a chemistry professor at China’s Jinlin University, who has created a paper that can print images and text when exposed to water. And what’s more: it’s reusable.


Dr Zhang’s new method does not require a specialised printer. Instead, ink in the cartridge can be replaced with water using a syringe. 'Water is a renewable resource and obviously poses no risk to the environment,' said Dr Zhang. The innovation lies within the paper. Dubbed ‘water-jet- technology’, the  re-writable paper is covered with invisible oxazolidines polymers and stays mark free until introduced to water, whereby the water breaks the bonds of the chemical coated surface. Once these bonds break, the oxazolidines change the way in which visible light is absorbed by the paper, thus creating an image on the surface.


Removing the image and returning the paper to its original state is simple: just wait. The paper returns to being blank somewhere between 22 and 24 hours at room temperature. For faster returns, the paper can be exposed to temperatures of 70°C to remove any marks in an impressive 30 seconds.


Dr Zhang demonstrated that the reusable paper can be erased over and over again, reusing the same piece of paper for multiple prints. This cuts down the cost and paper wastage of traditional printers. Dr Zhang comments:  "Based on 50 times of rewriting, the cost is only about one percent of the inkjet prints."


Still in the early stages of it’s development, only a small range of colours can be printed on the innovative new paper:  blue, magenta, purple and gold. But Dr Zhang and his team hope to improve the colour range, print resolution as well as the re-writing time itself. Whether or not this rewritable paper will replace traditional office inkjet printers and ink cartridges is unknown, but it is welcomed step towards reducing office costs and the environmental impact of businesses.


Posted by Wayne Hogan 


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