Lasers could remove ink from printed paper, allowing for reuse

Summary:U.K. researchers are studying technology that would vaporize dark toner, potentially allowing a sheet of paper to be used up to five times.

Intriguing article over at Technology Review (the MIT publication) about some research into technology that could "unprint" paper.

According to the article, U.K. researchers are experimenting with laser lights that could potentially remove printed ink from a sheet of paper (emulating laser printer process, but in reverse). The idea is to vaporize the ink without destroying the paper, the article suggests.

The technology under research, discussed in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, could potentially allow a sheet of paper to be reused up to five times before it must be tossed into the recycling bin. That could help save both money and energy used in the recycling process (although that would be offset by the energy used to "unprint" the page).

Personally, I wonder whether this would work for double-sided printing, which is now my default for anything I that produce myself. In any case, this isn't exactly something that will be commercially available tomorrow, but an idea worth mulling.

Topics: Printers


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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