Although it sounds too good to be true, Toshiba Europe has released details of what it claims to be the first rewritable printer in the world. Yes, you read that right, a printer that can print onto the same piece of paper as many as 500 times.
In what may be the ultimate in environmentally friendly office equipment, the Toshiba B-SX8R makes use of a specially coated glossy plastic paper which is then printed upon using a thermal imagine technique. The clever bit being that by passing the paper through a heated element, the pigment layer encapsulated within each sheet is altered enabling it to be redrawn. The print head itself contains no less than 300 temperature elements per inch, each individually controlled, and capable of rolling out documents at 12 pages per minute.
No doubt this will reduce the overall carbon footprint of the printer, but whether this will equate to real cost savings as well is less clear cut. The special paper will cost something in the region of £5 per sheet, the printer around £5000, oh and let’s not forget the cost of a separate paper cleaning machine at another £3000. Ah yes, paper cleaning machine is required to ‘wash’ the reusable paper that’s been used too much. If a sheet actually gets handled by too many people, in a typical office environment, then the oils and dust from that human contact will have to be removed to allow the printing process to work properly. And I haven’t even thought about the logistics of actually monitoring how many times each sheet has been used, or who has handled it, and so on.
Although already on sale in Japan, the Europe launch isn’t expected until 2008 (no news on US availability as of yet) which might not be a bad thing as the B-SX8R is far from perfect in many respects. Often it is possible to see a ‘shadow’ of previous content on a reprinted sheet, and if you use too much heavy black on the page it can lead to permanent damage, as can prolonged exposure to daylight, and obviously it cannot be folded.
Which brings me back to where I started: too good to be true…