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…

About the Author

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

It's a start in a good direction.
It's either that or tree-growing-log-slicing-paper-bleaching-page-cutting printer add-on.:mrgreen:

Seems to me like it's more about home-grown recycable paper (that you recycle yourself instead of through a plant) than a printer.

The printer kind of reminded me of those really old thermal fax machines...

the real clever bit is that they can make a ton of money selling the special paper that people will need to use their special printer in combination with their special paper.

"Carbon footprint" is complete bollocks, an invention by treehugging politicians with no understanding of the first thing they're talking about and picked up happily by marketeers who see a quick buck when they smell it.

The actual polution from this machine could well be a lot higher than that of regular printers.
Most paper is already recycled, but this special stuff will be a lot harder to due to the chemicals used to make it thermal.
It will also be useless for archival work as thermal paper always degrades over time. Fine for the office meeting notes, but if you want your print to be readable in a few months you'd better not use it.
If the stuff does end up in a landfill or incinerator, it will release potentially toxic chemicals into the environment.

And that's without taking the production into account.

If you want to save on paper, move more towards a paperless office. Don't let yourself be fooled into things like this.

It's a bit like the argument for electric cars which always seems to avoid the question of the environmental impact of both the manufacture and disposal of the swathe of batteries required. A bunch of boffins in the UK recently calculated that it was more costly to the environment than running a normal car, although there was plenty of argument about the weighting/scoring of various elements in that research.

those guys also always forget to take into account the environmental impact of generating and transporting that electricity...

Reminds me of something my father was involved in in the 1980s or early '90s.
Milk is almost exclusively sold in cartons these days and at the time there was a huge row by the greenies that that is bad for the environment and cartons should be banned.
My father (who at the time was a fiscal consultant for several dairies across the country) got his hands on the results of a study ordered by those dairies (through a middleman so the origin of the funding would not be known, thus the results untainted) on the complete environmental impact of cartons versus bottles.
Turns out that if you take into account not just the cost of producing cartons versus producing bottles (which favours bottles because they're reused) but the cost of disposing of them, transporting them, and cleaning those bottles in between uses, cartons were actually better for the environment than were bottles (in both cases some assumptions had to be made of course, like the percentages of bottles that would be returned and could be reused, and the percentages of cartons going into landfills, incinerators, and paper recycling).

The study was never published anywhere, every scientific and mass media publication refused to print something that went counter to the mantra of the "green" movement.

I've myself been a part of a group of people who did research on the comparative environmental impact (again, total impact over life, including transportation of raw materials, fuels, and disposal of the installations and their materials) of different means of generating elecricity.
Turns out those windfarms and especially solar panels are not so "green" after all. You need to run a windfarm for over a decade before it starts to outperform a coal fired plant, a solar panel for 15 years.
Of course that windfarm only lasts something like 15-20 years at best, that solar panel you're happy to get 10 years out of so it's actually a worse solution for both the environment and your wallet than is electricity from a regular powerstation.
Cleanest of all of course is nuclear power, especially in the presence (currently politically unacceptable because of greenie campaigning) of fast breeder reactors which feed on the waste of regular reactors and nuclear waste refinement facilities which can turn the vast majority of it into raw materials for other industries (as most isn't itself radioactive, like steel and lead).