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Industry Insight

Erasable Toner

When I was a kid in the 1970s,

By Richard Romano
Published: December 10, 2012

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I was amazed (because it was the 70s, the suburbs, and we were all easily captivated by small, shiny objects) when Papermate introduced the original Erasermate, a ballpoint pen that had ink that could be erased. (Ink! That can be erased!) It seemed quite revolutionary at the time; in retrospect, maybe it wasn’t quite Fisher Space Pen cool, but at the time, it seemed pretty cool, even if the ink easily smudged and at the same time didn’t erase all that thoroughly. Those were far more innocent times, I guess. Many moons later, along the same lines of things that can be erased, via Gail N-K (a previous Keeper of the Blog), comes an interesting write-up at Sustainable Brands about new product from Toshiba: a laser printer that uses erasable toner, allowing sheets to be reused up to four times.
The printer uses a special toner whose color is removed by passing the paper through high temperature. The machine also has ability to sort paper into reusable and un-reusable sheets at the same time as removing the toner color, and to digitize the documents prior to erasing.
The printer is a multifunction device that will scan documents prior to erasing them, just in case.
Toshiba is touting the environmental benefits of this first-of-its-kind printer, noting that if the same paper is used to its full extent (five times total), it constitutes a 57 percent reduction in the system’s total CO2 emissions.
I am not sure how they calculate that, but I do like the idea of being able to reuse office paper over and over again. There is still a lot of printed ephemera in our home and office lives, and it would be nice to get as much life out of the paper it is printed on as possible. I can’t vouch for the print/erase quality of the device (it is being introduced in Japan in February), but it is an interesting idea. Also, too:
The printer also contains parts made with bioplastics, though Toshiba did not state to what extent bioplastics are employed.
The post also reminds us that earlier this year Adobe had released an application called LeanPrint that is said to optimize desktop printer output to use as little toner, etc., as possible. I’m not sure about any environmental savings, but it sounds like it would at least save money, which ain’t that bad.

Please offer your feedback to Richard. He can be reached at richard@whattheythink.com.



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