Delft – We’re all familiar with the problems surrounding ink cartridges: they’re expensive, bad for the environment and just when you want to print that important document, your cartridge runs out of ink. Thanks to the startup company Inkless, a spin-off of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and part of the incubator YES!Delft, these problems are now definitely a thing of the past. Inkless has developed a worldwide patented technology with which you can print in black-white without the use of ink cartridges, toners or other consumables. ‘Every year 14 billion dollars worth of black ink cartridges and toners are sold worldwide. Our technology makes these cartridges and toners completely obsolete,’ says co-founder Arnaud van der Veen. “With inkless printing, we can completely turn the print market upside down.”
‘Inkless has now met the quality standards of conventional printing techniques, among other things, on the resolution and printing speed,’ says co-founder Arnaud van der Veen.
‘Our inkless printing technology offers many advantages. Cartridges, toners or special coatings on paper are no longer required, which leads to a significant environmental benefit. After all, a lot of energy is required for the production of cartridges and ink and this production produces waste and results in harmful emissions. Less than 30% of all the cartridges are recycled. The rest ends up in the garbage dump where it takes more than 450 years before a toner cartridge is completely decomposed. Apart from the environmental benefits, you will never be faced with empty cartridges at inopportune times. In addition, printing without cartridges or toners obviously means that there are no recurring costs once the printer has been purchased. This results in a significant cost advantage.’
Van der Veen: ‘Our inkless printing technology is unique. Worldwide, no other party has succeeded in printing on regular paper without the use of cartridges, toners or other supplies.’
‘With the method of Inkless, the paper is carbonized. If you would normally try this with thin material, such as paper, you would burn through it quickly. The resulting print would also not be permanent in that case and would not be black enough. Inkless has a much better control over the carbonization process, which means we don’t have to print as deep and therefore do not damage the paper. Furthermore, we have developed a solution which ensures that the print is black enough and also permanent.’ The technology is protected by several patents.
Different large markets
Printing texts, images and graphics can be done on paper, labels and packaging surfaces. ‘We are talking about several large markets: Apart from printers used at offices and homes, the inkless printing technology can be applied as well to the markets of coding & marking (think about, for example, expiration dates and barcodes) and digital production printers (transactions, mail, books etc.),’ says Van der Veen.
‘Now that we have developed the technology, it is time to bring it to the market as quickly as possible. To shorten the time-to-market, we are currently exploring the possibilities of cooperating with one or multiple large printing companies. We are already in contact with a few parties.’
Inkless originated from a graduation project of Venkatesh Chandrasekar who studied at the TU Delft. Together with fellow student Van der Veen he founded a company that further developed the promising technology, with the TU Delft as one of its shareholders; all within the business incubator YES!Delft. The startup of Chandrasekar and Van der Veen (now both graduated) consists of seven employees and is based in the Netherlands in the cities Delft and Waddinxveen.