University of Cambridge To Develop Laser 'Unprinter'

A group of scientists from the University of Cambridge has successfully used laser technology that will allow them to create the world's very first laser 'unprinter'.

"What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype. Thanks to low-energy laser scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there," explained Julian Allwood, leader of Cambridge's Low Carbon Materials Processing Group.

The concept is simple; the laser unprinter will erase toner print from the paper and leave behind a clean sheet. While many have tried to come up with a way to successfully reuse printed paper, a working product has yet to materialise. Toshiba tried its hand at such technology, but when attempting to erase the toner, it left a residue - and only permitted the paper to be reused a total of five times.

"Toshiba have been selling the 'e-blue' toner for a while - which, like old thermal fax paper, fades under the right type of light. However that - of course - applies only if you buy their magic toner," explained Allwood. "Our ambition was to develop a method that would remove conventional toner from conventional paper in order to allow re-use of the paper. Toshiba's is a different approach to the same problem."

The researchers are pretty confident that they've come up with a solution, with their unprinter compatible with both photocopied or laser printed paper - simply by tracing the outline of the toner, then flash-frying it off using a laser.

Experiments are still in progress while the team fine tunes the technology, while they also decide whether to file patents and try to commercialise the idea.

Source: The Register