By Jo Francis, Tuesday 08 November 2016
Dutch start-up Inkless is hoping to attract interest from production printer manufacturers for its eponymous printing technology – even though it doesn’t require any consumables.
The venture is a spin-off from a graduation project carried out by Venkatesh Chandrasekar at the Delft University of Technology, where he met up with fellow student and Inkless co-founder Arnaud van der Veen.
The duo vaunted the potential environmental benefits of their patented technology, and said it had the potential to make conventional printer cartridges and toners “completely obsolete”.
The Inkless method works in black and white only. It involves a form of controlled burning using lasers to carbonise the surface of the media to create the image area.
Arnaud told PrintWeek that it did not require special surface treatments, and worked with standard paper stocks: “It has been proven in a laboratory environment that the Inkless printing technology reaches the same printing quality performance as existing printers and can reach the same speed levels. Next step is to bring this technology towards the market by integrating it into end products. To shorten the time to market, we are exploring partnership-opportunities with one or multiple large printer manufacturers. We are already in contact with a few parties.”
He said the method involved ‘printing’ with a dot size of 24 microns and dot spacing of 10 microns, which translated to resolution of 1,200-2,400dpi. The Inkless method can produce double-sided output on standard 80gsm or 74gsm copier paper, and also works with a range of other materials, including carton board.
Despite the obvious potential conflict with manufacturers that have business models based on ongoing consumables sales, Arnaud said the now seven-strong company was confident it could come up with a persuasive proposition.
“We are confident that a lot of companies these days think innovatively rather than only protectively or defensively,” he stated. “Of course for many parties, recurring consumables sales forms an important part of their current business model, but this doesn't mean that this is the only thinkable business model. Printing without cartridges is more sustainable, improves the functionality of the printer and decreases the production costs.”
He said the print speed of 314ppm double-sided was the equivalent of high-speed production printers, making the technology relevant for a variety of potential applications include office printing, production printing, and coding and marking.
“We are convinced that a new business model can be built around a printing method which offers these advantages and that there are enough parties which are willing to innovate on their product line and business models.”
One production printing expert commented: "I can't really get my head around it. I'd imagine the only people who'd potentially be interested in it would be someone like Screen, who make machines but not consumables."
Existing printing systems that do not require ink, such as the Datalase high-speed printing system, use a special coating.
The firm has produced a YouTube video to promote the potential of its system.
"Printing without ink by Inkless"