Wouldn’t you love a dollar for every time you heard the phrase “paperless office” being bandied about during the 90s? Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen, did it? On the contrary - as computer and printer technology continued to evolve and printing emails or web pages became quicker and easier - paper use rapidly increased. These days, the cost of office consumables, particularly toner, ink and copy paper, can be prohibitive. So printer manufacturers are coming up with some very clever ideas to reduce ink and paper costs. We’ve seen portable printers that use zero-ink technology like Dell’s Wasabi printer and the Polaroid portable printer and now there’s PrePeat – an innovative office printer that not only uses no ink or toner, it reuses paper.
The PrePeat uses rewritable plastic sheets made from PET plastic. These sheets can be erased and re-printed about 1000 times per sheet. The heat-sensitive plastic sheets are fed into the printer and a line thermal head either prints a new document in black and white or erases an existing document and reprints another – allowing you to re-use paper again and again.
Designed by a Japanese company, Sanwa Newtec, the PrePeat is ideal for documents that are only read once - such as office memos or emails. It prints to a 203 dpi resolution and a new model is expected to be capable of printing at a resolution of 305 dpi. Unfortunately, whilst you won’t need to spend on copy paper or ink, the machine and the plastic sheets come at a hefty price. The PrePeat will set you back JPY500,000 (about US$5,600 at time of publication) and the sheets come in lots of 1000 at JPY300 per sheet so you’ll pay about US$3,360 per lot.
Hopefully the cost of these innovative products will fall as the technology spreads and the dream of a truly paperless office may not be too far away.