Every year there is endless excitement about new Macbooks, smartphones, Kindles and iPads. Not many people get excited about printers. Ever since the desktop printer became ubiquitous, it seems like printers have changed very little, and printing technology is nothing to get excited about. You may not know that the printing industry is actually changing very rapidly and several innovations are destined to touch your life in significant ways. Here are five that made significant progress in 2012.
- Flexapex While this innovation didn’t make any new headlines, Apex patented and released a new technology for industrial printing. Mostly applicable to large-scale manufacturing, most of us won’t even notice the difference it makes. Over time, however, you will begin to see higher quality images on packaging and products you buy. Hopefully, Flexapex will bring cheaper prices to manufacturing as well.
Ever needed to print a large document, only to be finished with it a few hours later? A few companies are now exploring “unprinting” – the ability to erase type from a page afterwords and make recycling much easier. With a machine smaller than most copiers, your office could eliminate the need for shredding and save yourself huge costs on paper.
- Canon offers a new option to printer cartridges in India
Printer cartridges are typically very expensive, and need to be replaced regularly. Manufacturers sell printers at or below cost on the assumption that they can charge high premiums on cartridges for the life of the printer. Meanwhile, they do their best to promote their quality over the remanufactured or recycled options offered by company’s like inkpal – until now. Epson just released a new brain child with an integrated tank system! Designed for use in India, the system could make color copies less than half a penny each, and black and white less than a quarter of a penny. If the right competition takes hold, maybe you will finally get some relief on your printing costs. Until then, there are toner cartridges out there that perform well, and cost much less than their OEM counterparts.
- Printing in 3D
The obvious candidate and the one that got the most media attention in 2012 was 3D printing. This isn’t because 3D printing was invented in 2012. It has existed in some form for over 20 years, but only recently has it gained enough traction to become practical. There are now 3D printers available for as little as $1,000 and the prices are dropping quickly. Once the cost falls a few hundred dollars more, a significant revolution will happen. You could soon find yourself printing small objects or devices in your living room rather than ordering them online. If constructing 3D models was never in your comfort zone, you can always take pictures of the object you want and let the computer create a model for you.
- E-ink and the rise of e-readers
The biggest news in 2012 was a carryover from the year before. E-ink, used in the screen of a Kindle or a Nook, is becoming much cheaper and better. Here, the highest credit goes the Nook, which has added faster refresh times and solved one of the biggest limitations of e-ink – how to read in the dark. Building LEDs around the edges of the display keeps the reading ease of e-ink while also making it possible to read at night. As e-readers and e-ink become more ubiquitous, expect this innovation to blend more with traditional printing until you see both technologies incorporated into the same documents.
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