Toshiba has released a new type of printer that can be used to re-print on paper that has already been printed on. The E-Studio306LP is claimed to be the world’s first multifunction printer to use an erasable toner, which then allows paper printed with it to be fed into the E-StudioRD30, which is an eraser unit. It’s an offering that Toshiba hopes will be able to save companies money by reducing paper consumption, mainly through re-printing on the same paper.
Pages printed with the erasable toner come out in blue so that they can be easily differentiated from normal, non-erasable prints, and once you’re done with the erasable printout, you can feed it into the eraser unit, which then makes the paper blank again. Toshiba says that there is no waste from the erasing procedure; the paper passes through a fuser which makes the toner react in a way that makes it translucent. If you’ve printed on both sides of the paper, then both sides will be erased in one pass. As the paper is erased, it is also scanned and then electronically archived. After it’s fed into the eraser, the paper is sorted according to whether it can be re-used or not. Paper can’t be re-used if it’s fed into the eraser with ink that can’t be erased (that is, prints from a standard printer), or if it has holes, tears or staples in it. In an example at the Sydney launch, paper that was folded in the middle was deemed to be re-usable.
Normal office paper can be used in the E-Studio306LP, and if it’s printed with the erasable toner, it can be erased and re-used five times (this figure is just a guide and it can depend on how much of the page is printed). At the Sydney launch of the printer, Toshiba showed off a paper sample that was erased twice; there were slight remnants of the previous print visible when the paper was held to the light. In addition, the eraser got rid of hand drawn ink and highlighter marks made by Pilot Frixion pens, which also use erasable ink.
Toshiba stresses that the technology should not be used to print sensitive information or legal documents, and that it should only be used for internal documents that are usually printed to be proofed and then thrown away. In research conducted for the TTEC Paper Usage Study, and cited by Do Something Australia at the Sydney launch of this printer, up to 89 per cent of printouts are discarded by users in one week, and it’s these throw-away prints for which this erasable printer has been designed.
Toshiba wouldn’t go into the details of the erasable toner, saying only that there are three additional chemicals in its make-up, and that it went through thorough extensive testing before it was allowed onto the Australian market. Indeed, Australia is the last market to get this printer and eraser system, with the system already being sold in markets such as the United States.
The main printer unit (E-Studio360LP) and the eraser (E-StudioRD30) don’t have to be situated next to each other, and both units can be networked, either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi (802.11g is an option). The eraser unit has a fuser that, as a general guide, is good for 270,000 erase functions. The main printer unit can do 30 pages per minute, and it has a scanner built in. It draws a maximum of 1.5 kilowatts (kW) of electricity when running, and less than 1W in ‘super sleep’ mode. The eraser unit can erase 30 sheets per minute, and it also draws 1.5kW at its peak, but less than 3W when it’s in sleep mode.
Toshiba is aiming this printing system at any businesses that have an eco-friendly focus, and is also keen to get it into the education sector. Initial costs may be high, but Toshiba says that major savings are made in the consumption of paper. As an example, organisations that print 4000 pages per month can save 192000 sheets of paper over the course of five years if they re-use their paper five times (printing only the equivalent of 48000 sheets during that time).
It’s important to note that the printer is monochrome only, but Toshiba says it is planning on introducing a colour version in the future, and desktop models will also be introduced.