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New Details on Xerox Inkless Printer

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the desirable-transients dept.

Printer 198

Iddo Genuth writes "Xerox is developing a new printing technology which does not require ink of any kind. The new technology includes reusable paper which can be printed and erased dozens of times and has the potential to revolutionize printing. New details on this upcoming technology, which was first reported in September 2006, are now revealed."

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Just ignore me..... (-1, Offtopic)

Squatting_Dog (96576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117288)

First post - Yipeee!

Re:Just ignore me..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117298)

And it's slashdotted already. Bah

Please contact this site's webmaster (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117312)

If you are the webmaster, your account may have exceeded for one or more of the following reasons:

        * Your site has used more than 20% of the cpu.
        * Your account has too many processes running at the same time.
        * Your site was consuming too many resources. This happens on occassion to very busy sites that have inefficient scripts running.
        * Your Host (eg. this one) is taking you for an idiot

Fantastic (4, Insightful)

dbolger (161340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117320)

There are very few stories on Slashdot (or, for that matter, anywhere), that actually make me say "wow", but this is definitely one. I work in an office where I have to use the printer a lot, but rarely for anything long term - printing a customer's emailed comments to show a manager who doesn't have our Kana email software in place etc. That's a tremendous waste of paper, as in most cases, the paper is crumpled up and in the (sometimes recycling, but usually not) bin within minutes of printing. If that paper was reusable to this extent, our paper usage would drop to a fraction of its current rate - saving us money and helping the environment in the process. You don't get much better than that :)

Re:Fantastic (0, Flamebait)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117394)

Why don't you just forward the e-mail to your manager? Printing e-mail out is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. The last time I heard that was from idiots at work that were printing out important e-mail messages and storing them in filing cabinets to reduce their quota usage. How fucking retarded is that?

Re:Fantastic (4, Informative)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117456)

1. Not every organization gives every employee a PDA or laptop, so taking notes/emails to meetings requires printing them out.

2. Unless you use software like OneNote (and have a laptop) it can be much more convenient to print out an email and "doodle" notes onto it.

Re:Fantastic (4, Interesting)

dbolger (161340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117522)

One major reason is that out mail server (over which I have no control), can take a long time to deliver mail, even internally. If I need to show a manager a report with information they need, I print it out so that I can go to them with it in my hand, rather than sending it to them, then walking over to wait an indeterminate length of time until they get it. In other cases, I would be dealing with people who were not even at a computer, but would still need the information. I don't think its wise to call things retarded just because you can't immediately see how they work.

Re:Fantastic (3, Insightful)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117930)

I agree, although I have to also say that improving mail server performance is probably a lot cheaper, quicker & more realistic than waiting for an exotic printer to hit the market.

I have a mental image of almost every retarded manager in my organisation going "Excellent, some piece of technology that can magically make my problem go away without me expending any effort to try and actually solve it."

Re:Fantastic (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117614)

I often print out my emails. I use the paper to help prioritize my day. Plus it is very easy to use a Pen to check off what I did. I could do it on the computer but it is so much easier on paper. Also giving the manager the paper is helpful because he can then mark it up himself highlight what is important to him... Although this makes the use of this technology kinda pointless because they assume you just print it out and read it. The real value in paper is the ability to mark it up.

Re:Fantastic (2, Insightful)

RebelSponge (1065066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118756)

I kind of doubt this kind of technology with dramatically change the way businesses currently use paper, because a lot of the paper that is currently "wasted" is printed out so it can be marked on. Kind of pointless to use reusable paper if you are going to mark on it.

Re:Fantastic (3, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117654)

Let me get this straight....A /. geek is recommending that you not back up your hard drive to another medium? Whether WORM, MO, paper, {insert your fave medium here}, "important email messages" SHOULD be backed up. It's either that or a bunk hard drive means your data has been lost, found, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months before getting recycled as firelighters.

Re:Fantastic (3, Funny)

RagingHAL (750134) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117916)

Our organization recommends that one print out the e-mail to scan it into our document management system (EMC Documentum). Your tax dollars at work!

Re:Fantastic (2, Funny)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118204)

Why don't you just forward the e-mail to your manager?

Hey, he could have an Amish manager, you insensitive English clod!

Re:Fantastic (0, Flamebait)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117646)

Well, I don't know how many people have access to the Firehose [] option to "vote" on which stories should make it on the front page, but when I saw this blurb (or one similar) I thought exactly the same thing.

I wonder if Slashdot will continue to fucking suck with their old and outdated (yes, even 24 hours is lame in this day and age) system or if the Firehose system will help Slashdot run back up w/the big dogs.

Re:Fantastic (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117786)

When I was working in the video game industry, Microsoft would release the new standards for the Xbox. Everyone who worked on an Xbox title would print the damn thing out. It wouldn't be unusual to go through three or four cases per printing cycle. It got less of a problem when the standards got updated less frequently. Re-usuable paper would work great in this environment.

Re:Fantastic (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117860)

The implications might be greater than this, depending on how the paper is made. There has been increasing demand for reduction of waste and reduction of risk. For instance, I feel it is worth using the Tektronix solid ink technology, now xerox, due to the fact that is no cartridge to deal with. Likewise, on low volume duplicating machines, inks are soy based. one of the remaining issues are toner based machines. Toner is not cheap, and cartridges are becoming more complex and wasteful.

if the paper is not toxic, and is still recyclable, and is only a little more expensive that normal paper, then it could be of great benefit to end users. It seems that toner costs a cent or two per page, so if the cost of a ream of paper increases from $2 to $6, then one can still expect a saving on consumables, not to mention the ability to reuse the paper.

Of course this level of saving is probably too much to expect. I suspect the pricing will be more like $15-$20, which will limit the papers use.

Ancient Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118176)

Thermal printers are nothing new. They have been around for ages.

as seen on... (2, Informative)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117324)

This same type of tech is being integrated into cameras, by a company called zink [] . It's just like the old polaroid days.

Re:as seen on... (1)

Arivia (783328) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117902)

I did an internship in an archives earlier this year.

During a part of this, I spent about a month describing and cataloging incoming photographs. About one half of that was devoted to the one tenth of the photographs that were Polaroids. Why? Because they have such a minute lifespan that on an archives' terms, this was the last chance anyone would get to look at them possibly. So, I had to describe, in minute detail, each one.

The question is: is this paper going to be like a Polaroid? Sure it's convenient, but I'll take a bit of a hassle to make sure my materials are still there when I or my estate's executor or my children need to get at them; that my relics will remain.

Re:as seen on... (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118188)

The question is: is this paper going to be like a Polaroid? Sure it's convenient, but I'll take a bit of a hassle to make sure my materials are still there when I or my estate's executor or my children need to get at them; that my relics will remain.

Then get an Epson photo printer [] . The prints are scratch/moisture resistant, and fade resistant for 200 years, or so they say. (I guess we'll find out in 200 years)

won't happen. (0, Troll)

Goatbiscuit (1022497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117332)

Heh. obviously this will never happen because kkkorperate amerikkka makes all of their profit$$$ from ink.

Re:won't happen. (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117536)

It's going to save corporate america tons of money ...

"The pages do degrade over time and currently can last between 16-24 hours before returning to their original blank form."

  1. ... they'll print your paychecks on it. Better cash them in quick!!!
  2. ... government lotteries will print their tickets on it - so even if you win, you're still a loser
  3. ... politicians will print their electoral platforms on it, so they'll never have to keep their promises (not that they do now)

One real use would be newspapers - this way, instead of "buying" the news, you're just "renting" it.

Re:won't happen. (3, Interesting)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117716)

the newspaper idea is kind of cool.... you only need a newspaper for 1 day anyway 90% end up in the recycle bin. If it didn't require ink to print (or minimal ink) then you could really beef up recycling by having newspaper "vending" machines. Put your old newspaper in + a quarter or fifty cents and get the latest copy. You could of course sell the paper for several dollars on a "new" page. The thing to do as well to change culture is to make the pages more resistant to wear than regular paper.. maybe have 45 degree corners or something (BSG reference!) also develop folios and tubes to store the paper in when not in use so it stays neat and fresh... back to a little old school engineering tubes and such. Actually scrolls would work really well. They would allow long prints of dozens of pages and have a built in storage device to keep the paper fresh.. that could be why we have 3000 year old scrolls but stacked paper books don't last nearly as long.

I'm curious if this new paper can be copied or scanned without damage. The next remaining question is if we can get notebooks made of this stuff and a special pen for writing on it... there's already 2 types of tech for reading handwriting either the logitech/penfly "dot" paper and magic pen, or the magic notebook that follows your writing. The failure of both of those models is that you spend all your time writing on ACTUAL paper, put the data into digital, then have to buy more special paper... you gain nothing over a regular notebook... unless you had magic erasing paper... now it's a really cool idea!!!!

Good news, bad news (2, Interesting)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117336)

Doesn't need ink but it does cost $1 a sheet for the paper. Only half joking. If they keep the cost down to 2X or 3X the cost of standard paper it'd be extremely interesting. The problem has been they virtually give away printers then soak you for the ink. I find it hard to believe the printers would be a compriable price and the paper will be even cost to the price of even expensive paper. No more clogged ink jets would be a huge improvement on it's own. I've blown through $30 in ink trying to clear the a clogged ink cartridge.

Re:Good news, bad news (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117404)

"No more clogged ink jets would be a huge improvement on it's own. I've blown through $30 in ink trying to clear the a clogged ink cartridge."

Why would you do that when laser printers are well under $100.00 and color lasers are under $200.00?

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117664)

Why would you do that when laser printers are well under $100.00 and color lasers are under $200.00?

Because the toner is $120+ and while I don't know the usage patters of the parent, I wouldn't need to spend $220 on a printer when I print maybe 50 sheets of paper at home a year.

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117816)

If you only print 50 pages per year, the standard cartridge that comes with an el-cheapo laserjet would last about till retirement age. Think of that -- never buy ink/toner again. There was a time I went about 5 years without changing the cart in my HP Laserjet 4L. Toner doesn't go bad at the rate ink does. If you have spend $30/year unclogging your printer, you'll still save money with a laser jet.

Plus when it comes toime to refill in case you ever do start printing more, you can try something like "". As an example, we do that for the office printer. You can generally refill a cartridge 3 times before the drum wears out. A new cartridge (17.5k pages) is about $180. A bottle of toner around $50. So for $330, we get 70k page prints. The cost is much cheaper for little printers of course (perhaps not on a per page basis, but on a per cart/refill basis -- you're still looking at 2500-3500 pages even with little carts).

Re:Good news, bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117844)

I used to use a HP 4100N and $120 toner at my last job. It would handle about 3500 to 4000 pages.

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118184)

Because the toner is $120+

No, a toner/drum assembly is $120. Toner is significantly less than that if you buy from a company that separates the two.

Spending $220 today can get you a networked, duplexing laser printer that will last your 50-sheet-a-year habit an amazing length of time. (20 years if nothing corrodes.)

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118304)

My Epson ActionLaser 1500 (hardly a high-end printer in its day, and bought as a refurb) is now 12 years old and is still on its original toner cart, with about 30% left to go. It's probably printed about 7000 pages, judging by how much I've used from of a case of paper of similar vintage. Still works fine, and has had zero maintenance.

The replacement toner kit for this one *is* around $150, but it includes a fresh imaging unit. Even so, the cost of operation is a fraction of that for an inkjet.


Re:Good news, bad news (0)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118318)

>>No, a toner/drum assembly is $120. Toner is significantly less than that if you buy from a company that separates the two.

Exactly right. And if you can find a shop that will refill your toner assembly, you're talking about refilling a 5000-page toner at a price comparable to a puny 100-page (if you're lucky) inkjet cartridge.
It's been my experience that the transfer drum degrades gracefully... lasting anywhere from 2-3 toner refills.

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118492)

"Because the toner is $120+ and while I don't know the usage patters of the parent, I wouldn't need to spend $220 on a printer when I print maybe 50 sheets of paper at home a year."

I spent $250 on a laser printer several years ago. I'm still on the original toner cartridge. Funny thing about toner: it doesn't magically disappear when not in use like ink does.

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118326)

Gotta agree with you there. I bought a color laser last year for $300 shipped and haven't had to touch it since. Before I had to field calls all the time when the inkjet needed unclogging and it constantly needed new cartridges. Lasers just work, and you can't argue with that.

Sure, toner is pricey, but so is ink. My printer costs 1.5 cents for black, and 4.5 cents for color per page. It would be hard to find an inkject that can beat those prices (and yes, that is for 5% coverage). For photos there is always Walmart - far cheaper than just about any consumer printer when you consider TCO. About the only time we print photos is when we just have to have them fast.

Anybody still using ink should take a serious look at color lasers and to the math...

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117848)

Toss it and get new heads. They usually come with a full set of inks and rarely cost more than $10-$20 over that.

Re:Good news, bad news (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117972)

Paperwork shufflers rejoice. My favorite file used to be the WPB file (waste paper basket for all you youngsters). Now they want me to keep all those useless scraps of paper, news at eleven, filing cabinet companies stocks skyrocket.

You want cheaper printing, just legislate refillable ink containers and open specs on the ink, just watch the cost or printing drop by a factor of ten.

Obligitory Dilbert reference (0)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118296)

>>Good news, bad news
>>Doesn't need ink but it does cost $1 a sheet for the paper.

Let me guess, you simply turn it upside-down and shake to, um, *refresh* the e-paper?

This will never work. (4, Insightful)

miroth (611718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117338)

An inkless printer will never be a viable profit-generating product unless it costs many, many thousands of dollars. Printer manufacturers make most of their money from consumables, and a printer which requires no consumables (even the paper is resuable) will never make it to market.

Re:This will never work. (1)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117360)

Not if they're not the company selling the ink ;)

Re:This will never work. (2)

Paisley Phrog (685921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117996)

You're thinking in terms of very, very low-end consumer grade printers. This is the sort of thing that will appeal to business-class users, where copiers/printers are charged per per sheet (click), on top of a lease/usage contract. (Toner is usually provided free of charge in such contracts,'s built into the click charge.)

Re:This will never work. (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118388)

Correction: The GP is thinking in terms of printer manufacturers. Xerox also makes the paper.

Next up... (4, Funny)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117342)

Wireless wire, cordless power strips.

Wireless Wire (1)

Tilzs (959354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117874)

Too late, Bluetooth

Can't see this working in the real world (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117348)

How many of you have tried to conserve paper by manually duplexing on a low-end printer (at home say) and found that just flipping the page over carefully is enough to cause the paper to jam.

How are Xerox planning on coping with dog-earing, tearing, scuffing and otherwise deformed paper?

Re:Can't see this working in the real world (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117558)

>>> How are Xerox planning on coping with dog-earing, tearing, scuffing and otherwise deformed paper?

My thoughts exactly.

I also expect a few patents on the paper itself, and it'll cost a pretty penny.

Sales pitches will be based on saving a few dollars if you recycle 90% of your paper, but we all know you'd be lucky if 50% of it gets reused.

It'll be the old case of 'looks cheaper on paper' but ultimately costs more than all the ink in India.

Re:Can't see this working in the real world (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118324)

Occurs to me that one solution might be a pre-processing unit built into the printer, which proceeds to pressure-roll the paper into compliance with what the printer's paper path expects.

Or maybe they've been selling us shitty paper paths on purpose, and the only real difference here is that this printer will finally have a GOOD paper path. ;)

Re:Can't see this working in the real world (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118690)

Paper paths are determines by a number of factors, firstly - the more trays a printer has, the more places it has to be able to pick the paper up from. While logically it would be possible to move the paper trays to allow a straight through paper path from any tray - it would require a lot of space and would be a large moving assembly that would jam if it got even a fraction out of alignment.

The less turns, the least number of moving components and the shortest path generally gives you the least misfeeds.

Small footprint printers get around this problem by having no tray and drop feeding the paper through a mostly gravity fed slot. These sort of mechanisms don't handle significant variation in stock weight over time, they tend to expand over time and start mis-feeding as they pick up too many sheets at a time.

Now that's just for single sided printing - what about duplex. Oh, and booklet making, folding, paper from different trays for the same print job, interposers picking up pages post-fuser.

Some devices have really clever paper paths. It's not a simple problem to solve.

Disclaimer - I work for Xerox

Better idea (1, Interesting)

zymano (581466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117356)

If there were an OPEN SOURCE type printer without all constricting licensing crap.

We could use cheap ink. It would be AMAZING. You could print out photographic posters for cents.

You could redecorate your house with your own designs or photos like wallpaper.

A lucrative idea out there. Just remember you heard it here.

Re:Better idea (1)

tajmorton (806296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117662)

If there were an OPEN SOURCE type printer without all constricting licensing crap.
You mean like hpijs/hplip [] ? (Funded by HP).

We could use cheap ink. It would be AMAZING. You could print out photographic posters for cents. You could redecorate your house with your own designs or photos like wallpaper.
The ink is expensive because HP/Canon/Whoever spent lots of money developing inks that work well with the paper you print on (and because it's high quality). You can buy cheap/crappy ink, but it's not going to look the same as a high quality HP ink on HP Photo Paper.

Re:Better idea (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117778)

I think he was referring to open ink cartridges. You could just pour ink in a hole in the top of the printer or something.

As good as HP ink might be, it's not $2000/gallon good.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118006)

You mean like continous ink cartridges ? They are a cheap and available for lots of printer models from hp, epson etc.

No cost for ink!!! (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117358)

Problem is the paper costs $45.95 per sheet quits working if it get's treated like a normal piece of paper.

I see Proud IT managers showing off this new tech and then screaming in pain as the Director of sales grabs it folds it in half and staples it.

If they get the cost of the paper to only 2x the cost of normal paper they may MAY have a chance. but right now laser printers and cheap copy paper is incredibly cheap.

slashdotted (1, Informative)

lessthanjakejohn (766177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117362)

Re:slashdotted (4, Funny)

acidrain (35064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117466)

...and they cached an "account suspended" page. Thanks...

I can hardly wait! (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117366)

As if the $2000 per gallon of ink wasn't enough, now we'll have $300 sheets of paper...

Re:I can hardly wait! (1)

dbolger (161340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117478)

It really depends on the durability. I'd buy an incredibly expensive sheet of paper if it meant I wouldn't need to buy another sheet ever again.

Blogvertizement alert (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117368)

Editors why did this get posted? There's not a single primary or even secondary link in that summary. Besides that, his blog is now slashdoted, so we can't even check to see if that has any primary sources. Note to the submitter, don't do this anymore. I don't mind people linking to their blogs in a passive way, but include some sources in your stories, please.

Re:Blogvertizement alert (1)

Ralconte (599174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117736)

Wow. We slashdotted the story. They coral-cashed the error message. It came up a year ago on slashdot, but the original link is, of course, dead. Listen, that's fine for many /. stories. We can glean enough info from the content of the messages posted, or we can google the title, or check wikipedia. But something like this, transient documents , ink-less printers is to far out there. All we can talk about is what we don't know. Oh hey, I got a cure for AIDS, and cancer and it's a cheap free fusion engine, with possible FTL capability. I can't back that up with any documents of course, should I submit it as an article on slashdot?

dupe of sorts (2, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117378)

I seem to recall reading an article like this on Slashdot back in '42. Xerox patented this technology called "dry printing" (xeros graphos in Greek) that didn't use ink, but a material known as "toner".

(Yes, I do hate it when people refer to toner and ink interchangeably as "ink"; why do you ask?)

Re:dupe of sorts (1)

Jarn_Firebrand (845277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117484)

I got this new printer doo-hicky but I'm not sure if it uses ink or ink! Ink, you see, is used in inkjets. Ink, on the other hand, is used in laser printers. But I'm confused. :(

Interesting tech, but sounds impractical (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117382)

Problems this probably would have:
  • Paper jams. Paper definitely doesn't come out exactly the same way it went in, and any handling of the output will probably make a jam a lot more likely.
  • Paper will probably cost an arm and a leg, so it would nullify savings anyway. This is a niche application, while normal paper is in really massive production.
  • Fading output is nasty - I really hate the thermal ticket paper that eventually fades so much as to render the output unreadable. I bet the shops love the reduced amount of returns though.

Re:Interesting tech, but sounds impractical (1)

Jeremy_Bee (1064620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117924)

Problems this probably would have:
* Paper jams. Paper definitely doesn't come out exactly the same way it went in, and any handling of the output will probably make a jam a lot more likely.
I think this post really hits the nail on the head.
I once had a job where I was responsible for husbanding a small print centre and the top four causes of jams (and these four things pretty much covered 100% of the jams), were ...

1) Dust (leaving stacks of paper uncovered, or leaving the printer tray uncovered causes large numbers of paper jams)
2) Too much black in the image (the exponential increase in toner on the page changes the timing of the printing cycle enough to cause a jam)
3) Slight creases in the paper
4) Re-using old paper

It's really only the very careful handling of absolutely *pristine* paper supplies that ensures that jams are history. Most bulk printing/copying shops will toss reams of paper in the recycle for minor faults like bent corners just to avoid the possibility of jamming half way through a big job.
From what I am hearing (I can't actually load the link), this purported technology actually seems to *rely* on loading and reloading the same paper over and over again, and requires the user to be even *more* careful with this "superpaper" than with the regular stuff.

That's not a benefit, that's a major problem.

Historical Screw ups (1)

robbiedo (553308) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117390)

Xerox has developed so many amazing technologies which either never made it to market, or were brought to market by a myriad of other companies while the company has struggled for years to grow new business opportunities, and growth. This is very interesting, and this is definitely perking up interest. How often do we print something which we only need for a short time? I suspect 95% of what I print is transitory in nature.

Here's the patent. (4, Informative)

zymano (581466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117400)

Wrong link. About cantilevers (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117446)

alternative to bubblejets.

Cost (1)

tktk (540564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117406)

And how much is the reusable paper going to cost? It'd better close to the cost of ink + paper or else no one's going to buy it.

Article text (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117410)

Xerox Inkless Printer
        Written by Iddo Genuth Thursday, 15 February 2007

    Xerox is developing a new printing technology which does not require ink of any kind. The new technology includes reusable paper which can be printed and erased dozens of times and has the potential to revolutionize printing. Although the technology is still in the early stages of development, it has the potential to cut printing costs and reduce office paper usage dramatically. New details on this upcoming technology are revealed here for the first time.

The dream of the paperless office

    One of the earliest articles discussing the topic of the paperless office was "the Office of the Future" published in the June 1975 issue of Business Week. The idea, bandied about many times since, was the elimination of most or all paper which has been piling around in our offices in the last several decades.
The personal computer revolution of the 1980s brought with it the hope of the paperless office as there was a shift from the old-fashioned typewriters to viewing and editing documents on computer screens. But this dream vanished quickly as people realized that their monochromatic cathode ray tube (CRT) displays were uncomfortable to watch for long periods of time. Aggravating the problem was the introduction of the low-cost office printer, capable of making dozens of copies of each document (an ability which was limited until that time to large and expensive photocopying machines).
Book on an LCD-difficult to read Book on an LCD-difficult to read
    As years passed by it seemed that the introduction of the personal computer not only did not reduce the amount of paper produced in our offices, it actually increased it.
The widespread adoption of liquid crystal display (LCD) technology in recent years made some people hopeful again for at least some reduction in office paper production, but although LCD might be somewhat more comfortable to watch than the older CRT screens, most people still find it difficult to read long documents on the computer screen; and in most cases anything above one or two pages will get printed at least once.
The old/new hope of electronic paper

    In the 1970s, Xeroxs Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was a powerhouse of innovation. Many aspects of what we now see as the modern computer, namely the mouse, the laser printer, the Ethernet, GUI, computer-generated color graphics, as well as a number of important computer languages, were invented at PARC around that time. The development of the Gyricon, which was nearly lost among all those important breakthroughs, was originally invented in 1974 by PARC employee Nicholas K. Sheridon as a new display technology for the company ALTO personal computer. Eventually, the Gyricon (a Greek term meaning rotating image) turned out to be the basis for modern e-paper technology.

    Electronic paper (e-paper) is the name given to several distinctly different technologies (to be covered in depth by a forthcoming TFOT article) which are capable of displaying text, images and in the case of some e-paper technologies, video, on a thin (occasionally flexible) sheet of plastic. In many respects e-paper is more similar to a digital display than to paper. E-paper displays can change the image at a press of a button, store countless articles or books and can even be made interactive allowing a user to add content, search and perform other operations. The important advantage of e-paper over conventional screen technology is its readability. Unlike conventional screen technology, e-paper doesn't emit light on its own; rather, it uses the ambient light to reflect the text just like ordinary paper. E-paper has the potential to eliminate paper usage in future offices but it remains to be seen whether it will be successful where so many previous technologies have failed.
Commercial e-paper technology is finally starting to appear on the market but it will take several more years before it will start making its impact. In the meantime Xerox has been hard at work trying to develop different technology which might help reduce the amount of paper used in modern offices.

    In 2003, after a period an extensive market research, Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC) began work on a new type of paper, one which can be written on and erased simply by applying light of a certain wavelength to it. The idea behind the development of this technology is the possibility to create paper that can hold information for a short period of time and can easily be reused time and time again.
The erasable paper developed by the Xerox team is still in relatively early stages of development. So far the team was able to write and re-write about 50 times on each sheet of paper using a modified multifunction printer. The printer includes a special ultra-violet (U.V.) light source which is used to write on the special paper. No ink of any kind is used in the process and the resulting printed pages do not smudge or smear when touched. The pages do degrade over time and currently can last between 16-24 hours before returning to their original blank form. The Xerox team is now looking for ways to better control this degradation process. If a new way will be found to impede the process altogether, while still maintaining the ability to manually erase the paper, Xerox can truly claim to have revolutionized printing.
XRCC researcher Peter Kazmaier with erasable paper in the lab XRCC researcher Peter Kazmaier with erasable paper in the lab
    At this stage of development, there are still many unknowns regarding the new technology. Besides the degradation issue, it is still too early to determine the price of the technologyone of the most important factors in determining its eventual success. If the Xerox team is able to keep the price of the new erasable paper and adapted printer just slightly above the level of conventional printers and paper, the savings on ink alone will make the transition to the new technology worthwhile. Another issue is the monochromatic nature of the technology. Since the Xerox team is currently focusing on creating a reusable substitute for draft paper, color is not a considered a main goal. However, since the technology has the ability to go beyond the current 150 dpi printing quality, it might actually have the potential not only to complement existing laser technology, but also to replace at least some types of existing printers in the more distant future.
Photochromic sunglass lenses (Credit: Oakley) Photochromic sunglass lenses (Credit: Oakley)
    So how does the new erasable paper technology work? Xerox is reluctant to disclose the exact details, but we acquired basic insight into the technology. The paper developed by Xerox apparently includes photochromic compounds (such as spiropyran) which exhibit heliochromic properties. That is, they darken when exposed to U.V. radiation and fade in the absence of U.V. light. Photochromic compounds are used in the manufacturing of certain sunglasses due to their ability to darken and regain their transparency quickly. However, a distinct difference from sunglasses is that Xerox's erasable paper can remain darkened for many hours. The U.V. light source, called a light bar, is integrated into a printer which illuminates specific parts of the erasable paper, creating the desired text or image on the paper. The printer can also erase the paper using a different wavelengthmaking the paper reusable.
To learn more about Xerox's inkless printer technology, TFOT interviewed Dr. Paul Smith, laboratory manager at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada.
Q: When did you start working on the erasable paper technology and what was the motivation for the project?
A: We began work on erasable paper about three years ago. This followed extensive research by our work practices team from PARC who spent time with customers in offices. People still like the feel and look of paperit is one of the best ways to communicate and show information. But our customers told us they would like to use a little less paper, so we began working on ways to create paper documents that could be reused.
Q: Did you have a Eureka! moment during the development?
A: The Eureka moment really came during the discussions with customers when we determined that two of every five documents are only used for as little as a day or even for less than a minute. Individuals might print their calendar or memos for a meeting or even the header sheet that goes with networked printers that tells who the document belongs to. You use that literally for only a minute and then put it in the recycle box.
Q: How does the erasable paper work? Could it be used to print in color?
Dr. Paul Smith Dr. Paul Smith
    A: The erasable paper is not really printed. The paper is coated with a coating of only a few microns. This overlay contains chemicals that are activated by a light bar in the printer or multifunction device that creates the image. At this time the image is black or a dark purple color. It is conceivable that color could be created, but we are not working in that area now.
Although on the surface it may appear simple to develop a paper that can be imaged using UV light alone and then fades at a specified rate at room temperature, in practice there are many complex elements which must come together to make this a viable technology. Erasable paper technology is based on a photochromic concept similar to transition sunglasses which turn dark in bright sunlight and are seen through in a dark room. In the case of sunglasses the photochromic molecule, normally from a class of molecules such as spiropyran, reversibly converts from a colorless form to a colored form. In the case of the erasable paper, the compound that is present within the paper also turns from a colorless form to colored when exposed to a specific wavelength of light. The compound then gradually reverts back to its original colorless form over a period of time.
The end result is a reusable paper which feels very much like regular paper and is not at all like the older, waxy fax paper. The reusable paper technology has been developed from scratch but does incorporate elements which have been disclosed before. With respect to the light source, it is just beyond the blue end of the visible light spectrum. The intensity required is directly related to the writing speed that one would like to support.
Q: Can we describe what you have developed as an inkless printer?
A: People normally associate printing with inks and toners which are deposited onto the paper to make the image. This in fact is an inkless printer. The media itself creates the image after exposure to light.
Q: How many write-rewrite cycles did you perform with each paper?
A: We have been able to rewrite on the paper as many as fifty times.
Q: What printing resolution did you achieve?
A: We currently use 150 dpi, but this is not a limitation, this is just due to the resolution of the image bar that we use. This resolution is more than adequate considering the documents that are being considered for use with transient documents such as cover sheets and e-mails. We could have a much higher resolution if required.
Q: Since the paper is sensitive to U.V. radiation, what happens if you leave paper near the window or even outside on a sunny day?
This paper responds to a specific wavelength of light and requires a certain intensity level to change color. The intensity required is higher than the intensity observed in sunlight.
Q: Many other technologies developed in the past by Xerox failed to materialize and were later introduced by other companies. Do you fear a similar fate for the erasable paper?
Xerox's erasable paper--gradual disappearance Xerox's erasable papergradual disappearance
    A: It is sort of a Silicon Valley myth that Xerox has not been successful in bringing technology products to market, yet we are a $15.7 billion company based on technology that we created ourselves. Our researchers invented the Ethernet, the first laser printer, the first plain-paper fax machine and the graphic user interface. There have been more than 40 successful spin-outs and startups based on Xerox technology. We are confident, based on our extensive focus groups, that there is customer interest in this project and that we will be able to develop a successful product.
Q: Can the erasable paper be used for security purposes?
A: There are many potential applications and a large amount of interest for this technology. Xerox is currently considering all potential commercialization avenues.
Q: When do you predict the erasable paper to reach the consumer market, and what obstacles do you still face in its development?
A: This is a very early research project that is several years away from reaching the market. We will be looking at a number of elements related to quality of image, length of time for the image to fade and more. There is a great deal more work to be done before this will be a product.
Q: How much do you predict the erasable paper will cost when launched?
A: Because erasable paper is still in the research centers, there is no way to speculate on what the cost of the paper will be. However, I want to clarify that this may not require a stand-alone special printer. In our prototypes, we use it as an added feature in existing Xerox multifunction devices. The erasable paper would be in one of the three or four paper drawers that these devices typically offer.
Q: What are the current limitations of the erasable paper technology? Will you be able to control the time it takes for the text to disappear?
A: Currently the image fades in about 16 to 24 hours. We do expect further research will be able to control how long the image lasts. You can also immediately erase the paper and use it again by applying a heat source or putting the paper right in the machine to be reprinted.
Q: Do you fear people will mix regular paper and erasable paper and print important documents on erasable paper? Will it be possible to allow future printers to recognize the type of paper as erasable or regular and notify the user accordingly?
A: The way Xerox multifunction devices are set up, you can currently select what type of paper you wish to use, based on sizes, color, transparencies, and so forth that are loaded into the drawers. So it will certainly be an option that you will be able to tell the printing device when to use erasable paper.

They would have loved this (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117414)

Arthur Anderson auditing firm and Enron would have loved this technology. Dont shred incriminating documents, just erase and reprint innocuous shipping vouchers on them and say, "Gee! we were just saving money, cutting down on printing costs, We would have never intentionally destroyed evidence wink wink"

More Expense (0, Redundant)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117424)

Great, so now we will have to buy both ridiculously expensive ink and ridiculously expensive paper.

and who will employ the squid? (4, Interesting)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117468)

I think this is a great idea. Except for the fact that I almost only print things out so I can write on them. If I didn't need to write on the paper, I probably would just read it from the screen. Occasionally I'll print out a map or a list to take with me, but then it gets put in my pocket and ultimately ends up torn, scrunched, and not so reusable.

So while I'm sure the Earth applauds this invention, I'm not quite sure for whom or understand what circumstances its useful. I also wonder how resusability is there. They claim 50 reprints, but I wonder if the image quality is as good by the 20th time as the first. Also, it apparently fades within a day.

It's not that I think the technology is useless, just limited.

No ink? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117490)

Can be erased and re-written?

That would be pencil, then.

Breakthrough (1)

zman189 (834519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117508)

This is just the first step. The next version will use no ink and no paper. April Fool's day came early.

Re:No ink? (1)

ThisNukes4u (752508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117884)

The "ink" in a pencil is graphite, which is consumable, just like the "ink" in a laser printer is toner.

So what? (3, Funny)

Thezez (1067072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117506)

I'm wearing fabricless underwear

Re:So what? (1)

CrazyP (521058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117676)

All that means is that you aren't wearing any...hopefully you don't have frabicless pants on as that might not go over to well in the office!

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117804)

Tinfoil, then?

Why not... (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117566)

... feed the printer a whiteboard-type thing that you can write on and which can be erased easily. More durable than regular paper anyway.

jamming (5, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117596)

The new technology includes reusable paper which can be printed and erased dozens of times and has the potential to revolutionize printing

I spent several hellish months working at an advertising company with a boatload of medium-sized digital copiers, some b&w, some color. All were made by Xerox. Guess what they were doing, almost constantly? Jamming. Xerox liked to blame our paper, claiming it wasn't "consistent enough", and the magical solution was to buy Xerox paper. We refused, and simply pestered the shit out of their support people (fixed price support contract), calling them every time a printer started jamming regularly, if they were not on-site already to fix one of the other printers (they broke/crashed regularly.)

How is this relevant, you wonder? Well, the first lesson with laser printers is to never re-use paper in any laser printer. The slightest dirt scratches the imaging drum, a crease or wrinkle causes a misfeed or jam, and so on; you don't want to know how much damage a single paper clip can cause in a 35-40ppm digital copier, either. Inkjets are fine in this regard, but the complex paper feeding mechanisms in laser printers/copiers don't really like anything but pristine paper. The slightest thing like, say, the rubber on pickup/feed rollers getting a little too hard with age or less sticky and....

Oh, and the high-speed (20+PPM) printers have to slow down as the paper gets thicker. Dramatically. This fancy paper is probably thicker.

If they can't build a printer that can handle "fresh out of the box" copier paper, how do they expect to be able to handle paper that's been even *slightly* used once, much less five times? Other problems: staples; people who want to write on pieces of paper; finger oil/coffee spills. Etc. Now you have to stock two kinds of paper, your printer has half the effective paper capacity since it now stores two types, and users have to decide on usage prior to printing ("do I want to save this for more than 16 hours? Do I want to write on it?"), have the proper drivers installed, etc. I had enough trouble getting people to print duplex to save paper- and most of the time, people didn't bother to set up the proper printer driver, or even call us to do so.

PS:Despite the issues with newer (last 2-3 years) Xerox printers, where the profit seems to come from service contracts- if you have lots of little personal-sized printers, do yourself a favor and replace them with a MUCH smaller quantity of small/medium-size workgroup network printers. The supplies are cheaper per page and you'll have to stock fewer *kinds* of supplies as well, the supplies (like drums/toner cartridges) last longer, they're designed to be more serviceable, they're usually faster...and they're not built-to-a-price as badly as the "personal" units (HP 1100, anyone? :-)

Re:jamming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117952)

Well, the first lesson with laser printers is to never re-use paper in any laser printer.

100% correct. I used to work in the book-publishing industry, so we were printing lots and lots of pages (no, not the final books ;), usually on B&W LaserJets. I still have several HP LaserJet 4M+ network printers (with the RAM now upgraded ;) that are still printing happily, one of them having printed more than 300.000 pages. Price per page on that serie of LaserJet is, if I'm not mistaken, the lower of every single B&W laser printer ever made. Good stuff... This was before they started to 'build-to-a-price'. Grab one on eBay if you can find one that hasn't been much used, you'll then keep it for a decade :)

Anyway, during the years I indeed learned to never ever reuse a single page, not even if it came 'completely white' out of the printer. I'm trying to explain that to my girlfriend since years but she refuses to believe me and insist on reusing paper. And she does have paper jams and refuse to admit its because she's doing a disservice to the printer :-/

Re:jamming (2, Insightful)

drix (4602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118560)

I love how the default reaction of /. to someone who thought of something that /. didn't is a mad rush to come up with some trivial, glaringly obvious nitpick that's primed to bring the whole house of cards tumbling down. As if Xerox simply put 700 monkeys in a gymnasium and somebody peeked in one morning to discover that they'd just happened to invent a new, revolutionary way to print things.

I mean .. these people have PhDs for crying out loud. If Xerox designed a whole entire technology around reusable, reprintable paper, then something tells me they'd spend a little more time engineering the reuse part of the equation, no? So how relevant? Not very, I'd say. Yesterday's printers weren't built for it; sounds like tomorrow's may well be.

boooya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117640)

you've just been slashdotted biatch

How should these be tagged? (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117652)

This fits into a category of "that would be cool, but I can't buy it yet so why should I care?". I just can't think of a way to put that in a one-word tag or even a two-word jumble tag. I was thinking RSN (for Real Soon Now) but that could apply to other things besides products we can't buy yet. Tagging it vaporware is a bit too pejorative; they aren't all vaporware. That would be a separate tag. "Cantbuyityet" is short, but it's much too jumbly, even considering the tendancy for tags to be jumbly anyway. Articles like this occur frequently on Slashdot. This article sort of fits in with the "fancy hi-tech paper" category. A similar vein is "readable e-books". Then there's the ever-present fantasticly dense storage or reasonably-priced flash drives that compete with spinning drives. It's always "just a year or two away" or "under development" at some huge corporation. It's fantastic enough to be cool, just on that fuzzy border of tech where they could surprise us and release it next year, or we might not get it for 10 years; or longer. It's not un-believable, but it's just not here yet. I can't buy it. It may very well exist in a research lab someplace, but... you... just... can't... buy... it. tag: cantbuyityet. Sorry. It's the best I can think of. Any better ideas?

Re:How should these be tagged? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118306)

Hypeoware - it's being hyped, but that doesn't mean you can buy it.

Coming soon... (5, Funny)

jemenake (595948) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117668)

The new technology includes reusable paper which can be printed and erased dozens of times...
Coming soon to your local office-supply store... 8.5x11 and A4 paper will now be labeled "8.5x11-R" and "A4-R" in preparation for the arrival of "8.5x11-RW" and "A4-RW". In a related story, Sony announced today their competing "8.5x11+RW" and "A4+RW" formats.

Re:Coming soon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117792)

tell me when they get to dvd-rw so i can print 20 pages in one

But don't leave it in the sun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117700)

I've used inkless special paper technology in the 1980's. It was probably the very first printer to use with my somewhat new 8-bit Atari. But don't leave the special paper out in the sun or near heat for very long or it'll turn brown.

Toys! (2, Interesting)

Diordna (815458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117718)

One could make a killing selling this paper with a sort of light pen and light eraser. Just like a pencil, but without the erasor shreddings.

picture (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117738)

The picture in the article looks like the ink is barely readable, except for printing large logos. Or am I missing something?

Re:picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118530)

It's not just that one - all of the pictures are useless. A brave effort, but I had difficulty taking the article seriously with these pictures:

* Prehistoric Mac. Apparently we didn't have technology before the Mac.
* A very old electronic display that does not make me want one.
* Someone looking at a picture of a book on their E-reader. A picture! Apparently the future doesn't have .TXT, .PDF or OCR technology, but can show grayscale bitmaps made with a scanner.
* Blurry picture of a building "From The Future"!
* Some dude holding a piece of paper, with photography so bad half the picture is of the wall.
* Oakley, showing their amazing sunglasses technology. Except not since it actually shows off photoshop technology.
* Some dude holding paper like an Anime character about to attack. Watch out, Pokemans!

And then the site went down.

Mine doesn't need ink either. (1)

Timothy Chu (2263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117742)

Mine doesn't require ink either. But the fainting spells I go through when trying to print 100 page documents with my blood are a bit of a drag.

So now they can gouge us on custom paper? (1)

Daikiki (227620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117744)

The only possible benefit of not requiring ink is the implied savings in not having to pay a hojillion billion dollars per picaliter of the stuff. So now we have a printer that requires no ink, but only works on proprietary paper. Wonder how much that's gonna cost.

Even if it is reusable, how often do you plan to print something on a piece of paper that's been handed around, smudged, creased, and sneezed on, over and over again? These days, the only things I see printed are documents that are meant to be a bit more permanent than e-mail, and I'm willing to bet that Xerox expects to see a lot of this paper being printed once, then put into a three ring binder somewhere or printed once, then used as a coaster and discarded.

In short, this strikes me as a solution looking for a problem looking for a profit margin.

Re:So now they can gouge us on custom paper? (1)

peektwice (726616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118550)

Agreed. The profit margin is in the paper. How many times has a company promised to save you money on printing costs, and yet somehow that involves buying their printers? Xerox, Lexmark, HP, et al., have a vested interest in keeping the printers running until MTBF, the ink drying up, and the trays running out of paper. Anyone who falls for this shallow scheme deserves what they get.

KIDS got a good excuse here... (2, Funny)

Maxhrk (680390) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117748)

In old days kids say 'Dogs ate my homework' excuse. However, in near-future kids would say 'why my papers are blank! Oh! I forgot I was using xerox inkless printer to print out my homework!" This one sound like right thing to use on Xerox ads, I am sure all kids want this xerox inkless printer by now.

It'll just be simple, 2 sheet of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117772)

what appears to be paper, stuck together with stubstance x. when high presure is applied the sheets stick at that point, making a color, assume black, but could be any color. erasure occurs when the 2 sheets are pulled apart by vaccumm. but not such that the paper is torn. however, if this is not the case, well, someone will just have told my idea.

Re:It'll just be simple, 2 sheet of... (2, Interesting)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118568)

anyone ever use a thermal printer?

CD-RW (1)

kalislashdot (229144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117934)

Ya and CD-RWs really caught on too.

Neat. (1)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118264)

All i can say is "wow". But i wonder what will happen to HP, in case this thing catches on. I mean, they are after all a printer-cartridge company, right?

How soon before contracts get re-written (1)

seibed (30057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118430)

don't like the original terms? erase it and start over, good thing the original signatures are still there!

GREAT!!!! (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118542)

now paper is going to become $0.25 per sheet!

Way to go Xerox! (0, Troll)

drix (4602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118654)

I am really excited about this new technology, both in terms of cost and also environmental impact. Since I know these things typically take years to make it to the market, I was hoping Xerox might speed the process up. First, fire whose ever idea it was in the first place. This will eliminate the need for them to work up the verve to form a startup and produce something that is actually worth owning--potentially shaving years off the time to market. At the same time, promote any and all naysayers at the middle management level, especially the ones who claim this product has no "potential." Finally, go ahead and start drawing up filing papers against those who ultimately succeed in capitalizing on this fantastic, paradigm shifting idea.

It's a tough road ahead, Xerox, but the strategy is sound and has the weight of history on its side. Good luck.

Does it allow use of a pen? (3, Informative)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118660)

It seems to me a two-wavelength laser pointer could serve as both "pen" and "eraser", so that you could mark up documents without damaging the paper. Many times I have to print a draft of a letter or presentation and run it by the executive, who will probably mark it up with handwritten corrections and send it back to me. They have every right to edit something they have to sign or say until they're happy with it, but it does waste a lot of paper. If I could substitute erasable paper for each proofing stage, it would probably cut out 2/3 or 3/4 of my paper use, but in order to do so, it needs to be human-writable and not just printable.

Hopefully this erasable paper can be photocopied without making it fade. That would solve a lot of the problems caused by fading over time. If you find you want to keep something you wrote on erasable paper, just pop it in the copy machine and it's now on permanent paper.

If Xerox does get it to work in color, it could be a great way to proof document formatting as well. There are things I just can't spot without actually printing a document, such as whether a shading makes text within it illegible. If the document is important enough for me to polish up and proof thoroughly, it's probably going to be in color. It doesn't have to be perfect color, just "business color".

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