TU Delft spin-off Inkless presents quality black-and-white prints without ink

November 2, 2016

Printing without the need for ink? Inkless, a TU Delft spin-off company, has the technology to do this without sacrificing print quality.

Today spin-off company Inkless presented its revolutionary printing technology to society through the six o’clock news from NOS. The patented technology enables high resolution blackandwhite printing without the use of ink. With inkless printing, Inkless provides a sustainable technique that minimises waste and carbon footprint and reduces operational costs without loss of quality and speed. 

Every year 14 billion dollars worth of black ink cartridges and toners are sold worldwide. We’re all familiar with the problems surrounding ink cartridges: they’re expensive, bad for the environment and just when you want to print that important document, your cartridge runs out of ink. Thanks to the startup company Inkless these problems can be a thing of the past. Inkless has developed a worldwide patented technology with which you can print in black-white without the use of ink cartridges, toners or other consumables. ‘Our technology makes these cartridges and toners completely obsolete,’ says co-founder Arnaud van der Veen. “With inkless printing, we can turn the print market completely upside down.”

The secret is carbonisation

‘With the patented Inkless method, developed in alliance with the TU Delft Optics Research Group, we carbonise the paper,’ explains the company’s co-founder Arnaud van der Veen. ‘If you use a conventional method to do that, you quickly start burning through the paper because it is so thin. The resulting print is also not permanent and not black enough. Inkless has much better control over the carbonisation process, as a result of which we can print less deeply and therefore do not go through the paper. We have also developed a solution that ensures that the print is black enough and permanent.’

Environmental benefits

‘Our inkless printing technology offers many advantages. Cartridges, toners or special coatings on paper are no longer required, which leads to a significant environmental benefit. A lot of energy is required for the production of cartridges and ink and this production produces waste and results in harmful emissions. Less than 30% of all the cartridges are recycled. The rest ends up in the garbage dump where it takes more than 450 years before a toner cartridge is completely decomposed.
Apart from the environmental benefits, you will never face an empty cartridges at inopportune moments. In addition, printing without cartridges or toners obviously means that there are no recurring costs once the printer has been purchased. This results in a significant cost advantage.’

‘we are now ready for the next step and further upscaling’

Upscaling

Van der Veen: ‘Inkless printing techniques already exist, like for till receipts, but they are not environment-friendly and the quality is poor; for example, the print fades quickly. As a result, these existing technologies can only be used in a limited number of applications. ‘Inkless now achieves the quality standards of conventional printing techniques, including in terms of resolution and printing speed’, says Van der Veen. ‘This means we are now ready for the next step and further upscaling.’

Large market

Printing text, images and graphics is possible on paper, labels and the surface of packaging. ‘That means that we are talking about several different, large markets: coding & marking (e.g. printing best before dates and barcodes), digital production printers and business and home printers. Since we now have the technology at the level we need, we are currently exploring the most logical strategy and market for us’, says Van der Veen. ‘It may make most sense for us to join forces with one or more major players in the market – we have already started making contacts to achieve this. This will enable us to upscale relatively quickly and, we expect, to reduce prices still further.’

team_inkless

Spin-off

Inkless – Revolutionary Printing Technology is the result of a graduation project by Venkatesh Chandrasekar at TU Delft. With his fellow student Van der Veen he set up a company to further develop the promising technology with the support of Delft Enterprises B.V., STW (Take Off initiative), Climate KIC and MIT-RVO. The company is part of the YES!Delft business incubator and TU Delft is one of its shareholders. The start-up company was founded by Chandrasekar and Van der Veen (who have since graduated).

Also read the portfolio of inkless >>