Concept Technolgy

Solar Tanning Printer

Tanning… Usually the domain of sun-seeking beach lovers and those wanting a Peter Andre glow. But how about your paper printing by this method?!

Solar technology is not normally the realm of office space, but that’s exactly what this concept printer from South Korea aims to harness.

The Tanning Printer intends to replace your costly inks and toner with a solar-powered tanning process which effectively ‘burns’ your text onto the paper.

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tanning paper printing process
(Yanko Design)

Using energy from the sun, the tanning printer captures direct light through a refraction glass on top of the device. This power is then converted and applied to a thermal coil which then ‘tans’ the paper.

As the printer is solar powered, the user won’t need any ink or even cables making little device fully portable, ideal for those working on the move. You’ll just have to make sure it gets enough light to charge the thermal coil.

tanning priniting recharge

A Korean design team, including Seugin Lee and Yonggu Do, came up with the concept in 2011 as a way to improve efficiency in printing and have been developing the printer ever since. The designers believe their Tanning Printer could be the next generation of cost effective, eco-friendly printing, which should finally replace costly cartridge ink.

Tanning paper

The technology of tanning paper has been in existence for some time, but on a smaller scale. Our current technology, called thermal printing, uses special thermo-sensitive paper to allow text to be burnt onto it. You’ll normally find thermal printing on packaging or, more commonly at a consumer level, on receipts.

The designers of the Tanning Printer want you to be able to use standard paper to ‘print’ onto, replacing the need for costly specialist thermo-sensitive paper.

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As you can imagine with a concept printer like this, there are a few drawbacks. The first is the solar-powered element.

It’s believed the printer will need access to direct, or strong, sunlight in order to gather enough charge to print. Although the designers have included a solar battery to store some of your day’s rays, the capacity of the battery is unlikely to be large.

From this, printing in dark offices or even at night may end up being an incredible drain on the battery, rendering the thermal element useless.

At the moment, the Tanning Printer can only output in black and white text. However, its designers don’t believe there is an issue as a high proportion of printed documents in the office are not in full colour.

Unfortunately, as the design is still at concept level, we can’t find an estimated cost or completion date. So, for the time being, you’ll have to keep investing in ink and toner. Might have to hold out a little longer for super cheap printing – although you can always check out Ebuyer’s website for great value office (and home office) printers! Don’t forget to check out our inks and toners, too.

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