Forget Snapchat! Here's a Printer that Can Make Its Ink Invisible

Author: Steve Woods
Published: December 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Invisible ink messages have been the stuff of many boyhood dreams, as well as of spies going back to ancient days. Since Pliny the Elder, the desire to pass an easily read message in a method invisible to one's enemies led to a variety of techniques. In 2011, even the CIA released its WWI recipe for making secret messages invisible to the human eye.

As mobile apps such as Snapchat and Facebook's Poke say they offer the ability to make not-safe-for-work images and sexts disappear within a short time frame, what about some advanced tech to make our printed works simply vanish?

Japanese website The Asahi Shimbun reports that electronic office machine manufacturer Toshiba Tec Corp. has done just that, perfecting a printer that will erase its printed text and images, making them invisible.

The reason behind Toshiba's system isn't really clandestine in nature. It's well, about nature. The printing system, called Loops, was designed to allow green offices to use and re-use printer paper, saving trees and lowering one's carbon footprint.

Loops uses a special ink developed by Pilot Corporation, that prints onto paper at a much lower temperature than conventional printers, then becomes invisible when heated back up. According to Toshiba Tec, a piece of paper that undergoes this process can be reused up to five times before prints begin to degrade.

The Loops printer is actually two different machines - the multifunctional copier/fax/printer device, and a scanner/ink eraser. The scanner part allows you to make a digital copy of your work just before heating up the ink to make the paper re-usable.

According to Toshiba Tec, despite the additional power used to scan a copy and erase the ink, reusing the same piece of paper up to five times would cause a decrease of 60% in carbon dioxide emissions compared with a conventional printer.

The Loops system is slated to go on sale in February, for around at a recommended retail price of $17,000, and only blue ink is available, for now. Until the price comes down, you could simply hire a college student to scan your office documents into Snapchat.

Images courtesy Asahi Shimbun, TheCopierBlog


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Article Author: Steve Woods

Tech Geek. Digital Sommelier. Tea Aficionado. Founder of Twitter: @YouKnowSteve

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