Inkless (The Netherlands), whose groundbreaking technology enables black-and-white printing without ink cartridges or toners, has raised one million Euros in its latest investment round. This investment was made by a group of “Angel Investors.” Inkless was developed as a graduate project by Venkatesh Chandrasekar and fellow student Arnaud van der Veen at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. Together they started a company called Tocano that developed the promising technology to a further level, with the university as one of its shareholders. The start-up currently consists of eight employees and is part of the Business Incubator Yes!Delft. Inkless is a laser-based monochrome printing technology that enables printing on multiple substrates without any consumables or coatings. Especially ideal for printing on paper objects (copy paper, cardboard, etc.), the technology “represents a revolutionary new step in the history of printing technologies,” said its originators. Printing without consumables (ink cartridges, toner bard, coatings, etc.) in general has huge advantages including:
- A significant reduction in printing costs
- Less environmental impact because no cartridges need to be produced then later disgarded
- No wasted hours spent on changing cartridges therefore no downtime – because inkless printing enables a continuous printing process without interruption.
Currently, ink-free printing technologies either require a special coated substrate to print on (e.g. receipt printers), or are simply not accurate enough to print on thin materials with sufficient readable contrast and clarity. Tocano has developed and patented inkless printing technology that can now improve accuracy and significantly improve contrast and clarity. This makes it possible to print without consumables on thin materials without adversely affecting the readability of the printed content. “With this money, we can make our technology ‘development-ready’ – which means that we can meet the required quality and speed performance requirements, so that we can begin with the development of our first product,” said van der Veen.
Printing on packaging and labels. Tocano’s first Inkless Printer will be aimed at the packaging and labeling (coding and marking) sectors. “The printing of barcodes, shelf-life data and product codes on packages and on the labels, will form the ideal market for us to start in,” Van der Veen added. “This is because this market is currently being dominated by black-and-white printing, and also because the market will profit highly from the growth of online retail. More and more packages are being shipped, and all of these must have printed text and barcodes. At the moment, Inkless is composing a customer file, such that the product will perfectly fit the needs of the users. We’re looking for innovative-thinking companies that print lots of packages and/or print lots of labels – and that find it important that their company processes must be sustainable.”
Future markets. Van der Veen further added: “I always compare this to the transition from the analogue camera to the digital camera. Suddenly, people were able to take unlimited photos, and film replacement wasn’t necessary. Likewise, with our printing solutions, refill and replacement of inks and consumables will not be needed. He also pointed out that the new technology will not be limited to printing on packages and labels. “Our first product will fit this market, but after that, we’ll make the technology accessible for production printers, office printers, consumer printers and receipt printers. In all of these markets, we’ll be able to offer the same advantages – a cheaper and more sustainable printer without the hassles of cartridges or toners.”