Ink Vs. Toner, Riso Makes the Case for a Greener Approach

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Ink Vs. Toner, Riso Makes the Case for a Greener Approach

 user 2012-05-08 at 8:19:23 am Views: 40
  • #27255

    Ink v toner, Riso makes the case for a greener approach to printing

    Inkjet printer manufacturer argues technology breakthrough offers greener alternative to inefficient and dirty toner printersThe innocuous looking printer sitting in the corner of your office is likely to be responsible for some of your organisation’s most significant environmental impacts, according to printer manufacturer Riso.

    The Japan-based company is one of the leading providers of inkjet printers, which command just a fraction of the market for office printers and copiers, but which their supporters argue offer a green alternative to the popular but environmentally harmful toner-based printers.

    Speaking to BusinessGreen, Tamal Saha, managing director at Riso UK, argued that laserjet toner-based printers have two fundamental design flaws that make them both inefficient and a source of indoor air pollution.

    "To get toner fused onto the paper you need heat, and any process requiring heat uses a lot of energy," he explained. "And then there is the fact that toner is carbon-based. It starts as powder and is then fused on to the paper, but that inherently means that dust will be created… The technology is a lot better than it used to be, with more effective filters being used, but it is still not a great chemical process to have taking place near people."

    A number of independent reports have highlighted the health risks posed by indoor air pollution, singling out printers as one of the main sources of particulate matter and potentially harmful chemicals.

    Inkjet printers have always offered a more energy efficient alternative to laser printers, while avoiding air pollution issues, but, as Saha admitted, concerns over speed and quality has left them confined to the market for small desktop printers, with toner-based printers commanding over 99 per cent of the global market for larger office printers.

    However, Riso claims to have developed a new patented design for inkjet printers that promises to offer a viable alternative to toner-based printers, churning out 150 pages a minute while also delivering superior green credentials.

    Saha explained that by using a process that sees ink dropped across a page using a series of inkjet heads, the company’s ComColor series of printers avoids the need for a fuser, slashing energy use by around 80 per cent compared to a standard conventional printer and based on 20,000 pages being printed per month.

    "Estimates from the Carbon Trust have shown that office printers and copiers account for around 15 per cent of total office energy consumption, and that is not including the impact hot printers have on air conditioning requirements," he said. "If you are using a printer a reasonable amount our technology can save thousands of pounds on your energy bill."

    Arguably, the strongest green credential associated with Riso’s technology is the way in which the removal of heat from the printing process extends the life of the printer.

    Saha claims the ComColor printers are designed to deliver up to 10 million copies, giving them a life span that, depending on usage, can last decades.

    The company has developed refurbishing capabilities to take advantage of this reliability and is offering printers to customers on a five-year lease, before then refurbishing them and offering them on the secondary market on another four-year lease.

    Saha said there was then the potential to find a third home for the printers in emerging economies. "We are refurbishing 20 units a month that we then sell on at a reduced price to schools or churches," he said. "That is 20 new printers that don’t need manufacturing and 20 new sites that get to take advantage of a highly efficient printer."

    However, as a relatively new technology there is a price premium attached to Riso’s printers, with the entry-level ComColor printer costing around £10,000. Meanwhile, advocates of toner-based printers would argue that inkjet technologies do not offer as clean an image.

    Saha countered that the company’s technology is designed to meet office needs and not high quality printing requirements, adding that the products compete on cost when total costs of ownership are taken into account.

    He revealed that Riso is now working on expanding its range of inkjet printers further and adding new functionality that will allow people to easily print from mobile devices and remote locations, while also seeking to raise awareness of the environmental merits of ink-based printers.

    "People are aware that toner printers are not ideal and that there are inherent environmental problems," he said. "But there has not been the awareness that greener alternatives are available, that is where we need to educate the market."