A printer with no messy toner or rapidly emptying ink cartridges? If it seems to good to be true, you haven’t met Zink, the photographic printer paper with the ink built in (sounds a bit like the old paint-with-water books we had as kids, but no doubt a bit more high-tech than that). Yes, you read that right, and Dornob’s team had the chance to see it in action at CES 2017.
The company’s innovative photo paper is waterproof as well as tear- and smudge-resistant, and it has an adhesive backing so you can display your masterpieces easily. It’s also dry, durable, high-quality, and long-lasting, the company says, so your photos will hold their color and safely record those special family moments over the years. So long as you have Zink paper on hand—and a compatible device—you can print anything. No more watching the ink levels dropping in your printer and wondering if you can eke out another few pages. And, of course, since there are no cartridges, there’s no plastic to recycle or send back for refurbishing to keep it out of landfills. It’s a more eco-friendly alternative to printing!
Many of Zink’s potential customers are large-scale commercial businesses—they are helping the company focus on ways to employ the new technology for projects such as printing labels, tickets, posters, industrial packaging, product displays, and more. Zink’s tech and design teams are also researching wide-format printing and the possibility for laser printing, for faster speeds and higher quality results.
Don’t worry, Zink also caters to the ordinary consumer. This innovative technology is now offered in instant-print digital cameras and also stand-alone printers.
The instant-print camera link is not surprising when you consider the company and technology’s origins. It began life as a project being developed by Polaroid in the 1990s. Zink became fully independent in 2005, but still holds strong business ties to Polaroid, who has used the tech in a few of their products so far. Starting in 2007 with the Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile printer, the company eventually expanded to adding Zink capabilities to their signature instant-print cameras such as the Snap. Their latest Zink product, which we got to check out at this year’s CES, is the cool Polaroid Zip Instant Photoprinter. It can connect to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or NFC technology in less than a minute to print high-quality, 2×3-inch full-color photos on Zink’s water-resistant paper. The sticky back means you can use them as stickers, too!
Zink’s CES booth also featured another, newer option from HP, the Sprocket Photo Printer. Weighing only about six pounds and measuring a bit bigger than your smartphone itself, both of these printers are exceedingly portable. This model also allows you print pictures right from your phone or tablet with Bluetooth, but the app can connect instantly to your social media accounts for printing photos as well.
Zink doesn’t just partner with other companies to develop products. They also have their own hAppy Smart App Printers, which the company says is the first full-color, portable label printer that wirelessly prints from an app.