January 16, 2007
ZINK: The Portable Printer That Doesn't Use Ink
By Jason Sattler
Printer News: A Printer in Every Pocket?
Introducing ZINK, a printer that hopes to go where no printer has gone before: your pocket.
After generating copious buzz with its first demo in January, some are already calling ZINK the iPhone of printers. Like iPhone, ZINK offers mobility, a futuristic design, and an appeal to trend-setting early adopters. To give you an inside peak at a printer that dares to be cool, we spoke with ZINK Imaging's CMO Scott Wicker.
Wicker believes that ZINK presents a new paradigm for printers, which typically are tied to a desk or workstation, "We can't even imagine all the new uses for ZINK," Wicker said, from the company's headquarters in Boston.
Expected in stores in late 2007, ZINK uses its patented paper to print without ink (zero ink, get it?). Crystals inside the paper activate to form the image. Wicker says that his team is working with partners to make the proprietary paper as widely available as most toner and ink cartridges.
Pocket-sized, USB and Bluetooth-enabled, ZINK will initially release two models, a mobile printer and an integrated digital camera printer. (Wicker says there is no ZINK phone as of yet.) Both models print full-color 2" x 3" digital photos, the size of a business card. The Camera and Printer model gives users the digital version of the classic Polaroid Instant Camera.
It's easy to imagine ZINK becoming as common at 2007 holiday parties as an embarrassing relative, but Wicker remains cautious when predicting the target market for the product. "This is a totally new market for printing and is a very different application than home printing." Whether ZINK will have uses in commerce, education, or even law enforcement remains to be seen.
However ZINK's appeal to younger Internet users appears pretty obvious. It'll ship with sticker-backed paper and makes it easy to print out pictures from digital cameras on the fly. You can almost imagine the whole world beginning to look like a MySpace page, thanks to ZINK.
To add to the mystique around the product, ZINK Imaging has a blood relation to its predecessor at Polaroid. Development of ZINK began in the Polaroid research labs before the company went bankrupt in 2001. Hoping to capitalize on the growing market for paper prints of digital photos (consumers made about 66.5 billion copies of such prints last year, according research from IDC Corp.), Polaroid researchers envisioned a ink-less technology for kiosks at malls and other retail locations. That plan didn't pan out, but development continued.
When Minneapolis-based Petters purchased the assets of Polaroid in 2005, it spun ZINK off into its own company.
While portable printing has lagged behind the startling innovations in mobile communications, ZINK promises to take the process Gutenberg made possible and gives you the power of the press anywhere you go. "As ZINK enables printing in many new places," Wicker explains, "we do envision the day when owning your own printer is as common as owning your own cellphone."
Press ReleasePress Release
Product PageProduct Page
Recommended PaperZINK Paper
TonerNone! Zero ink
Specs that matter
|Release date:||Fourth Quarter 2007|
|Notable Features:||Ink-less printing|
|Pages per minute:||TBD|
|Paper Size:||2' x 3'|
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